Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Resa Nelson Interview

Wolf Majick Reviews was happy to sit down with Resa Nelson and ask her a few questions about her Dragon Slayer Series.

Delia: First off could you explain to our readers a little about the “world” you have created?
Resa: Sure!  I think of the world in my Dragonslayer books as a world that’s parallel to ours.  I’ve loved the Viking culture all my life, so I decided to model my world on the beginning of the Viking era.  Vikings valued the law above all else, and their laws were very specific.  In my opinion, Viking women had better rights than American women today because they had the right to get divorced quickly and easily and automatically received custody of their children as well as a good portion of the family wealth.  They didn’t have to go to court.  They didn’t have to fight.  It was their right by law.  This tells me that Viking women were valued by their culture.  Because I write about women who are strong and smart and courageous, I wanted part of my world to include a country that values women and for the rest of the world to be in conflict with that.  It’s also a world where ghosts, dragons, and shapeshifters are real.  But shapeshifting revolves around how you feel and think about others – your thoughts have the power to change how you look and how others look.  So there’s an unwritten law that says you always have the right to change yourself, but you don’t have the right to change others.  So you have to hold your thoughts and feelings close to keep from changing the way other people choose to look.

Delia: What are the books in your series?
Resa: Book 1 is The Dragonslayer’s Sword, where we meet and get to know the main character, Astrid.  Book 2, The Iron Maiden, takes Astrid into new territory, where she learns the rest of the world isn’t as kind to women as her homeland.  Book 3, The Stone of Darkness, takes Astrid deeper into the world, and she comes face-to-face with a dangerous tyrant.  I just finished writing Book 4 a couple of months ago, and my publisher has scheduled it for publication this November.  Book 4 is the final book in the series, and I can’t wait for people to read it!

Delia: Is there anything you hope readers will take away from your series?
Resa: Yes, so many things!  My greatest hope is that girls and women will think about their own worth and to understand or remember that they have a place in the world.  I write a lot about people from other countries.  At first, Astrid wants nothing to do with foreigners because she’s afraid they’ll invade her homeland and destroy it, but she learns to see people from other countries as friends, even when they don’t share a language.  I believe that no matter what country or culture or customs anyone comes from, people all over the world are basically the same – we all want to have a good life and be happy.  I believe we can accomplish more by working together than by working apart.  All of these things are at the heart of the Dragonslayer series.

Delia: How long have you been working on this series?
Resa: A really long time!  It started out as a short story (“The Dragonslayer’s Sword”), which was published in the November 1992 issue of Science Fiction Age magazine.  I never meant for it to be more than one short story.  But a couple of years later, the magazine ran a Readers Top Ten poll, and my story ranked 2nd.  My editor also forwarded a letter he’d received from a B. Dalton bookstore manager who said people kept coming into his store wanting to buy my dragonslayer novel.  He wanted to know how to order it, but I hadn’t written a novel yet – just the short story!  So that told me that all my readers are smarter than I am.  They were seeing something in the story that I wasn’t.  So I spent 8 years trying to figure out what that was.  Once I did, I decided that I’d only write a novel based on my Dragonslayer story if I could come up with an idea that I loved with my whole heart.  Once I started writing Book 1, I realized I had a series.  So from the publication of the first Dragonslayer short story to the publication of the final book in the series, it’s been about 20 years!

Delia: Do you have a favorite character to right?
Resa: Because my novels tend to be dark, I throw in as much humor as often as possible to lighten things up.  There are two characters (Astrid thinks of them as Lumpy and Broken Nose) who are brigands.  They show up in every book except Book 2, I think.  They’re men who act like an old married couple, always bickering and finding fault with each other.  They always make me laugh out loud.

Delia: What about the hardest character?
Resa: That’s probably my main character Astrid, because she learns so much.  Throughout the series I was constantly thinking about her frame of mind and what she’s learning and how she’s processing everything that happens to her.  It always felt like a balancing act.

Delia: Do you believe in magic?
Resa: I believe there’s a lot we don’t know about energy, and I think there’s a lot that happens in the world that we currently call “magic” that probably has to do with energy.  I think someday people will delve deeper into the science of energy, which will explain a lot of what we don’t understand today.  So I absolutely believe in magic (I think of it as the science of energy), and I believe in the future people will laugh at us for not understanding it in the same way that people today laugh at the old belief that the world was flat and you could sail off the edge of it.

Delia: Have you spent any time working as a blacksmith or done any sword crafting?
Resa: I haven’t worked with swords, but when I was doing research for my first Dragonslayer novel I took a course in blacksmithing.  I thought, How can I write about a woman who’s a blacksmith unless I try it myself?  I learned so much!  All of my classmates were big, burly men, and I had to figure out how to keep up with them.  That had a huge influence on Astrid.  The funny thing is that after I took the course I discovered I come from a long line of blacksmiths and that there are three generations in my extended family who are blacksmithing today!  It makes me wonder if something like genetic memory made me want to write about a blacksmith.

Delia: Where can readers find more information about you and your books?
Resa: At my website:  http://www.resanelson.com

Delia: Do you have any suggestion for aspiring writers?
Resa: What I’ve noticed is that writers who get published tend to have two things in common:  (1) They constantly work at the craft of writing, and (2) they refuse to give up, no matter what.  I’ve seen many extremely talented writers give up too soon and too easily.

Thanks so much Resa for stopping by! Be sure to check out my reviews of her books and her bio info below.

Resa Nelson Bio
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 and 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 her 4-book Dragonslayer series. Book 2, The Iron Maiden, was published last December, Book 3 was published in May, and the final book in the series is scheduled for publication in November.

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."
Resa lives in Massachusetts.

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