Please welcome Resa Nelson. She's the author of one of my favorite series, The Dragonslayer (my reviews: The Dragonslayer's Sword, The Iron Maiden, The Stone of Darkness).
1. Thank you for stopping by, Resa! Tell us a little about yourself.
Thanks so much for hosting my tour, Ruby! It’s wonderful to be here. I’ve been writing my whole life, and I can’t imagine not writing. The easiest way to explain it is that writing is like air – I can’t imagine how I would live without it. Outside of writing, I’m a big fan of museums, ballet, movies, and Broadway musicals. I’ve always loved nature and animals. One of the strangest things about me is that if I want to get a really good night’s sleep, the best thing to do is watch a really scary movie! I’m not sure why or how, but it always works like a charm.
2. When did you realize you wanted to become a writer?
When I was in the 2nd grade I had a class assignment (with two of my favorite classmates) to rewrite and draw pictures of a well-known children’s story. We chose The Three Little Kittens Who Lost Their Mittens. My memory of it (which may or may not be accurate) is that we were a big hit with our teacher and the whole class. So that taught me all I needed to know about the power of the written word. I was hooked!
3. What’s your favorite book?
This probably changes all the time. My favorite book that has shaped me the most is The Autobiography of Malcolm X. I was a child during the Civil Rights Movement, and it made a huge impact on me. I read this book when I was in high school, and it was the first time I’d witnessed someone taking charge of his life and deciding who and what he wanted to be. Every so often, Malcolm X would evaluate himself and his life—he’d keep the things he liked about himself but he’d change the parts he didn’t like. When I first read that book, I decided that’s how I want to live my life, and that might be the biggest force behind my Dragonslayer series because that’s what my main character does: she constantly decides who she wants to be and then takes action to make it happen. On a lighter note, when it comes to favorite novels, I love The Hunger Games!
4. What do you do when you’re not reading or writing?
I live near Boston so when I want some adventure, I go into the city to go to museums and plays or just walk around and enjoy the day. Although I must confess I’m a reality TV junkie. I’m not interested in dating shows, though. My favorite reality TV show is The Amazing Race because I’m a big fan of travel. I love the way that show honors different countries and cultures and how it strives to immerse the contestants in history and customs of the host country. I also love shows like America’s Got Talent. When someone has real talent and the audience embraces them—especially if they look like someone who might be shunned or ignored in real life—I get the best kind of chills. When I watch these shows, I often feel like I’m seeing the best side of humanity.
5. What’s your favorite and your least favorite part of the writing process?
I love the very beginning of a project. I recently finished writing the last book in my Dragonslayer series, so I’m thinking about what to do next. I’m spending the summer brainstorming and figuring out what the next book I write will be. It’s so much fun to not know! It feels like a real adventure. And as you might guess from what I’ve just said, my least favorite part is the very end of the editing process. It’s important to me to be sure everything lines up in terms of plot and continuity and all kinds of things. But … wow! What a tedious process!
6. Are you a plotter or a panster?
Ruby, thank you for bringing a new word into my life! I’d never heard “panster” before and had to look it up. I think I’m a weird hybrid. First, I need to think through the story and understand it in a general, loose kind of way. I do need to know certain points in the book before I write it – the beginning, a few points in the middle, and the ending. But when I write, I’m more of a panster. For example, I tear up paper into little squares (about 1” x 2”), and I use each square to note what I want to accomplish in each chapter. But I usually just write a few words on each square and never more than a couple of sentences. The goal is to write down what I want to accomplish in each chapter. Then I stack them up. (Sometimes I reshuffle them as I’m writing the book.) But when I sit down to actually write a chapter, something in my brain takes over and I feel like I’m watching a movie and writing down what I’m seeing. It’s weird. But really, really fun.
7. If you could be anyone of your characters, who would you be and why?
I’d really like to be the main character in my Dragonslayer series, Astrid. OK, the truth is that I probably am Astrid. I see so much of myself in her. For one thing, she’s a blacksmith who makes weapons. When I was researching the first book, I took a course in blacksmithing. Afterwards I found out that I come from a long line of blacksmiths! It turns out there are three generations in my family who are blacksmithing today. Honestly, I think it must be some kind of genetic memory that made me want to write about being a blacksmith. Oh, and I also took courses to learn historically accurate ways to use medieval weapons, which was incredibly fun. I was even a weapons demonstrator at a museum for a few years! Working with weapons was odd because I’m a pacifist (like Astrid), but I really like using swords (also, like Astrid).
8. We know that The Dragonslayer series is close to an end *sniffle* What are your plans after finishing this series?
I’m sniffling, too! Honestly, I had such a difficult time starting the last book. I felt like I was trying to force myself to write it. But then I figured out it was because I didn’t want the series to end (even though it needs to), and from that point on I was fine. My next book is going to be soft science fiction (maybe science fantasy) blended with mystery and action/adventure. But a woman is the hero—my mission as an author is to write about women who are strong, smart, and courageous. That’s what you can expect to see in any novel I write.
9. Can you tell us what to expect from book 4 of The Dragonslayer series? A little detail about Astrid’s future?
Poor Astrid! I’ve been so horrible to her! But she’s tough and she’ll figure out how to deal with everything I’ve thrown at her. Throughout the series I’ve been tight-lipped about the dragons and what they are and where they’re from. So Book 4 spells everything out. There are a lot of big surprises. Book 4 draws upon all of the books in the series in big ways and in small details. There are lots of clues planted in the first three books, and Book 4 pulls them all together. Astrid discovers new things about herself—and I didn’t even know one of those things until it happened! Different characters have to take different paths for different reasons. Astrid has a surprising change of heart about one character in her life. And she has one very big decision to make about who she wants to be. There are some new characters that play very important roles. I’m over-the-moon excited about Book 4. It’s coming out in November, and I can barely stand the wait!
Thank you for stopping by, Resa!
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.
Synopsis for The Stone of Darkness (Book 3)
In Book 3 of the Dragonslayer series, Astrid accepts her duty and follows the winter route--until she's bitten by a dragon. Everyone knows dragon bites are poisonous and deadly, so she reluctantly accepts her impending death. In a twist of fate, she survives. Desperate for an explanation, Astrid believes she has somehow been protected by the black stone she keeps with her at all times, a stone that emerged from the sole of her foot a year ago.
Determined to find out what the stone is and what kind of powers it possesses, Astrid begins a journey that leads her to alchemists and an army of men under the rule of the powerful warrior, Mandulane, the acting lord of the Krystr army. Mandulane's mission is to spread the word of the new god Krystr, which preaches the evil intent of women and the danger they pose to all men, who are entitled to dominate the world. Rumors about this new god and army have spread, but Astrid is the first Northlander to encounter them.
Soon, she stumbles upon a secret of a far-reaching and mind-numbing plot that will impact the entire world. Astrid must find a way to spread the news of this threat and protect her people and everyone else at risk. She's convinced the answer lies inside the Stone of Darkness, and she must find a way to understand the stone and the powers she's convinced it must hold before it's too late.
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.