Rural South Alabama Author, Melanie Dickerson, Visits!

Melanie Dickerson, Author

Melanie Dickerson, Author

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, 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.

Melanie's latest novel, The Captive Maiden.

Melanie’s latest novel, The Captive Maiden.

Melanie and Stephanie in College.

Melanie and Stephanie in College.

Toad the Wet Sprocket

Sprocket meets the write Steph.

Sprocket meets the write Steph.

I had just finished college in the early 90’s, and I did not know what to do with myself. I had been a Family Studies major, and I was too class-weary to go on to graduate school at the time.

Not to mention that I was broke.

So I moved back home to Jachin, in rural south Alabama.

Moving back home, to a rural community, after being so social at college was extremely hard. Extremely. If I wanted to go hang out with friends, I had to drive 2 hours back to Tuscaloosa or travel hours to see my buddies.

One of my good friends, Melanie, was living in Chattanooga and teaching school. She started listening to this cool, local alternative radio station. Boys and girls, before it was “grunge,” it was called “alternative music,” and Melanie got me into it by sending me tapes that she made for me.

[By the way, my friend is Melanie Dickerson, author of several books by Zondervan. Her new book, The Captive Maiden, comes out on October 22nd. I’m very proud of her! She comes from a small, rural town in south Alabama, too.]

One of the bands that Melanie recorded for me was “Toad the Wet Sprocket.”

So when Princess Buttercup suggested “Sprocket” as a name for our rescued pup, Lefty and I both liked it. “It’s like that band, you know, ‘Love & Sprockets,’” I told them.

Lefty meets Sprocket.

Lefty meets Sprocket.

Lefty said that he’d never heard of it before. And Lefty knows a lot of bands. I looked it up online.


Toad the Wet Sprockets.

So that’s what we named this adorable waif of a pup.

Scared little pup hides his head on the way home to Alabama.

Scared little pup hides his head on the way home to Alabama.

Poor little guy. He was found abandoned somewhere in Tennessee or Kentucky and a lady called the shelter about him. He needed a loving, patient home. Snuggles needed a dog companion after losing her bestie, Samson.
Sprocket is very scared of people. But even after 2 days, he is much better because of Snuggles and TLC from our family.
Snuggles and Sprocket like to play.

Snuggles and Sprocket like to play.

We will always love and miss Samson. He will never be forgotten.
But now we can share the loving home that we have—with a little puppy who needs us. (More on Friday.)

Just wook at me now, ev'wybody!

Just wook at me now, ev’wybody!