Thanks to author Resa Nelson for this guest post and for letting us be a part of her blog tour. At the end of this post there is a link for a free ebook along with other site information.
Even though I write fantasy, I’m a big believer in doing my homework! First, I do a lot of library research. For example, I modeled my Dragonslayer series on the beginning of the Viking era. Even though I see my series as taking place in a world parallel to ours, I like the idea of making it as realistic as possible. I want people who read my books to feel like they’re really in that world and in the thick of everything that’s going on. One way for me to do that was to research the Viking era (which I already loved) and the Middle Ages. I wanted to learn things like how houses were made and what type of clothing people wore and lots of other details to make the world feel real.
But my main character Astrid is a female blacksmith, so I decided I needed some hands-on experience. When I was trying to figure out how to do that, I happened to go out to dinner with a large group of friends I’d run into at a science fiction convention. I mentioned wanting to learn blacksmithing to a friend who had a friend (who had come to dinner with us) that had recently taken a course in blacksmithing. So we talked about it, and I decided I needed to take that course. It turned out to be a pretty significant commitment, but I was up for it. The course lasted for 10 weeks, and there was one class each week – each class lasted for 4 hours, which meant 4 hours of standing at an anvil hammering iron or steel. Classes were held on Thursday nights, so I had to figure out how to avoid traffic jams. The commute to where the course was held was about 90 miles. Each class ran from 6 to 10 pm, so I didn’t get home until nearly midnight! And when I got home, I reeked of smoke and had to take a shower because my skin was covered in black, sooty smudges.
But I didn’t mind. Taking that blacksmithing course was so much fun! I learned how to build a fire and keep it going. I learned how to read the changing colors of the smoke and what they meant. I learned the special things I had to do in order to keep up with my all-male, brawny classmates. I learned what different tools were for and how to use them. And I learned about heating iron and the meaning of the different colors it takes when heated and how to make the best use of them.
I put not only all the wonderful details I learned and experienced from my blacksmithing course into my novel, but I poured my own feelings in as well. I gained a whole new appreciation for who Astrid is and what her daily life is like. Despite the traffic and the long class hours and my smelly, sooty skin, taking that blacksmithing course turned out to be one of the best adventures of my life.
And oddly enough, after I took the course I found out I come from a long line of blacksmiths. Right now there are three generations in my extended family who are blacksmiths!
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 Nelson’s 4-book Dragonslayer series:
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.
Book 4 will be published in November 2012
Links for further infomation
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