Melanie Dobson’s latest novel is the historical mystery Enchanted Isle (Waterfall Press). In the spring of 1958, Jenny Winter visits one of the most enchanting places on earth—and stumbles onto a mystery leading back a generation to an unforgettable romance and an unsolved murder that still casts a shadow over the lakes. In this interview, Melanie Dobson explains what compels her to write historical fiction, why she chose to set Enchanted Isle in an amusement park, and how her faith informs how she writes…
You have written a number of award-winning historical novels. What draws you to this genre?
I love to learn about history! I tend to lose track of time when I’m researching for a new novel so I have to set a personal deadline to stop my research and start writing. I enjoy reading historical fiction as well as writing it because I like being transported back in time via story and learning something new about the past.
Why did you choose to set the story of Enchanted Isle in the late 1950s?
This novel begins with a mystery—one of the owners of the amusement park called Enchanted Isle is killed before World War II and then his body disappears. Because of this mystery and the love story, I needed one of my characters to return to England about twenty years after the park closes. Also, I liked the nostalgia from the 1950s and writing a story about a young woman on a journey during this era to embrace the unique gifts that God has given her.
How did you come to choose the setting of an amusement park? Is your park inspired by a particular place?
When I was a child, my family often visited a magical amusement park in Ohio called Geauga Lake. Sadly, this park is abandoned now, but the memories of it, a gallery of pictures, are forever etched in my mind. When I started working on Enchanted Isle, I wanted to write a story about a park once filled with beauty and wonder as well, an amusement park that had seemingly lost its way. And I wanted to set this story in a mysterious place.
A friend introduced me to the labyrinth of lakes and rich history hidden in England’s Lake District. The mystical lakes and rugged fells, home of Beatrix Potter and William Wordsworth, have inspired the writers, artists, and tourists who’ve flocked there for more than a hundred years, and as I explored this district, my idea about an enchanted park began to grow. I decided to build Enchanted Isle on an island in these lakes and create rides inspired by local legends and the nearby Irish Sea.
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