Today I’m so excited to interview Mrs. Melanie Dickerson.
Melanie is the author of several books which are published by Zondervan, including: The Fairest Beauty (A Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs Retelling), The Merchant’s Daughter (2012 Christy Award Finalist and Carol Award Winner!), and The Healer’s Apprentice.
We met at the University Christian Ministry when we were both students at the University of Alabama.
Stephanie: Welcome to http://www.thewritesteph.com, Melanie! What did you do to while away your days as a child?
Melanie: Stephanie, as you know, I grew up in a really rural area of south Alabama near Monroeville, where Harper Lee grew up. There wasn’t a whole lot to do there. I went on lots of long treks in long-abandoned fields with my dog. I built forts and treehouses with my older brother and rode my bike a lot. We also had motorcycles—my brothers, Dad, and I—and we rode on dirt roads and trails with my dad on the weekends. I was pretty much a tomboy who craved adventure. But I also read a lot of books, as you might imagine. I loved novels. As I got older, I started writing short stories and poetry and then longer works. I had written two novels by the time I graduated high school.
Stephanie: Did you want to be a writer back then? You were a Hearing Impaired major at the university and put your writing on hold for a while. Had you ever thought about going into a writing-related field? If so, what made you opt to go in a different direction?
Melanie: Yes, I wanted to be a writer in high school. However, I decided to get a degree that would help me get a job, and when I left home to go to the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa (where you and I became friends!) I put my writing on hold. At that point, my goal was to get a job and be able to support myself! I also had dreams of becoming a missionary, and that dream was fulfilled when I went to Ukraine for a year.
Stephanie: It sounds like your trips abroad really piqued your writing ideas. How so?
Melanie: I spent six weeks in Germany, in the town of Hildesheim, and that town is the inspiration for my setting, the fictional town of Hagenheim. Hildesheim has a wonderful Medieval town square, or Marktplatz, that dates back to the 1100’s. I was in love with the Medieval churches, houses, and guild halls, as well as the town wall and gate tower.
Stephanie: Do you see yourself in your characters?
Melanie: I think all writers draw on their own experiences to create their characters. We may not have been through the exact same experiences as our characters, but we can draw on emotions and similar experiences to create believable emotions in our characters, as well as familiar characteristics. I definitely put something of myself in my characters, especially my heroines.
Stephanie: Who is your favorite character? Or which book is your favorite?
Melanie: That’s hard to say. I love all my main characters, and I get very attached to them and to each story. The Healer’s Apprentice will always have a special place in my heart, as it was my first published book, and I also worked on it the longest—altogether about 4 years.
Stephanie: I’m looking forward to your new book, The Captive Maiden, which comes out on November 19th and can be pre-ordered online. The cover is stunning!
Melanie: Thanks, Stephanie! I’m excited about it!
Stephanie: Who designed the cover, and how much input did you have in picking out the model for Gisela? Or, how are the cover models selected? How do they come up with the artwork? How much influence do you have? How do you feel when you see the artwork all put together?
Melanie: Mike Heath of Magnus Creative has done all the covers, and the video trailers, for my books, after meeting with Zondervan’s creative team of editors and graphic artists and marketing experts. First, my editor usually asks me for input, any ideas I might have for the cover. Next, I will get an email with a picture of the costume or costumes for the models to wear, asking if I approve. I believe Mike handles hiring the model and doing the photo shoot. Next comes a photo of the tentative cover. So far they have all been stunning and wonderfully accurate to my characters and story. I’ve always been ecstatic at first sight.
Stephanie: Well, thanks so much for being with us, today, Melanie!
You all can get a glimpse and pre-order Melanie’s book at. http://www.melaniedickerson.com/books.html.