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Interview with Melanie Dickerson

Melanie Dickerson loves a good fairy tale. She describes her books as "Young Adult, Inspirational, Medieval, fairy tale retelling romance." She's obviously good at what she writes. Her book The Healer's Apprentice was a Christy Award finalist, Carol Award finalist, and National Readers Choice Award winner for best first book. The Merchant's Daughter was a 2012 Christy Award finalist and a Carol Award winner.

You have quite a bit of experience overseas. How had this influenced your writing stories centered around fairy tales?
My trip to Germany influenced these fairy tale retellings a LOT. I fell completely in love with the Medieval architecture of the town of Hildesheim where I stayed one summer. The Medieval history of the town was so intriguing, and reminders of fairy tales seemed to be everywhere as we did some sightseeing in nearby towns. Many years later, when I got the idea to write a retelling of Sleeping Beauty, I did some research on Medieval Germany, and it seemed the perfect place to set a realistic retelling of the fairy tale. Instead of inventing fictional kingdoms, with kings and queens, princes and princesses, I could set my story in The Holy Roman Empire (a.k.a. Medieval Germany) and use dukes and duchesses, who would have been operating almost as kings and queens in their particular region. I enjoyed letting the historical authenticity lend a realistic flare to what had always been thought of as a fantasy.

You're about to publish your third book with Zondervan. What do you see as most significant to your publication journey?
Wow, there are so many things that were significant to my publication journey. I made so many friends and learned so much from the other authors in ACFW. Attending the ACFW Conferences also helped me to learn about the business. Praying and trusting God, choosing to believe that He was working everything out for my good in this complicated and difficult business, was also absolutely essential for me in getting published. Hard work and perseverance were also essentials, but trusting God and surrendering the entire thing to Him was my biggest turning point.

Balance is a problem for all writers. What’s your biggest challenge in balancing writing time with your other responsibilities?
It varies. Sometimes just feeling worn out is my biggest challenge, and sometimes it’s getting overwhelmed with marketing stuff. Other days, motivation is my biggest challenge. But my kids keep me grounded and remind me of my NEED for balance!

One quick look at your webpage reveals the depth of your commitment to the Lord. How do your faith and spiritual life play into the picture and affect your storytelling?
Oftentimes I find myself incorporating the biggest spiritual lessons I’ve learned in my own life into my stories. My characters are struggling, like me, to live for God and to overcome things from their pasts, as well as to overcome their flawed human nature, and there can be no positive change, no character arc, without God and His truth and His Word. I have been convicted by God’s Word so many times in my life, and it’s natural for me to have my characters become convicted by the same thing. I’m not sure I could write a story without a spiritual element, because God is just so present in my thoughts about life and about change.

Greatest moment of your writing/publishing career?
There have been a lot of amazing moments. I’m so grateful for every blessing God has given me! Getting my first contract was probably the most exciting. And being a finalist for the Christy Award for my first two books was really incredible. Winning the Carol Award this past year made me so very happy! But one of the best moments has to be getting my first 3-book adult contract from B&H last month. Such a blessing!

Who/What spurs you to write? Where do your story and character ideas come from?
That’s a good question. The obvious answer is that I’m inspired by fairy tales! I’m also inspired by other favorite stories, including Jane Eyre, Pride and Prejudice, and Ivanhoe. Human nature also inspires me. What causes people to do what they do and to think what they think? It’s fascinating.

What makes your style of storytelling unique?
My style is very much influenced by the time period and setting of my story. My Medieval fairy tales have a different style from the Regency romances I’m writing now. And as other authors have said before me, my style involves trying to leave out the boring parts of the story!

Would you consider your life to be a fairy tale?
Of course. I think everybody sees themselves as the hero/heroine of their own story. There are always villains, friends, obstacles, goals, motivations, and conflicts. Ultimately, we choose our own attitudes and make choices based on our beliefs, and that affects the happy—or not so happy—ending, as well as the journey.

Any parting words?
Always persevere. Set goals and pray your guts out! Make sure your heart is right, pursue God, and everything will turn out all right.

Thanks for sharing with us, Melanie!
Thank you so much, Vannetta! I’m excited about being ACFW’s featured author!!!

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