Melanie Dickerson loves retelling popular fairy tales with Christian messages—and, by all appearances, her readers love it too.
Her first book, The Healer’s Apprentice, a retelling of the story of Sleeping Beauty, which was released last year, was a Christy Award finalist in the Young Adult category and won the National Reader’s Choice Award for Best First Book. Last week, Zondervan released, Melanie’s second book, The Merchant’s Daughter, which is loosely based on Beauty and the Beast.
Melanie earned her bachelor’s degree in special education from the University of Alabama, and has taught children with special needs in Georgia and Tennessee. She also taught English to adults in Germany and the Ukraine.
She now lives with her husband and two daughters near Huntsville, Alabama.
You have a degree in Special Education. What sparked your writing journey?
I wanted to be a writer when I was in high school. I wrote two novels while still in high school, and my goal was to be a novelist. But, as a senior, I realized I needed to be practical and go to college to get a “real job.” I quit writing altogether, and even quit reading fiction for about fifteen years. I got back into writing when my second daughter was just a year old. I decided to see if I could really make it as a novelist.
How does your faith play into your writing?
When I start plotting, planning, and then writing a book, I don’t think about the faith element. It just happens. Just as God permeates every aspect of my life, so it is with my Christian characters. They can’t NOT apply God’s principles, or at least consider how their actions will impact their faith and their beliefs.
The Merchant’s Daughter is a Medieval romance. It’s also a fairy tale retelling based on Beauty and the Beast. Zondervan is publishing it as a Young Adult novel, but I think it appeals to anyone who likes historical romance.
It takes place in 14th century England, and my hero and heroine, Annabel and Lord le Wyse, have had some devastating, painful betrayals in their pasts. Their story will help readers to discover, along with Annabel and Lord le Wyse, how to overcome their fears, how to trust God, and how to learn to love and laugh and be joyful again.
I love the gradual way my two characters learn to trust each other, to trust God, and to fall in love. Isn’t that what the Beauty and the Beast story is all about?
Detours in life can be frustrating—kind of like plot twists in the stories we write—but the outcome is often more intriguing than our original plan. Can you tell us about a recent “detour” in your life—or in one of your character’s lives—that taught you something?
Just as Annabel and Lord le Wyse were learning to trust God, I have had to do the same. Throughout my writing journey toward publication, the theme of my life seemed to be trust. God kept making me do things that were way out of my comfort zone, and I had to just force myself to say, literally, over and over, “God, I trust you, I trust you, I trust you.” As someone who has always struggled with low self-esteem, I’ve had to do public speaking, promote myself to strangers, and hardest of all, I had to do a live interview on TV. God has brought me a long way, I have grown a lot. I still have a ways to go, but I trust Him way beyond what I used to before I started writing.
What’s next for you?
I have a Snow White story and a Cinderella story that are both sequels to The Healer’s Apprentice and I’m hoping Zondervan will publish them in about a year. Right now I’m working on a Regency for an adult Christian audience.
A few fun questions…
When the words aren’t flowing—or when you want to celebrate if they are—what is your favorite comfort food and why?
Chocolate is my favorite food because it tastes so good. I love chocolate dipped vanilla ice cream cones. And pretty much every other food known to man. Except for bananas and other slimy fruits. Fruit is my least favorite food group.
This website features musicians as well as writers. Do you have musical, as well as literary, talent?
My grandfather was a great fiddle player, and I played the flute in high school band, but I haven’t played in about twenty years. So no, not really.
If you were a song, what kind of song would you be?
I like for people to think I’m happy and upbeat, but I’m really a fairly melancholy person, although I try to fight it. So, I don’t know. Maybe an Andrea Bocelli love song, kind of sad but intense and romantic.
Are you a major or a minor chord?
In the story that is your life, are you the strong, female lead; the girl next door; the mysterious woman behind dark glasses; the super heroine; or the little girl trying to walk in high heels?
I am the weak, scared little girl trying to look and act like the strong female lead.
I’m a dog lover. Please tell us about your pets, if any, or your favorite pet as a child.
We have a crazy dog named Ginger who is beautiful. She’s big and has long white hair that sheds like manna from heaven. But she loves to run away and just laughs when we try to catch her. Fortunately, she is very friendly and thinks everybody she sees wants to rub her belly, so our neighbors usually catch her for us. She is also a Houdini who can escape any fence. I can’t tell you how many things we have done to try to keep her from escaping.
Thank you, Melanie! It’s nice to have you at DivineDetour!
Thanks so much for having me, Kathy!
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