I am beyond thrilled to have Melanie Dickerson with us today! Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer’s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of The National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor’s degree in special education from The University of Alabama and is a former teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama.
Melanie is giving away a copy of The Merchant's Daughter to one lucky Go Teen Writers' reader. Details for getting entered will be at the bottom of the post. Kinda like how supermarkets put milk all the way in the back...
Melanie, as a historical writer, what is it that draws you to the medieval time period?
I cannot resist asking this. When you write romantic scenes between your characters, is it ever in the back of your mind that these people have never brushed their teeth?
That's good to know! I'll read my next medieval book through a new (and cleaner!) lens. I loved The Merchant's Daughter. It was so fun, and I really love how the fairy tale aspect (Beauty and the Beast) is there ... but it doesn't take over the story. The story still feels original. I know you have a couple other fairytale-inspired stories in the works; what comes first for you - the original fairytale, or your storyline?
Hm, that’s a hard one, Stephanie! I start out with a fairy tale, usually, and then start thinking, What if? The story takes off from there and deviates quite a bit from the original fairy tale. I usually have to make myself come back, as I’m plotting, to the fairy tale to keep the story from deviating completely. And the characters and the story just evolve together. I don’t know how else to explain it. The characters and the story have to fit and complement each other. Ranulf was himself, and yet his character came out of the fact that he was “beastly.” I’m probably not explaining this very well! Honestly, it’s always hard for me to remember which aspects of a story I thought of first, and how it all came together and came into being. And by the time I’m halfway into writing my story, my characters and their story are so real to me, it’s more like I’m dictating their story as they tell it to me. I’m sure you know what I mean!
So ... what happens when you run out of Disney movies?Well, I’m thinking about branching out for my next book and using a lesser known fairy tale. I’m not stuck on Disney ones!
I know you received at least one angry review from someone who felt like the Christian message didn't appear in The Healer's Apprentice until the end, that you surprised readers with it. No one could ever say that about The Merchant's Daughter! The Christian message is so strong (yet organic) in this book ... was that just because of different story/different needs, or did the reader feedback impact you?
No, the reader feedback did not impact this story at all, because this story was already written before The Healer’s Apprentice was even published! I am not hiding the fact that my stories are published by a Christian publisher, and they are Christian because I’m a Christian. I set out to write the most entertaining and meaningful, thought-provoking stories I possibly can, and the Christian message is there because it’s there.
Well put! What is something you did that you feel made the difference in your journey from unpubbed to pubbed? Writers conference? A particular piece of writing advice? Sitting on the airport shuttle with me in Denver?
Hard work and prayer. And riding in the airport shuttle with you, Stephanie, of course!!! (I WAS happy to meet you!) God is good. And I worked hard. There was no one thing that I did that made it happen. I tried for three years to get The Healer’s Apprentice published, and in those three years I wrote two more books, the first being The Merchant’s Daughter. If I had to say one thing, I’d say it was because I didn’t give up, I tried to listen to God’s direction, and I chose to believe it was going to happen, some time, some way.
"God is good. And I worked hard." Amen to that! When did you start writing? And if you stumbled upon some kind of time transport system and could send your newbie-writer self an email with 3 tips, what would they be?
Isn't Melanie great? I just love her.
And you want to get yourself signed up to win The Merchant's Daughter because it's a wonderful read. To get entered to win, leave a comment either asking Melanie a question or answering what is your favorite part of the writing process? The first draft? (Shudder.) World building? Brainstorming?
(Due to the realities of international shipping fees, this giveaway is for US residents only, though all are welcome to converse with Melanie. This contest ends Monday, January 23rd.)