In the fourth and final book of the Dragonslayer series, Mandulane's army is poised to attack the Northlands in the name of a powerful god, but in truth Mandulane is using the act of spreading this new faith as a way to disguise his own personal greed and hunger for power. Astrid has succeeded in warning her beloved country of imminent danger, and the Northlanders scramble to set up a clever defense, never realizing a spy in their midst is poised to take critical information directly to Mandulane.
How Reading Mysteries Influences the Fantasy Novels I Write
by Resa Nelson
Although I write fantasy and science fiction novels, the mysteries I read for fun have a huge influence on my work. Ironically, I rarely read fantasy and science fiction, because I don’t want other authors’ work to seep into my brain and someday color my own work. It’s important to me to strive to be original, and that’s difficult for me to do when I read within my genre. Ironically, reading mysteries influences my work in a very positive way.
I fell in love with mysteries when I was a child. When I was in elementary school I fell in love with Sherlock Holmes. By the time I was in junior high school I was hooked on Edgar Allan Poe and Agatha Christie, as well as movies directed by Alfred Hitchcock. In adulthood I became a fan of Hitchcock and Ellery Queen magazines. These days my favorite TV shows include Dexter, The Closer (so sad to see it end!), and Major Crimes. I’m a huge fan of Harlan Coben and Dennis Lehane and will read anything they write. I’m always on the lookout for mystery writers new to me, ready at the drop of a hat to become obsessed with their novels.
But how do they influence the fantasy and science fiction I write? One of my goals as a writer is to never bore my readers. I believe the greatest gift anyone can give is their time, and I’m deeply honored whenever anyone is willing to take a chance on my work and give their time to reading one of my novels. I respect every reader’s time as much as I want other people to respect my time. I gravitate to mysteries because they don’t bore me. I like books that make me think. I like novels that put questions in my head.
In a nutshell, I’ve always liked puzzles and trying to solve them.
For that reason, no matter what kind of novel I write, there’s always some kind of mystery at the heart of it. For example, I have a 4-book Dragonslayer series about Astrid, a female blacksmith who makes swords for dragonslayers. On a superficial level, it’s an epic fantasy modeled on the Viking era. But there’s a mystery within each book as well as a mystery that runs throughout the entire series. Astrid quickly discovers there are two different types of dragons: dangerous overgrown lizards that should be killed and shapeshifters who can take either dragon or human form. No one else in the world seems to know about the shapeshifting dragons that befriend Astrid and have a complicated relationship with her. The mystery that runs through the series revolves around what these dragons really are and why they want to know Astrid. Decades of being a mystery fan gave me a lot of ideas for how to shape each book’s mystery and the mystery that binds the series together.
I also have a standalone novel (Our Lady of the Absolute) about a modern-day society based on ancient Egypt, which leans more toward being a mystery/thriller than a fantasy novel. While getting ready to write this novel, I was reading a Harlan Coben novel and was thrilled with the villain because he terrified me. I kept thinking I wish I could create a villain like this. Within a few days I had an idea for a female serial killer, and creating her is one of the most fun things I’ve ever done as a writer. She’s nothing like Coben’s scary villain – but being scared by his villain helped me create my own. This novel has four major characters whose lives interweave throughout the book, and it’s a mystery that ties them together.
Mysteries have influenced me to the point where the novel I’m currently writing is a present-day science fiction novel that I hope reads more like a mystery. One of the main characters is a small-town detective who is facing a mystery that appears to be a simple case of murder but that will ultimately have a global impact when he solves the case.
Resa Nelson’s 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, which also includes The Iron Maiden (Book 2), The Stone of Darkness (Book 3), and The Dragon’s Egg (Book 4).
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 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.
Resa lives in Massachusetts. Visit her website and blog at http://www.resanelson.com. You can find her books at http://www.amazon.com/Resa-Nelson/e/B002C78D2Q/ref=ntt_athr_dp_pel_pop_1