I'm excited to be hosting The Iron Maiden Blog Tour today! Author Resa Nelson is stopping by for an interview. Resa is the author of the Dragonslayer Series, which includes the following books:
For Astrid, a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, the emergence of a strange gemstone from her body sets in motion a chain of events that threaten to destroy her life. Her happiness is shattered when her lover--the dragonslayer--disappears without a trace, and the life that she knows and loves implodes without warning.Astrid lives in a world of shapeshifters whose thoughts have the power to change not only themselves but others. Everything Astrid knows to be true is called into question when she learns the truth about her past and the mysterious family from which she was separated as a child.Reality turns inside out as Astrid gradually learns the truth about the people she loves as well as those she disdains. With the fate of dragons, ghosts, and slaves in foreign lands resting on her shoulders, Astrid faces the challenge of deciding who she is and how she will stand up inside her own skin. Will she withdraw and hide from the world that has disappointed her so much...or will she rise to lead others to freedom and peace?
Astrid is reluctant to travel the winter route beyond the Northlands, even though it's her duty. She'd rather stay home in her village, surrounded by friends and neighbors. Ignoring the bonds of tradition, she decides to spend the cold winter months in the warmth of her blacksmithing shop. Why should she leave the comfort of her cottage to serve and protect foreigners who might raid and harm her native Northlands?Everything changes when a traveling merchant steals Starlight, the first dragonslayer's sword Astrid forged and her last link to her sweetheart DiStephan. Having no time to alert her friends, Astrid races in pursuit of the merchant, determined to reclaim Starlight as her own and return home in time for dinner. Instead, her quest leads her to new lands, unexpected friendships with foreigners, and a harrowing encounter with the damage done by the followers of a new god that considers women as nothing more than servants to men. All the while, she must be ready to face any dragon traveling the winter route.In Book 2 of the Dragonslayer series, Astrid must learn that deciding who she is isn't a decision she can make just once. It's a decision she must make every day.
Q. What three words best describe The Dragonslayer Series?
Adventurous. Dark. Hopeful.
Q. The Dragonslayer Series is considered fantasy…why did you choose to write in this particular genre? What do you love most about writing fantasy fiction and/or what is the most challenging part about writing in this genre? Why do think this genre appeals to so many different readers?
I’ve been writing short stories since I was 8 or 9 years old, and I usually write science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories that are sometimes blended with mystery or historical. So far, all of my novels are in the fantasy genre. When I write fantasy, I feel like anything is possible. I’m a big fan of symbolism, and for me fantasy provides the greatest possibilities for symbolism. For example, my main character Astrid is covered from head to toe with scars because in her childhood she was chewed up and spit out by a dragon. To me, this symbolizes what every human being goes through in life: we’re each chewed up and spit out by our own life experiences. We each have a choice: do we let negative experiences beat us down or do we learn and grow from those experiences and rise above them, even if we have nightmarish experiences that seem impossible to survive? The challenge for me is that I want my fantasy novels to feel as real as possible. So I take a lot of time to think through the logic of everything that happens. I also strive to include details that will ground the story in reality. I think fantasy appeals to people for a lot of different reasons. I think most of us read as an escape from everyday life, and fantasy provides an amazing escape. Also, studies have shown that during challenging times (wartime, economic recessions, etc.), sales of fantasy books go up. Again, I think it’s because fantasy is a wonderful way to escape the stress of everyday life.
Q. How has your main character, Astrid, changed or evolved from The Dragonslayer’s Sword to the second book in this series,The Iron Maiden? Is her character turning out to be exactly how you envisioned her to be when you began writing this series?
I’m very surprised by how Astrid is evolving through the entire series. By the end of The Dragonslayer’s Sword, she learns that she must decide who she is before she can stand up inside her own skin and find her place in the world. This idea threads through the entire series, and in The Iron Maiden, Astrid must learn that deciding who she is isn’t something she can do just once and be done with it – she learns that it’s something that happens with every decision she makes, every day of her life. At the beginning of The Iron Maiden, Astrid doesn’t want to do anything to help people from other countries, and she has good reasons to feel this way. She’s had some bad experiences with foreigners in the past, and she has no reason to trust them. But throughout the book she develops a deep friendship with foreigners, including one who doesn’t speak Astrid’s language. Astrid doesn’t speak any other languages, so they’re never able to communicate by speaking to each other. They have to find other ways to communicate, and Astrid becomes very close to this character, despite the language barrier. This causes her to change the way she feels about foreigners. Astrid surprises me all the time. Sometimes she’s much more courageous than I expect her to be and sometimes something happens that causes her to stumble and fall – and then she has to figure out how to get back on her feet again.
Q. Can tell us a little bit about what’s to come in the next books in The Dragonslayer Series?
Sure! In Book 1, one character briefly mentions a rumor, and that rumor turns out to be the catalyst for the entire series. In Book 2 we learn what that rumor is about and get a glimpse of who’s behind it. In Book 3 we find out the rumor has far greater implications than any of the characters could have imagined. And Book 4 we see people from different nations joining forces against a danger that threatens them all. Also, I drop a lot of hints about dragons throughout the series, but it’s not until Book 4 that I answer all of the questions about them.
Q. What or who do you think has been the biggest inspiration behind your novels? Behind your writing as a whole?
Like a lot of writers, I write to solve problems and to try to figure out how I can become a better person. The entire Dragonslayer series started because I was propositioned by a married man (with young children). I was horrified because I thought he was my friend and colleague but I quickly realized he’d only been pretending in an effort to manipulate me. That’s what cause me to writeThe Dragonslayer’s Sword, which began as a short story and that I later expanded into a novel. I also write about large issues that trouble me. For example, like my main character Astrid, I’m a pacifist. Ironically, there’s a lot of violence in the Dragonslayer series, but that’s because I’m against violence. I’m deeply concerned that in the United States violence is often glamorized, especially in the media. My intent is to make it horrific and distasteful, because that’s how I feel about violence. I think it’s important to remember that violence isn’t a good thing, and that can be difficult within the culture of the United States.
Q. Who is your favorite literary villain…who do you just love to hate or hate to love?
I might be cheating, but I’ve always loved Professor Snape in the Harry Potter series. Because I’m a writer, I pay close attention when I’m reading. It was obvious to me from the beginning that if Snape truly wanted to hurt Harry that he’d already had many opportunities to do so but often protected Harry instead. I didn’t know exactly what was going on with Snape, but I found him fascinating, and I knew there was a lot of good in him, no matter how mean he might appear to be. And I’m so impressed with the history J.K. Rowling gave to Snape. She shows us how broken he is and why he ended up that way. I just adore him.
Q. If you could magically transport yourself to any made-up world from any book/movie/tv show, which would it be? What would you do there?
I’d like to live in the Firefly universe – and this is a difficult decision because I’m a huge fan of Joss Whedon and am very tempted to live in the Buffy universe. But I think I’d choose Firefly because I like the idea of traveling to other planets. I’d like to be like Zoey, Capt. Mal’s right-hand woman. I like the idea of fighting against corrupt systems. In real life, I marched with the Occupy movement, and it was one of the most satisfying and inspiring experiences I’ve ever had.
Q. If you could magically bring any character from any book/movie/tv show into your world, who would it be? Where would you take them?
Right now I’m really impressed with The Walking Dead on TV, and I’m head over heels in love with Daryl. Someone who risks his life every day to find someone else’s missing little girl and refuses to give up – that’s my kind of man. I’d take him on a walk to show him there are no zombies in our world. And then take him to a restaurant, because I’m sure he’d be ready for a good steak after living on squirrels for so long.
Q. What’s the one book you wish you wrote? Why?
The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo because I am so thrilled with the title character. There is a scene in that book that makes me happier than anything I’ve ever read. I would have written the novel differently (it would have been a much shorter book), and I would really have to be a Swedish native (which I’m not) to do it justice, but I think the characterization is just brilliant.
Q. What’s the one book you think everybody should read at least once? Why?That’s a really good but difficult question to answer! OK, we’re talking about people all over the world, so what can translate across cultural boundaries? And let’s suppose we’re talking about children, teens, and adults. I don’t know if this would work, but I’m going to choose Winnie-the-Pooh. It’s the first favorite book I ever had, and I think it’s charming and hilarious.
Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Resa and allowing us all a chance to get to know you and your work a little better!
Find the author: Website / Goodreads / Twitter / Facebook
Resa Nelson has been selling fiction professionally since 1988. She is a longtime member of SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and is a graduate of the Clarion SF Workshop. Resa was also the TV/Movie Columnist for Realms of Fantasy magazine for 13 years and was a contributor to SCI FI magazine. She has sold over 200 articles to magazines in the United States and the United Kingdom.Her first novel, The Dragonslayer's Sword, was nominated for the Nebula Award, the highest honor in science fiction and fantasy. It was also a Finalist for the EPPIE Award. This medieval fantasy novel is based on a short story first published in the premiere issue of Science Fiction Age magazine and ranked 2nd in that magazine's first Readers Top Ten Poll. The Dragonslayer's Sword is Book 1 in a 4-book series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was recently published. Book 3 is scheduled for publication in Summer 2012.Resa's standalone novel, Our Lady of the Absolute, is a fantasy/mystery/thriller about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. Midwest Book Review gave this book a 5-star review, calling it "a riveting fantasy, very highly recommended."In real life, Resa is a fan of chocolate, travel, summer, museums, ballet, movies, and Broadway musicals (her favorites are Les Miserables and Wicked). She lives in Massachusetts.
Message from Resa Nelson
During this blog tour I’m telling lots of stories about the research I’ve done for my Dragonslayer series. You can find out where I’ve been and where I’m going next by checking my website (http://www.resanelson.com), my Facebook page (Resa Nelson & The Dragonslayer’s Sword), or following me on Twitter (ResaNelson). If you’d like to sample my work for free, you can download a free “mini” ebook called “Dragonslayer Stories” from my website at http://www.resanelson.com/
files. No cost, no obligation, nothing to sign up for, no information gathering. I like giving away samples of my work so you can decide for yourself whether you like it or not. If you do, you can enter to win a copy of the first two books in my series, which I’ll give away at the end of this tour on Feb. 14. To enter, just send email to ResaBonusGifts@aol.com. (I won’t keep your email address – this just makes it easier for me to keep track of entries.) I’m also doing a book giveaway on GoodReads, so you can enter to win there, too.
Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories: http://www.resanelson.com/
GoodReads giveaway: http://www.goodreads.com/Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at: http://mundania.com/author.
Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble: