Monday, September 17, 2012

{Blog Tour} Guest Post: Resa Nelson, Author of the Dragonslayer Series

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Read Between The Lines by Resa Nelson

My mission as a novelist is for every novel I write to focus on a female hero who is smart, strong, and courageous. My goal is to write novels that are loaded with twists and turns because I never want my readers to get bored – instead, I want to keep them on the edges of their seats! It’s perfectly fine with me if people read my novels just for fun. But I also try to make my books meaty for readers who want more.

For example, my Dragonslayer series came about because a co-worker propositioned me – and he was a married man with two young children! I wanted to write a short story to help me deal with my feelings of anger and hurt and feeling duped and betrayed by someone I had once admired and trusted. I thought about the different ways I could write about what had happened to me, and the idea I liked best was to write a story set in a medieval fantasy world of dragons. What if my main character is a female blacksmith? I thought. What if she’s responsible for making swords and other weapons for dragonslayers? Wouldn’t that mean that if her village had to hire a new dragonslayer and he propositioned her that she would feel pressured to do what he wanted? Wouldn’t she feel that if she didn’t do what he wanted that she’d put everyone in her village at risk? But doesn’t she also have the right to protect herself and make her own decisions?

Those are the questions I wanted to address in writing the short story, and when it was published the readers’ response was so strong that I decided to expand the story into a novel and then into a 4-book series. Ultimately, what I wanted to say in the short story was that because you are the only person who has ever lived inside your own skin, you are the only person qualified to make your own decisions – and no one has the right to pressure you into doing something you don’t want to do. When I expanded the story into a series of novels, I changed my message a little bit. The point of the novels is every person has the power to decide who they are in life – and once you become an adult, no one has the right to tell you who or what you should be or do as long as you’re not hurting other people.

I try to be clear by making clear statements about the power to decided who you are in each novel in the series. But I believe there’s one thing readers can do to see beyond the fantasy genre and into the heart of any novel. And that thing was one of the most difficult and painful lessons of my own life:  the way to tell when someone is lying is to compare what they say to what they actually do. If someone does exactly what they say they’re going to do, they’re telling the truth. But if what they actually do isn’t what they tell you, they’re lying. The same thing applies to characters in novels.

Here’s an example. Suppose you’re reading a story about a man and a woman who are in love. They’re at the woman’s house. The woman secretly is afraid the relationship is over, but the man keeps reassuring her that everything is perfectly fine. (His words say that everything is fine.)  They’re talking, and the man stands up as if he’s going to leave. The woman feels anxious and asks, “Are you leaving?”  The man says, “No. I’m staying.” But he says those words while he’s putting on his coat and taking his keys out of his pocket. (His actions say that he’s getting ready to walk out the door…and he probably won’t be coming back.) Because his words and his actions don’t match, he’s lying.
When I first learned this lesson, it was a shocking experience because I suddenly realized not only how many people in my life had lied to me but I knew who they were. This knowledge also applies to reading. As a novelist, I encourage readers to not buy everything that comes out of a character’s mouth hook, line, and sinker. I want readers to question every character and watch the actions to see if that character is lying or telling the truth. I often use truth and lies to point to the heart of the story.

For example, in my Dragonslayer series, my main character Astrid is a very honest and truthful character.  She rarely lies and does so only when she feels backed into a corner and needs to protect herself.  She believes in treating all people fairly, and she backs up her words with her actions. But at the beginning of the series she doesn’t understand herself very well and doesn’t have much confidence. This makes her the perfect character to learn that she has the power to choose who she is. I believe novels are all about character growth. At the beginning of a book the main character has certain qualities, and by the end of that book that character has changed in some way, either good or bad. I think understanding that is half the battle of understanding the heart of the book. And I believe that understanding who’s telling the truth and who’s lying is important to understanding characters and how they grow throughout a novel.

About Resa:
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.
Connect with Resa: Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads



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