M: Welcome Resa! Thank you for stopping by the blog on your tour! It is an honor to have you by.
RN: Thank you so much for hosting my tour, Melissa! I’m honored that you were willing to take a chance on me and my work.
M: You are currently celebrating the release of book 3, The Stone of Darkness, in the Dragonslayer series. Congratulations! I’ve read the first book, The Dragonslayer’s Sword, and fell in love with the creation you have here. (I’ve got the second, The Iron Maiden, and third book here ready to go.) Would you like to share a little of what the series is about for my followers as they are new to the series as well?
RN: The series is all about Astrid. She’s a blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers, which is ironic because she’s a pacifist. She loves her work but struggles with the idea that what she creates is used to kill. The world she lives in is one where ghosts are real and many people (including Astrid) are shapeshifters. But shapeshifting is all about perception, so it’s controlled by how you feel and see other people as well as yourself. We first meet her when she’s a little girl and is covered from head to toe in scars because she’s been chewed up and spit out by a dragon.
M: There are a few elements in the book that were surprises and very interesting to learn. They are all related but rather interesting to learn throughout reading. The shifting. The dragons (and real dragons). And Dragonslayers. Did any of these pieces come first or all together?
RN: That’s a great question, Melissa – thanks so much for asking it! The shapeshifting came first. This series began as a short story that was published in Science Fiction Age magazine many years ago. I wrote it after I’d been propositioned by a co-worker – a married man with two young children! But he had a lot of power at work, and I had none. Based on my experience with the company, I knew the odds were good that I’d get fired if I reported him because I suspected he’d lie and they’d believe him, not me. So I decided to put my experience in a fantasy world modeled on the Middle Ages where a female blacksmith would be propositioned by the dragonslayer responsible for protecting everyone she loves and cares about. I used shapeshifting as a way to illustrate how his actions were having an impact on her. So that’s how everything started. Most of the details about the dragons and dragonslayers didn’t happen until I wrote Book 1, which came about 10 years after I wrote the short story.
M: Astrid is a damaged character as we start, and even later in the book we see her falter in that feeling again. For me the book had a strong feeling of Astrid finding herself and where she belonged. Was this the underlining feeling as you wrote the story?
RN: This was my intent for the book and actually for the entire series. I think there are many people in the world who don’t realize they have the power to take control of their lives, and that ‘s what I wanted to write about. I know what that feels like. The world can be an overwhelming place, especially if there are any people in your life who want to control you for their own benefit. I think our culture is one that supports judgment, and being judged by others can make it very difficult to live the life you believe is right for you. In my opinion, the bottom line is that you are the only person who has ever lived inside your skin, and for that reason you are the only person who knows what’s right for you. Astrid’s journey is about getting to a place where she can understand that concept and then figure out who she wants to be.
M: Do you have any inspirational places to bring you into the fantasy world? Or spark ideas in the fantasy world?
RN: No, I’m lucky in that it’s all internal. So I can be sitting in my dentist’s waiting room or on an airplane or standing in line to get my driver’s license renewed and go into my fantasy worlds whenever I want. When I do that, the “real” world literally disappears. It’s kind of like being inside a movie.
M: Resa, that sounds like a great ability! You can go anywhere at anytime.
M: Resa, I have to ask and you mentioned in your acknowledgements, there was a lot of work that went into the metal working to be able to write so detailed in this arena. This is what Astrid does, and it’s her life work-love. Could you please share just a taste of what you did to understand the process of metal forging to write it?
RN: Absolutely! I read several books, including one book that explains the technique Astrid uses to make swords. But I’m a big believer in “physical” research, meaning, if there’s anything I can do that my characters would do, I want to at least get a taste of it. So to get a better idea of what Astrid’s life is like, I took a 10-week course in blacksmithing, which was a fantastic experience. There was only one class each week, but each class was 4 hours at an anvil hammering iron or steel. By the end of the course, my forearms were as hard and solid as rocks – I felt so powerful! But I learned a lot about things like building a fire and the different colors it turns and what the smoke is like. I learned about the different colors iron turns when it’s heated and what those colors mean. So the blacksmithing details come from my own personal experience.
M: I love the sounds of doing the work as well. And blacksmithing would be something neat to try and learn.
M: Now, I’m just curious, and I’m not that far yet, but is that a Bloodstone in sword on the cover of The Stone of Darkness or something new completely I have yet to learn about?
RN: It’s like a bloodstone, and it comes to Astrid in the same way that bloodstones come to her. But it’s black, not red, so it has different properties. And because of its color, it’s called a stone of darkness instead of a bloodstone. (Although the stone of darkness on the cover is surrounded by a bunch of smaller bloodstones.) Astrid spends a lot of Book 3 trying to find out what the stone of darkness is and why it has come into her life.
M: Oh man! I really need to get to The Stone of Darkness now. I'm curious about this new stone.
M: Have you always been a fantasy fan? What attracted you to fantasy worlds?
RN: Yes! I was a regular at my hometown’s public library when I was a kid. I’d always been a big fan of fairy tales, which led me to read folk tales from all over the world, and I think that led me to fantasy. It felt like a natural progression.
M: A few fun questions for you…
M: One question I ask all visitors on their first visit… If you could travel anywhere in the world where would you go?
RN: I’m a huge fan of travel so that’s a tough question because I have a long list of places I want to go! At the moment I really want to go to Costa Rica because I love nature and animals.
M: Tea or Coffee?
RN: Tea, definitely. I tried coffee when I was three years old (after pestering my mom until she gave in) and hated the taste. I’ve never gotten over it.
M: That's cute, and yes coffee seems to be an acquired taste. :)
M: Favorite Color:
M: Favorite Childhood Fictional Creature?
RN: Oooh … another tough question! So many to choose from! Pegasus, the winged horse.
M: Oh I do enjoy that question. :) I was always flipping back and forth between Pegasus and Unicorns.
M: Now as an adult what’s your Favorite Fictional Creature? (can be the same as when you were a child)
RN: I like gargoyles.
M: Favorite Word? (Any word at all)
M: Honestly I had to go look up Defenestration. And as it's cool to say, I like the definition as well! LOL
M: Thank you for joining us today!
RN: Thank you, Melissa, for letting me be part of your blog and for asking such great questions!
M: I do wish you all the best in words and pages. And look forward to finishing out the series!
RN: You’re so kind! I really hope you enjoy the rest of the series.
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.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Feel free to visit Resa. She can be found...
Resa’s website: http://www.resanelson.com
Resa mentions above about the short story that started it all. She has this available for free reading on her site. Free “mini” ebook of Dragonslayer short stories: http://www.resanelson.com/files
*** There's a giveaway currently going on at Goodreads! For The Stone of Darkness
GoodReads giveaway: http://www.goodreads.com/giveaway/show/27323-the-stone-of-darkness
If you would like to purchase the books, there are a few places to find them and a few deals as well:
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)
About Resa's 4-book Dragonslayer series:
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?
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.
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.
Book 4 will be published in November 2012
Do hope you get a chance to try out this dragonslayer series.