I’ve known since I was in the 2nd grade that I wanted to be a novelist, but I started out as a short story writer because I felt I needed time to really work at the craft of writing. I live in the Boston area and love it. I like to live far enough away from the city to be close to wildlife but close enough that I can get there quickly and easily to go to museums and plays and the ballet. I’ve written a 4-book series (Book 4 will be published this November) about Astrid, a female blacksmith who lives in a world where dragons, ghosts, and shapeshifters are real. She makes swords for dragonslayers, and her world is constantly changing so she has to learn how to change with it. I’ve also written a standalone novel called Our Lady of the Absolute, which is about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt. It leans toward being a mystery/thriller.
How much control did you have have over the cover design of your book? Do you like it? If you didn't design it yourself, how do you think it would have turned out if you did?
One of the things I love about my publisher is that they like having input from authors about book covers! For my first novel (The Dragonslayer’s Sword), I had absolutely no idea what I wanted so I left it up to my publisher. The cover they came up with was great. But for my second book (the one about ancient Egypt), I threw a lot of ideas at them. I said, “Isis is important in the book, so a winged goddess would be good. The Eye of Horus is important, so that would be good. Maybe a desert. Maybe a pyramid.” And the cover they came up with was amazing! I got even more specific for my second Dragonslayer book (The Iron Maiden). Because I modeled my Dragonslayer series on the beginning of the Viking era, I knew I wanted something that looked like a classic silver Viking broach. I explained what I was thinking of and sent photos of real Viking broaches to my publisher. I love the cover of The Iron Maiden so much that I wish I had a real broach that looked just like it!
How many finished stories did you write before seeing your first book published? Do you think you'll ever go back to them and try again?
My first published novel (The Dragonslayer’s Sword) is actually the third one I wrote. I’m getting ready to rewrite the first book I wrote, starting from scratch. The second book that didn’t sell needs to be the final novel in a series, and I plan to write that series one day. Also, I think I wrote about 100 short stories before I wrote my first novel, and I sold about 20 of them.
What is one thing you'd like your readers to take away from your book(s)?
In the Dragonslayer series, Astrid learns that she must constantly choose who she is. I want readers to think about how they have the power to be whatever kind of person they want to be. You can’t always control the things that happen to you, but you can always control how you respond. I think that’s where your real power is – the fact that every day, every hour, every minute, every second, you always have the power to be the person you want to be by how you choose to respond to any given situation.
What was life like for you when YOU were a teen?
It was mixed. On one hand, I felt invisible when it came to school and popular kids. It’s like no one knew I existed. I think I had one date when I was a sophomore and one date when I was a senior. And it didn’t get much better when I went to college! So that pretty much made me feel unwanted and unlovable. On the other hand, I was lucky to have the most amazing friends! I always joke that we were so far out in left field that we were out of the ballpark. We were silly and creative and were always laughing. We did lots of fun things together all the time. For example, one day a couple of my friends and I (who had a course in science fiction together) decided we needed to act like our own marching band when we went to class. So we lined up and pretended to play invisible instruments, marched down the middle of the school hallway, and made a big deal of it. Everyone stared at us as if we’d lost our marbles. I still think it’s funny.
Do you have any fun hobbies other than reading and writing? What are they?
I love movies and Broadway musicals and ballet and museums. Also, when I was researching my Dragonslayer novels I learned historically accurate ways to use medieval weapons and became a weapons demonstrator at a museum. It was a blast!
Is there a Y.A. novel you wish YOU wrote?
Yes. A Wrinkle In Time is a book that stays with me. I adore it. More recently, I’m a huge fan of The Hunger Games. I haven’t read the other two books in the series yet, but they’re in my short stack of Books I Want To Read ASAP.
Would you prefer to be a dragon rider, a dragon slayer, or the dragon itself?
A dragonslayer! But I’d want to do it in my Dragonslayer world because there are different types of dragons: the dangerous kind that are extremely dangerous and the kind you want to befriend. Part of the trick is figuring out which is which.
What is the most fun you’ve ever had?
The first thing that pops in my head happened when I was a teen. The father of one of my friends asked another friend and I to join him and his daughter in painting the outside of their house. Our payment would be a day at a local amusement park. It was summer and it was hot. It took a few days to paint the house, and my friend’s father took care of painting the highest parts. And when we finished and we spent a day at the amusement park, he followed us all over the park, letting us stay as long as we wanted and do all the things we wanted to do. He was so positive and joyful, and he let us know that he appreciated the work we did in painting his house. I remember that when we got overheated, he taught us how to take ice out of our sodas and hold the ice against our wrists to cool down. For years after that, every time I went over to my friend’s house, I looked at the outside and remember how I’d helped to paint it. I had as much fun painting the house as I did at the amusement park.
What advice would you give your teen readers about life?
I’m seeing a pattern today that I think hurts teens a great deal – I think it might just be happening in the U.S., but I don’t know for sure. What I’m seeing is that a lot of adults don’t teach teens how to fail. What I mean by that is how to respond to failure and how to use failure to your advantage. I see young people acting devastated by any kind of failure and just giving up and acting like victims. I think one of the great things about being a writer is that you have to deal with rejection all the time. That may sound weird, but it’s so true. After a while, you learn that rejection isn’t personal. It just means there’s a mismatch. I’ve been lucky that my publisher has accepted every book I’ve written so far, but my short stories still get rejected by magazine editors all the time! It just means a particular story isn’t what the editor is looking for. But it also inspires me to keep working at the craft of writing so I can keep getting better with every book and story I write. That’s because I’ve learned how to fail. I know it’s not the end of the world. I know it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong with me. And I know that failure helps me learn and grow, and that’s important to me. Learning to fail is far more important than learning how to succeed. I think every failure can be a stepping stone to success, but if you don’t know how to fail you can miss seeing that stepping stone and then you’ll end up stuck in one place.
Thank you for sharing with us today, Resa! You can learn more about Resa Nelson and her series below:
Resa Nelson’s 4-book Dragonslayer series:
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?
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.
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.
Book 4 will be published in November 2012
You can find links to buy the above books below:
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:
http://mundania.com/author.php?author=Resa+Nelson (get a 10% discount at checkout with the coupon code MP10)
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.
You can find her on