Melanie, welcome to Austenitis! I am so excited to be talking with you today about your newest book, The Fairest Beauty. Before we get into that, would you like to tell us a bit about yourself?
About myself? Besides being a Jane Austen fanatic, I live in north Alabama. I’ve been a special education teacher and a missionary in Ukraine, and now I lead an ordinary life as a stay at home mom who happens to make up and write stories. I have two amazing daughters and one amazing husband. And it has rained so much in the last few weeks here in north Alabama, I’m thinking about taking up ship building.
Yay, another Austen fan! Those movie adaptions are the best. :) Good luck with your ship building! Please tell us a little bit about the plot of The Fairest Beauty.
It is a Snow White retelling, set in Medieval Europe, and it is about a girl who longs to escape her life as a scullery maid to the cruel Duchess Ermengard. When a young man, Gabe, appears, telling her she’s the daughter of the long-dead Duke Baldewin and that she’s betrothed to his brother, she isn’t at all sure she should trust him. NOT trusting people has kept her alive and sane and she’s not too sure she should change her policy now. But she ends up having little choice in the matter when the duchess tries to have her killed. She and Gabe flee for their lives, heading toward the safe haven of the Cottage of the Seven, a mysterious place where they’ve been told they’ll find refuge.
Yes, readers, it's just as good as it sounds! Melanie, what was your favorite part of The Fairest Beauty to write?
My favorite part? Well, I like writing the exciting turning points and action scenes. I also like writing any kind of pivotal turning points in the characters’ mindsets, when they come to terms with a problem or realize they’ve been wrong, those kinds of things. I try to leave out all the boring parts. :)
You succeeded in that! Not a slow minute in the book. What gave you the idea, or inspired you to write The Fairest Beauty?
I got the idea from the Snow White fairy tale, particularly the Disney version of the tale. I thought it would be fun to take the story of Snow White and make her realistic, and give her a hero who desperately wants to save her. But she’s very tough, and she intends to save herself.
Is there any special story about the beautiful cover?
This cover is gorgeous, isn’t it? Zondervan hired the same freelance guy to do this cover, Mike Heath, who had done my previous covers. He also creates my trailers, which can be found on my website, www.MelanieDickerson.com. I really had nothing to do with the cover. My editor asked me what I thought would look good on the cover, and I said I thought it would be cool to have a bright red apple in the background somewhere, to show that it’s a Snow White story---since the evil “queen” tries to kill Snow White with a poison apple, and I did include that element in my story.
I really enjoyed the way you portrayed the seven who are commonly known in the classic fairy tale as the Seven Dwarfs. How did you come up with the ideas for their different (and entertaining) personalities?
I really have a lot of affection for my Seven men. :) I drew on my background as a special education teacher, and I used the original Seven Dwarfs’ unique characteristics. The leader is indeed a dwarf, or it’s more polite to say, “little person.” But none of the other men are small, they just all have different things that might make other Medieval people afraid of them because they don’t understand them.
For instance, my “Sleepy” character has narcolepsy and falls asleep easily; my “Happy” character is severely mentally impaired and is loveably emotional; my “Grumpy” character has had a brain injury that has affected his personality, and so on.
I love that you did that! I know you’re already preparing another book for publication this fall. Can you tell us a little about it?
My next book is already finished, it just has to be edited, and they are almost finished with the cover, which is very beautiful, BTW! It is called The Captive Maiden and is about Valten, Gabe’s older brother. At the end of The Fairest Beauty, Valten isn’t very happy, so I wanted to make sure he got to have his own heroic story. He saves the “Cinderella” character, whose name is Gisela, not only from her mean stepmother, but also from his own rival, who keeps trying to defeat Valten in jousting tournaments but keeps losing.
Can't wait to read it, and see the cover! :) What is your favorite time period to read about? How about to write about?
I love reading about Medieval times and Regency England, and those are the two time periods I love to write about as well.
If you could be any literary character, who would you be? Why?
Hm, I guess I would be Elizabeth Bennet from Pride and Prejudice, because she gets Mr. Darcy, and Darcy is my favorite hero. :)
Good answer! :) Is there a random fact about you that most people don’t know?
My favorite flower is the tulip.
What is one thing you dread doing?
I dread dieting, so I rarely do it. I also dread exercising, but I force myself.
Haha, I think you aren't the only one to hate either of those things... ;) What’s a book you recently enjoyed reading?
Lately I’ve mostly been reading about the Regency (I will have a book set in Regency England coming
out before long … stay tuned!) but the last novel I read and really enjoyed was Moonlight Masquerade, a Regency romance by Ruth Axtell. I got to read an advance copy. It comes out March 1st, and I highly recommend it!
I'll keep an eye out for it! Which of your book covers is your favorite?
That is a hard question. I think The Fairest Beauty, because of the color and intrigue.
The colors on this cover are lovely. Thanks so much for coming today, Melanie! The Fairest Beauty is a great book, and I’m already anticipating reading your other books. Where can readers find you on the web?
I love to hear from readers, and you can write to me on my website, http://melaniedickerson.com where you can also watch my book trailers, or through my facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/MelanieDickersonBooks. So please come by and “Like” my author page and say hi! I’m on facebook a lot (probably more than I should be!)
Thanks again, Melanie! Readers, we're back to just me.
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