Author Interview w/ Dallas Coryell

If you read my last post then you know I read this love story by Dallas Coryell which was really great. You can read my review – Melody’s Key by Dallas Coryell. So I thought of doing an interview with him. I asked him 5 questions and here are his answers:

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1) What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?

I love this question because it represents the most challenging and risky part of the book, and at the same time embodies the most enjoyable part of writing this story.  As a male author it was certainly a daunting task to write a 3rd person limited perspective story where the entirety of the book is spent in a female character’s head.  There was a huge temptation to speak with my own voice when writing the character which, of course, would not be accurate.  To overcome this danger I spent a lot of time interviewing many female friends and family members on a variety of topics including what they found attractive about men, what their process was for dealing with grief and hardship, guilty pleasures, fantasies, political views, friendship dynamics, etc.  I found that every woman was different in their approach to life, so I created a blending of these aspects and included just a bit of my own celebrity crush to get the final result 😉  My hope was that Tegan’s character would be authentic and unique, but also relatable in her perspective and personality.

2) How do you select the names of your characters?

The names of the characters were very important to me, and each has it’s own meaning.  Since it would take pages to talk about all of them, I will just address the most important name: Tegan Melody Lockwood.  As readers go through the story they find out that Tegan’s name is very significant to the story and to her personality.  Tegan means beautiful and is Irish in origin (her mother has Irish and Scottish roots).  An important point to make here is that Tegan definitely knows other people think she is beautiful (guys constantly approach her); however, she does not feel beautiful, and in fact, attempts to hide her beauty to discourage romantic advances.  Part of her journey of healing is realizing it’s ok to let someone love her and to enjoy that person finding her beautiful.  I should also mention: the key to her beauty goes much deeper than her body or face, as Mason points out.  As an A-list celebrity Mason is around beautiful women all the time, so this is not what attracts or impresses him.  It is her heart and passion that sets her apart and causes him to fall for her, despite her early attempts to push him away.  Her middle name, Melody, refers to how music acts as an entry point to her heart, which is ultimately the way Mason finally makes a connection with her.  Her last name, Lockwood, is a metaphor for how guarded and inaccessible her heart is due to dark events in her past, and how nature (specifically her family’s land) is a part of who she is.

3) Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or good ones?

So many authors say not to read the reviews, and I completely understand why after reading some of the comments on my favorite books.  Some of the vitriol on TFIOS was shocking, considering the impact it had on me personally. Alas, I can’t help but read my own reviews, as I am new to the literary community and eager to see how my book is being received.  One of the greatest parts of writing is positively impacting other people, and it’s an unbelievable rush to read a review detailing how the book touched someone deeply.  Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is potentially reading a negative review from someone who hated the book and hates me for writing it 🙂  This is a very difficult thing for me because my writing represents a piece of my heart, and a direct line into my soul.  As emo and dramatic as it sounds, rejection of the writing feels like a rejection of the totality of my being.  I learned very quickly to externalize these negative words unless the critique is constructive and includes legitimate examples.  I’m very interested in improving as a writer so hearing the negative things can sometimes be quite useful.  Many things come down to taste and it’s interesting to see how some people love a scene or character and others absolutely abhor it!

4) If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?

Write what you are passionate about.  Write about what moves you to anger or tears or elation, not just what you think people want to read.  Don’t be afraid to show your heart, because that is what readers will connect with.

5) Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Thank you for asking this question!  The answer is YES.  I absolutely love when a book doesn’t necessarily spell everything out for the reader or wrap everything up with a neat bow, so that’s what I wanted to do with Melody’s Key.  There are hundreds of “Easter eggs” and deeper meanings in the story for those willing to look.  For instance, the identity of Simon’s secret lover is not explicitly given, but the clues are there 🙂  Additionally, the intense descriptions within the book are not just my writing style; they are due to Tegan being hypersensory, heavily introverted, hopelessly romantic and slightly obsessive/compulsive.  We are literally inside her brain, experiencing the world through her eyes.  Some people found this to be a wonderful experience, and others found it exhausting 😁  Another interesting aspect is the book does not always rely on traditional “events” to move the plot along – although there is definitely action and drama.  The plot movement primarily revolves around the development and journey of the characters, which takes a bit of patience and intuition to unravel and enjoy.



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