Q&A: Melanie Dickerson
Tell us about yourself, Melanie.
I am a wife and mother of two school-age daughters and I live near Huntsville, Alabama. My life is pretty boring, which I’m thankful for, since writing seems to provide all the drama I can safely handle! I am a graduate of The University of Alabama with a degree in special education, and I spent a year in Ukraine and a summer in Germany.
Tell us about The Healer's Apprentice.
My debut novel, The Healer’s Apprentice, is published by Zondervan as a Young Adult romance and was released this month. It’s a historical, set in medieval 14th century Germany, with a wonderful castle and medieval town as the main setting. It’s full of intrigue and plot twists, deception and loyalty, but most of all, romance!
How did you come up with the idea for The Healer’s Apprentice?
I came up with the idea for The Healer’s Apprentice while watching Disney and Barbie princess movies with my little girls. I had loved fairy tales all my life, and one day when we were watching Sleeping Beauty, I started thinking, What if this story was rewritten to be more realistic? What if the hero felt duty- and honor-bound to his betrothed? What if he fell in love with a peasant girl but was horrified at the idea of betraying his betrothed in that way? After all, men want respect more than anything else, and he would lose the respect of everyone if he shirked his duty to marry his betrothed. So that was the beginning of my idea for this story. The original title was The Woodcutter’s Daughter.
Please share how you plot and what your daily writing goals are.
It varies greatly! I don’t have a set way to plot. I usually let the plot come to me gradually. Sometimes I use the Writing the Breakout Novel Workbook or another method, article, or checklist to help me with plotting. Mostly I just lie awake at night and think about all the possibilities. And my daily writing goals vary according to whether my editor needs me to do revisions. Normally, my goal is simply to get as much done as possible between the time my kids leave for school and the time they get home!
Can you give us a sneak peek at what you have cooking up next?
Well, I have a second medieval YA romance, a Beauty and the Beast story tentatively titled The Beholder. I also have an adult series, set in 1800’s Alabama, that my agent is working on finding a publisher for.
Do you have advice for the beginning writer?
Keep writing and don't give up! It takes most people a long time to get published, so be persistent. Secondly, be teachable. Learn all you can about the craft of writing by reading books on writing, articles, and blogs. Thirdly, write as much as you can. Write short stories, poetry, novels, whatever you enjoy writing, and just keep writing. The more you write the better you'll become. Besides, it will give you opportunities to apply all you're learning from the books, articles, and blog on writing. Lastly, after you start submitting your work to publishers and agents, look at rejections as just another necessary step to getting published. Whatever you do, don't let a rejection devastate you. It's okay to be disappointed but you have to keep writing and submitting. A rejection is your "red badge of courage" so be proud of those rejections!