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In the Author Spotlight & Contest

Resa Nelson

CONTEST: One commenter will win a free copy of The Dragonslayer’s Sword! Please leave your email address so I can contact you.

AL: Hi Resa! Thanks for being in the “Author Spotlight” this week.

Resa: Thanks very much for inviting me here – I appreciate it!

AL: So, tell us what’s happening with you.

Resa: I’m hanging out with friends as much as I can this summer. I live near Boston, and I’m hoping to hit the major museums: I’ve already been to the Museum of Fine Arts, and I’d like to get to the New England Aquarium and the Museum of Science (although I might wait until Fall because the new Harry Potter exhibit opens in October, I think). I also have plans to walk the Freedom Trail, a self-guided path through Boston to historical hot spots. So I guess I’m doing a lot of the touristy things that locals usually never get around to doing.

AL: What do you have for us to read?

Resa: My first novel, The Dragonslayer’s Sword. It’s the first in a series, but it works as a standalone novel.

AL: What got you diving into fantasy?

Resa: It started when I was a little girl. As soon as I learned how to read, I was constantly at the public library. The children’s section was in the basement, and I remember spending a lot of time there, exploring to see what kind of books I could find. I loved mythology, folk tales, and fairy tales. I think this resulted in a natural progression to fantasy.

AL: What part of you do you put into your characters?

Resa: It depends on the character. I have to find a way to identify with every character in every novel I write – even the villains. I have to understand every character’s point of view and world view, meaning, how that character views the current situation and what he or she believes about the world and the people who live in it. Sometimes there’s a lot of me in a character and sometimes I really have to search deep to find a way to connect.

AL: When you write do you do a detailed outline before you get started or do you have the idea then just 'fly by the seat of your pants'? :-)

Resa: I’m somewhere in the middle. I have to know the basic story, and I have to know the ending. A lot of times there’s a very specific image I need to be able to see that’s tied to the ending. I have to know exactly what I’m trying to say by writing the novel – what it is I’m doing thematically. And I need to have a basic grasp of my characters. So I’ll do a basic outline and then I tend to block out 100 pages at a time. But even my 100-page outlines are as basic as “In Chapter 1, this needs to happen. In Chapter 2, this needs to happen.” The analogy I always make is that it’s like going on vacation. You decide where to go on vacation, and you’ll probably book a flight or get maps if you’re driving. You might book a hotel in advance. You might have a general idea of what you want to do every day, but you don’t know exactly what each day will be like until you experience it. That’s how I write. I think about the entire novel carefully, but I leave space open for it to breathe and grow as I’m writing it.

AL: Now for some fun questions! Sometimes people envision an author’s life as being really glamorous…tell us what’s the most unglamorous thing you’ve done in the past week?

Resa: My laptop is cranky. I don’t mind heat and humidity, but it does. After my early-morning step aerobics (which involves a lot of sweating), I opted not to take a shower for the sake of my cranky laptop. I had a lot on my plate, and I couldn’t afford for my laptop to shut down after running for 10 minutes, which is what happens when there’s too much humidity. I live in a small condo, and steam from the bathroom or kitchen spreads everywhere quickly. I figured no one would be seeing (or smelling) me today, so I thought, what’s the harm? When I went down to my building’s laundry room to pick up my load from the dryer, two workmen were repairing the floor and had to endure stinky me. The poor guys!

AL: If you could go anywhere in the world and write to your hearts delight, where would you go, what would your story be about and what is the title?

Resa: I’d go to Scandinavia and travel in Norway, Sweden, and Denmark to write Book 3 of my series. The Dragonslayer’s Sword is the first book in a four-book series. I’m close to finishing Book 2 (The Iron Maiden), and the working title of Book 3 is The Stone of Darkness. I wish I could tell you more, but all I can say is that it continues the adventures of my main character, Astrid.

AL: What's your favorite music?

Resa: Show tunes. I’m a huge fan of Broadway musicals and am in awe of how much emotion and information can be conveyed in just one song. Right now my favorite Broadway show CD is Wicked.

AL: You have just won five thousand dollars! But...you have to spend it all today. What will you buy?

Resa: I’d replace my cranky laptop! And then I’d book a trip somewhere. Maybe I could go to Costa Rica for a week or so and explore the rainforest.

AL: Please share a favorite quote(s) with us.

Resa: Every problem has a solution – you just have to figure out what it is.

AL: Thanks so much for sharing with joining us this week, Resa.

Resa: Thanks, Ann! It’s been lovely. (And next time I’ll shower – I promise!)

AL: If you’d like to find out more about Resa please visit:



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?


When Taddeo came for the repaired Magenta, Astrid was prepared. He'd never catch her off guard again.
She glanced at the sword leaning against a nearby tree stump, then smiled. She'd worked long and hard hours on that sword.

Taddeo leered at her, the expression in his eyes assuming more than it should. "You may deliver the Magenta to my camp at noon."
Astrid concentrated on her work. "No."

"Tonight, then?"

"No." Astrid looked evenly at Taddeo. "You can have her now or come back some other time."
Insult edged his voice as he looked at the sword leaning against the tree stump. "Where is the Magenta's stone?"

Instead of the crimson stone, a small rock was imbedded in the hilt.

"Once in my hands, the gem turned to stone." Astrid gauged his reaction: surprise followed by hesitation. Followed by a tolerant but determined smile.

As she'd suspected, he knew such a thing was impossible. Unless one believed in magic and enchantment.

Another sword rested on top of the anvil behind Astrid. She handed the Magenta—with the gemstone replaced—to Taddeo.

He smiled, examining her work. "There are other weapons I would have you forge for me."
Taddeo had failed to lure her into his lair. Now he sought other reasons for contact with her.


The tone of Taddeo's voice didn't alter. "I would pay, of course." He glanced at her. "Whenever price you desire."

"I'm committed to other work."

"At a later time, then."

"No," Astrid said softly. "I think not."

Taddeo's face changed. A leer etched itself darkly in his eyes as they became narrower and smaller. His nose grew misshapen. The lines that had so beautifully defined his jaw and cheekbones weakened. His posture slackened and his youth faded.

Astrid watched in shocked silence. It was the first time Taddeo's shape had ever changed—she'd thought it was impossible. She'd thought he was too strong to let anyone's opinion of him take hold.

"I know other blacksmiths in other towns," he said. "The quality of their work lacks much. But it may be time to seek a change. Perhaps I have killed enough lizards for Guell." He paused, waiting for Astrid to protest. "Other towns seek my services."

Astrid calmly stood her ground. "It's a decision you alone can make."

His eyes squinted in an unbecoming manner as he searched her face.

Astrid wanted to remember Taddeo as she'd known him, not as he'd become. As hard as she tried, she couldn't remember exactly what he had looked like, only moments ago.

Astrid started at the rumble of thunder. She looked up, but the sky was clear and blue. No storm in sight.

Taddeo raised his head, his nostrils flaring. He sniffed the air like a dog. Then he knelt, laying one ear to the ground.

Astrid cried out as a dragon came crashing through the birch trees. In the distance, someone screamed.

The dragon looked like an enormous, fattened snake with bowed, crab-like legs. Its scales were dark and mottled, like tiny unlit coals spread evenly across the forge table. Long ridges shadowed its eyes on its flat serpent head, and the veined jowls at its throat heaved like a bellows. It lowered its belly to the ground, sizing up its prey.

Its long, forked, yellow tongue flicked as rapidly as new flames.

"Aiy yah!" Taddeo shouted, grasping the hilt of the Magenta. But when he leapt forward, the Magenta held him back. The sword was too heavy for him to wield.

The dragonslayer looked at the Magenta in disbelief, as if his best friend had betrayed him. Then he looked at his arms and his body, no longer large and muscular, but now withered with age. Until this moment, Taddeo hadn't noticed how severely Astrid's perception had changed him.

The dragon inhaled their fear, its tail cracking the birch trunks as it lashed back and forth.
Taddeo's gaze lifted toward Astrid. Enraged, he shouted, "Change me back!"

She didn't hear his words. Astrid stared at the dragon, mesmerized by its yellow eyes, as big as saucers.

Primal eyes.

Unwittingly, her breath began to match the rhythm of the dragon's panting.

Its curved and serrated teeth glistened, ivory sharp in its slackened jaw, dripping with spittle.
"Aiy yah!" Taddeo mustered his strength, pulling with all his might on the hilt. Still unable to raise the sword, he dragged it in the dust until the tip lay between him and the dragon.

With the agility of a cat pinning a mouse by the tail, the dragon slapped the sword flat on the ground with one foot.

Taddeo shouted, refusing to release the hilt, falling to the ground with the sword. The dragon's sharp, curved claws sliced Taddeo's cheek. The wound raised a welt, then bled steadily.

Oblivious, Taddeo grimaced, kicking at the dragon's foot to make it let go of the Magenta.

The dragon's jaw dropped slightly, and for a moment it looked like it was smiling.

Taddeo held onto the hilt of the Magenta with both hands, pivoting on his side, pushing with both feet against the dragon's foot, the tendons stretching taut in his face and neck and arms.

With its free front foot, the dragon pinned Taddeo's head to the ground.

"No!" Astrid snapped out of her fog. She reached for the sword leaning against the tree stump.
Astrid faced the dragon. Now knowing what else to do, She gripped the hilt with both hands, holding the sword spear-like above her head. She aimed the point directly at the dragon's yellow eye. "Let him go!"

Deftly, the dragon batted Astrid in the chest, knocking the sword from her hands and the wind from her lungs.

Backing away, she picked up the sword.

The same sword that had felt so much a part of her when she'd forged it felt alien to her now. She knew what to do with a hammer and tongs. But this sword—it felt like a stranger.
Taddeo was willing to give his all. Why shouldn't she?

Hands trembling, Astrid tried pointing the sword at the dragon and running straight toward it. Fear pulled her up short, and she found herself running away instead. It was as if her feet had betrayed her head.

She tightened her grip, focusing on the cool, hard touch of iron. She had to find a way to be just as cool and hard.

Gathering her courage with a quick breath, she ran forward, pointing the sword at the dragon.
The dragon evaded her blow, only getting nicked.

But her attack forced the dragon to let go of the Magenta and Taddeo.

Astrid fell, pulled by the force of her missed blow, landing face first in the dust. She scrambled up to her feet.

The dragon panted loudly behind her.

Spinning to face it, she was struck numb with horror.

She saw herself reflected in the dragon's amber eyes. What she saw on her own face was what she had seen on DiStephan's face the day she saw him kill a dragon, the day he'd frightened her.
Astrid and DiStephan had gone out in the woods on a picnic when DiStephan had smelled dragon in the air. It wasn't an adult dragon that DiStephan had killed. It wasn't even a fledgling.

It was a hatchling, weak and vulnerable.

DiStephan's fighting instinct had kicked in. All he'd known was that it was a dragon, and he fought with full force. He didn't simply kill the hatchling. He'd beaten it into bloody pulp, acting more like an animal than a man.

For the first time, he'd scared her. Instead of feeling safe with him by her side, she'd felt endangered.

That was eight months ago.

Now she saw the desire to kill for the sake of killing on her own face. It was something she never imagined she'd see.

Taddeo's face was covered with blood and dust, and he cried out again as he pulled the Magenta weakly toward the dragon, barely nudging its belly.

The dragon batted Taddeo across the smithery yard, then raised its foot to Astrid.

"No!" Astrid raised her sword steadily. "I don't want to hurt you!"

The dragon snorted, its eyes narrowing.

"I know about you," she said shakily, staring back. "You make people smaller and weaker, and sometimes they're so scared they turn into deer, and the only way you can tell they were ever people is to look in their eyes, because that's all that's left of who they used to be." Astrid shook her head slightly, looking straight into the dragon's eyes. "Don't do that."

The dragon stepped closer, its sideways-angled legs moving in opposition. It stepped on the thick pads of its feet, dragging the back of its paws against the ground. The tips of its claws barely grazed the grass as they lifted with each new step. As the dragon lumbered, it seemed to throw its limbs forward through sheer will.

Astrid stood her ground, but she wanted to run away. In a moment of panic, she drew the sword in close to her body. She held it vertically, unwittingly using it more like a shield than a sword. As the dragon stepped close enough to touch her, she kept the blade between them. One sharp edge touched the dragon's nose, the other, her own skin.

Terrified, Astrid babbled.

"I know you're hungry," she said. "But don't eat people. There are animals in the forest. There are grain fields and wild berries in the south. There's food all around—you don't need anyone in Guell!"

As the dragon leaned forward, Astrid pressed back the pressure with the blade, still not cutting the dragon's skin. "I know you don't understand what I'm saying, but I think you understand what I mean."

The dragon sniffed her hair, then licked the sweat from her arms with the tips of its forked yellow tongue, sending chills down Astrid's back. Before she could blink, the dragon sprang back through the birch trees.

Trembling, Astrid sank to the dirt, both hands still clinging to the hilt of her sword.

With a thud, Taddeo sat next to her. He stared at the birch trees in disbelief. "That," he said, panting, "I have never seen. The beast took you up on your offer."

"Dragons aren't that much different from you or me," Astrid said, shaken. "They just live the best way they know how."

Taddeo looked younger, as if he'd regained most of his strength. "If you were not so compassionate, you could be a dragonslayer." Taddeo shook his head, looking at Astrid with admiration and only a hint of desire.

Astrid stared at the trees, gasping, feeling her heart shake. "I don't want to be a dragonslayer."
She thought about DiStephan. Now she understood the primitive rage he'd felt when he slaughtered the hatchling on a gentle spring day. It was something she never wanted to feel again.

"You realize, of course," Taddeo said, standing and offering her a hand up, "you have now dismissed a week's meal for the town."

Astrid accepted his hand, leaning on her sword as she stood. "There will be others." She looked out toward the birches, then squinted at Taddeo. "I trust you won't let the next one get away."
Taddeo caught his breath, then relaxed into a smile. "No," he said with confidence. "That is the last one to get away."

Realizing her clothes felt loose, Astrid looked down to see that her body had returned to its normal shape and size.

"That happened when you fought the lizard," Taddeo said. "You returned to yourself."

Awkward and hesitant, Astrid gave him a slight smile. "You've returned to yourself, too."

"Yes," Taddeo said, clearing his throat. "As has the Magenta." He bowed slightly. "Thank you for your work."

"You're welcome," she said, watching the dragonslayer walk away with the sword she had forged for him.

REMEMBER: One commenter will win a free copy of The Dragonslayer’s Sword! Please leave your email address so I can contact you.


SiNn said...

first to comment thatc ould be good could be bad i soo wanna read this book and that cover holy wow im a dragon lover from all get out and thats just stunning two of my favorite things swords and dragons i have to say tho this seems like an awesome book for sure so congrats on the series i look forward to reading it

Tanya Hanson said...

What a great interview and excerpt! And enjoy Boston. I visited there autumn 2007 and can't wait to go back.

Your series promises to be popular!



Anonymous said...

A Great cover and love the excerpt!
For the 'library' story, yeah we're the same. I remember that i used to go to the library 2 or 3 times a week. And it took me 4 or 5 hours in there! And after that i'd still borrowed 4 books from library : )

uniquas at ymail dot com

Gram said...

That excerpt was quite tantalizing. I am looking forward to reading the rest.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this wonderful interview!


SiNn said...

oops i didnt give my email addy

mortalsinn @ yahoo .com

Eddie said...

I have met Resa, and have read some of her short stories. I find her writings original and I find her very interesting. I hope to get to read the Dragonslayer soon.
And I was pleased with the quality of the interveiw.