Welcome to The Iron Maiden Blog Tour!
Please Welcome Resa Nelson, author of The Dragonslayer Series.
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.
Synopsis for The Dragonslayer’s Sword (Book 1)
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?
Synopsis for The Iron Maiden (Book 2)
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.
Now, enjoy the interview!
1. Did you always want to be a writer? And what inspired you to write?
Yes! I knew by the time I was 8 or 9 years old that I wanted to be a writer. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always made up stories to entertain myself, and I liked the idea of sharing those stories with other people.
2. How would you describe The Dragonslayer's Sword and The Iron Maiden ( The Dragonslayer Series #2 )?
The main character is Astrid, who we meet in childhood. She’s rejected by her family and given to a childseller because she’s covered from head to toe in scars, the result of having been chewed up and spit out by a dragon. She grows up to become a blacksmith, falls in love with a dragonslayer – and then the life she has created for herself begins to fall apart at the seams. The Dragonslayer’s Sword is all about Astrid and how she makes sense of what happens in her life. The Iron Maiden stretches beyond the world Astrid already knows. Astrid is challenged to help foreigners, but she has no use for them. She’s right in thinking that foreigners could come along and try to invade and take over her country, but she learns that most foreigners aren’t like that. It’s a big lesson for her.
3. Which character you had most fun writing?
In the Dragonslayer’s Sword, there are a couple of minor characters I introduce mostly for the sake of comic relief. They’re brigands who attack Astrid, and she fights back using the only weapons she has at hand, which happen to be her blacksmithing tools. She leaves one of the brigands with a lump on his forehead and the other with a broken nose. She never learns their real names, so she thinks of them as Lumpy and Broken Nose. These two men are lifelong friends who interact like an old married couple, always bickering and taking issue with each other. When I first wrote them, they made me laugh so much that I knew I had to get them off stage quickly – otherwise, they’d threaten to take over the whole book! They come back in a couple of other books in this series, and I’m always delighted to see them. They make me laugh out loud.
4. What was your main source of inspiration for this series?
Years ago I was propositioned by a co-worker (a married man with young children) and felt horrified because I had trusted him as a colleague. I thought we had a good work friendship, but he had something else in mind. I ended up writing a short story (called The Dragonslayer’s Sword) to exorcise my feelings about what had happened. The story was published in Science Fiction Age magazine, and the reader response was very strong. I came up with an idea that I loved for expanding the short story into a novel, and once I started writing the novel I realized the story was much bigger than I had first imagined – so it became a 4-book series. All this because some jerk thought he could manipulate me!
5. What should readers expect from The Dragonslayer's Sword and The Iron Maiden ( The Dragonslayer Series #2 )?
That’s a good question. The books are pretty dark and violent. I’m a pacifist, and so is my main character, Astrid. I believe Americans have become desensitized to violence, and whenever I write about violence my intent is express violence as a horrible thing. Because my books are dark, I also look for every opportunity to add humor to lighten things up. Astrid is a strong woman who takes action. She has her moments when she doubts herself or struggles, but she learns and grows throughout the series. Thematically, in Book 1 I’m saying that each of us has the power to decide who we are. With the help of others, Astrid learns she must decide who she is before she can stand up inside her own skin. This theme grows and expands with each book. At the same time, there’s a lot of action and adventure, as well as lots of twists and turns. My readers tell me my books are page-turners, and it’s common for people to read one of my books in a day or two. My readers also tell me they like to re-read my books.
6. How did you come up with the title of your book?
I kept the same title as the short story. But when I wrote the novel, the dragonslayer’s sword took on a richer and deeper meaning than in the short story. The first dragonslayer’s sword Astrid makes is an important character throughout the entire series.
7. What books have most influenced your life most?
Bang The Drum Slowly is a mainstream novel about baseball players and life and death. I first read the book when I was in high school, and have read it several times throughout my life. Every time I read it, I get something new out of it. That’s the kind of book I strive to write: a book whose meaning can grow and change over the course of time.
When I was younger, I was influenced by books by Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Jules Verne, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Edgar Allen Poe, and Agatha Christie.
8. What are your current projects?
I just finished writing the last book in my Dragonslayer series, and I’m in the thinking and planning phase for my next series. The Dragonslayer series is modeled on a medieval time period, and my new series is probably either going to take place in the modern day or it might be steampunk. I haven’t decided yet.
9. Do you see writing as a career?
I’ve always considered writing to be my career. Even before I sold my first short story, I considered myself a professional writer. In addition, in the past I’ve supported myself by working as a journalist and as a technical writer.
10. Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
My readers are extremely helpful. They do everything from giving me solid feedback on my work to helping me figure out problems. My experience with my readers shows up in my work. Sometimes I name characters after my readers. Sometimes I write scenes based on things my readers tell me they’d like to see in my work. It’s so great!
11. Where do you hope to take your writing in the future?
Like most writers, I have so many ideas for books that I’ll never be able to write them all. I hope to write as many books as I can. I love writing series but I also like writing standalone novels. I will probably write mostly fantasy novels, but I like to switch it up and write different kinds of novels – otherwise, I get bored. And, believe me, if I get bored, you’re going to get bored. When I write short stories, I write fantasy, science fiction, and horror, and I often blend mystery and historical with one or more of those genres. My goal is to go with the flow and just see where my writing takes me.
12. What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
I was thrilled. It’s so difficult to get published, and most writers experience a lot of rejection before breaking through. I think I was in a state of shock for several days when my first novel had been accepted. When I saw the cover for the first book, for the first five seconds I was disappointed. But then I had an epiphany: I understood the cover and I also understood why the cover doesn’t necessarily perfectly match the story between the covers. One thing I love about my publisher is that they invest a lot of time and effort in designing really great cover art, and I love every cover they’ve created for my books.
13. Are you working on any books/projects that you would like to share with us?
Now that I’ve finished writing the Dragonslayer series, I’m going to take a few months and write some new short stories. At the same time I’ll be thinking through the next series I want to write. I’ve always loved ghost stories (there are ghosts in my Dragonslayer series), so I think the new series will focus more on them. But I’m not sure. That could change at any moment.
14. What was one of the most surprising things you learned in writing your book?
When write The Dragonslayer’s Sword, I did a lot of research. In addition to library research, I learned how to use medieval weapons and I took a course in blacksmithing. Astrid is a blacksmith who makes weapons for dragonslayers, so I wanted to learn as much as I could about the kind of work she does. My course in blacksmithing lasted 10 weeks, and I loved it. After I completed the course, I discovered that I come from a long line of blacksmiths. In fact, there are currently three generations in my family who are blacksmithing today! And one of my ancestors had the middle name “Hammer”! It makes me wonder if there was some kind of genetic memory that made me want to write about a blacksmith.
15. Is there anything additional you would like to share with your readers?
Feedback is always helpful. Hearing how readers respond to my work always gives me something to think about.
16. What were your feelings when your first novel was accepted/when you first saw the cover of the finished product?
Several people at my publishing house are involved with cover design. As I said, it’s a real priority for them. I’m very fortunate in that they give authors the option to request artists. Ana Winson is the artist of the cover of The Dragonslayer’s Sword, and I’ve requested her ever since. She’s done the art for all of my covers, and I love her work. It’s exquisite!
17. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
To read my review of The Dragonslayer’s Sword (Book 1) click here: My Review
To read my review of The Iron Maiden (Book 2) click here: My Review
Typically, ending it and letting go of the characters.
Any last thoughts or words of wisdom you would like to share with the readers?
I’m always grateful to readers who are willing to take a leap of faith and try books by authors they haven’t read before. I’m very picky about what I read (mostly because reading means I have to give up writing time), so I appreciate the trust and sense of adventure it takes to try a new author.
And thanks to you, Tana, for taking a chance on me and my work! I really appreciate your reading my books and being a host for my blog tour – thank you so much!
Resa Nelson’s links:
Resa’s website: http://www.resanelson.com
Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories:
Trailer for The Iron Maiden: http://youtu.be/J5KwiPj2aRo
Ebooks ($4.99 each) are available directly from Mundania Press at: http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)
Paperbacks are available from Mundania Press, Amazon, and Barnes&Noble:
(get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)