I’m really excited to be doing this author spotlight. Melinda Cordell was gracious answer some questions as well.
I am all over the map.
This is me with my laptop and a baby chick.
I have a lot of interests, and write books about a number of them. I hope you don’t mind.
I’ve written books since I was a little girl. I used to make books in Mrs. Roger’s third-grade class, when I’d fold a piece of paper into a 2-inch square, staple one side, then cut the pages apart and write the story and draw the pictures. Then Mrs. Rogers would say, “Mindy, get back to work!” and I would quickly put my book away and get back to my math lesson. I’m still not much good in math.
I got my bachelor’s degree in Horticulture, then earned my Master’s in Writing for Children from Hamline University, where I worked with some great writers, including Gary Schmidt, Marsha Chall, Jane Resh Thomas, and Mary Logue. My fiction and articles have appeared in Cricket, Highlights, and The Horn Book, as well as Organic Gardening, Birds and Blooms, and Grit.
I’m a former horticulturist turned proofreader, a chicken wrangler, small-time naturalist. If I were a bird I would probably be a nuthatch. No specific reason, I just really get a kick out of nuthatches.
Interview with Melinda Cordell
What was the inspiration behind the Dragonriders of Skala series?
Well, Pauline and I met each other in a little collaboration group. Pauline said, “I have some cool book covers with Vikings and dragons on them,” and I said, “Oo, shiny!” I’m a dragon fan anyway, so that was a no-brainer. However, I knew next to nothing about Vikings, so I jumped into the research. Now, I’d just written a nonfiction book about women soldiers in the Civil War, and I’d always been interested in military strategy, and war stories. When I was reading about Vikings, I read about a burial mound from Birka, Sweden that was of a female military commander who was buried with high military honors, from all the things that were buried with her. She had a hnefatafl, or a King’s Table, game buried with her. It’s a strategic game that’s something like chess. I wanted to write a story about that woman on the battlefield and how she might have gotten her start as a military commander. So … I did.
What was it like co-writing a series with another author?
Actually, Pauline picked up the tab for the covers and formatting and editing and advertising, and I just wrote the books. Then we both promote the books to our readers. She’s a dandy, and very good to work with.
What is your favorite part of the writing process? Least favorite?
My favorite part of the writing process is having written! though I love coming up with cool stuff for my readers. My least favorite part is when I get stuck and my brain starts flailing around like it’s walked into a spiderweb.
Is writing a hobby or a career for you?
You bet it’s a career. It’s what I’ve done all my life. I started reading when I was four years old and was writing shortly thereafter. I’ve sent out books since 1995, but finally went over to self-publishing in 2016 and have been going like a house afire ever since.
What do you do when you’re feeling uninspired?
Oh, there’s a bunch of complaining, but I keep writing, because you know these books aren’t going to write themselves. God knows I’ve tried! But they just sit there, not writing themselves, and it’s very vexing. But you can’t wait for inspiration, you know. You have to make your own luck, in life and in writing.
Is there a story you’ve written that you’re most proud of?
Butterfly Chaos. It was my creative thesis for my MFAC for writing for children at Hamline University. It’s a constellation of a number of tragedies in my community and my family, as well as all the things I love about my family. Plus ghosts, and four epic tornadoes.
Who is your biggest supporter?
My husband Brad, and my kids, Sophie and Stevie. They are my whole world.
What is something unique your readers might not know about you?
I used to be a city horticulturist for the St. Joseph (Mo.) Parks and Rec Department, and had entire charge of a crapload of city gardens, plus a rose garden with 300 roses in it. Man I loved those roses. Naturally, I have a series of gardening books out as well.
Also I played sousaphone in college in marching band. That was a blast, and we got to do a halftime show at a Kansas City Chiefs game at Arrowhead Stadium. That was amazing.
You’re a new addition to a crayon box. What color would you be and why?
Cerulean. It’s my favorite color.
Do you have any advice for new writers?
I’ve been trying to get traditionally published for decades. I’ve gotten very close many, many times, but never close enough to actually make a sale. I was able to hold up for most of that time, but in about my 20th year, I really lost a lot of faith in myself and my abilities. I knew I was a hotshot; I knew I was good, but after a thousand rejections, I started wondering if I was completely wrong, and then I couldn’t write, which was miserable. Then I got into self-publishing, where I was in control, where I called the shots, where people read and enjoyed my books — and I took off like a rocket.
Long story short, you have to find a place where you can bloom. Traditional publishing didn’t want me. Indie publishing gave me that place. But don’t let anybody kill your hopes. Keep fighting for your work. Your words do matter.
In the flame of battle, even the innocent get burned…
Dyrfinna is a born commander. She bests her peers in dragon riding, sword fighting, and battle strategy. So when the Queen calls the people of Skala to battle to revenge her murdered daughter, Dyrfinna outfits a ship and brings a crew.
Once in the field, Dyrfinna leads her troops to victory in a series of hard-fought battles against overwhelming odds. Yet a commander is raised over her, and because of his clumsy leadership, a great disaster results in the massacre of a quarter of the Queen’s army. Then the commander unfairly blames a second disaster on Dyrfinna. The wrong stroke of her sword could undo everything she’s ever worked for, earn her the fury of her friends … and exile to certain death.
But you can’t keep a true warrior down. When things are darkest, a flame rises out of the desolation.
When war and betrayal are a part of life, death consumes like fire.
The Viking world is torn apart by warfare, and there is no rest for the weary. Barely recovered from surviving her exile, Dyrfinna lands in the enemy’s camp. The king has stolen her sister, captured her allies, and turned one of her closest friends against her.
But that’s the least of Dyrfinna’s worries. A greater foe has risen up, a magician who desecrates the bones of dragons to gain power for herself and raise an army of zombie dragons from the dead—an army of unbelievable power. To overcome this new threat, Dyrfinna must steal her crew out of captivity and sail them into their most costly battle yet.
Only one being has the answers they need, but can the Vikings trust the word of a dragon who wants them dead?
The explosive third book in the Dragonriders of Skala series.
The undead roam the world of the Vikings—an unstoppable army led by the vicious Nauma, who rides upon the dragon corpse she raised from the blood of slaughtered soldiers. And Dyrfinna hunts her with the help of her fiery emberdragon, willing to do anything in her power to stop Nauma and send all those old heroes back into the earth where they belong. Dyrfinna must call upon both friend and enemy to join forces with her to stop Nauma from awakening an ancient, stronger power to come to her aid or her magical powers will cause even greater devastation.
Kingdoms and lives hang in the balance. A crown of roses and a crown of fire wait for those who survive this battle.
From a whisper of smoke … to an apocalypse of fire.
Skeggi has been raising his brothers ever since their parents died last year. One respite from his never-ending work is the time he spends with his sword-friends, learning to fight and fly dragons. But during battle-practice on dragonback, Skeggi accidentally stumbles upon an invasion force of Danes preparing to attack his city, and all hell breaks loose.
As the city prepares for war, Skeggi and his friends are sent on a mission to bring back the Queen’s daughter. The sword-friends run into the forest on a perilous journey. Not only must they rescue the Queen’s daughter, but they must escape the wrath of the Dane’s commander, Iron Skull, one of the most dangerous men of Viking legend. The sword-friends have found someone that Iron Skull considers more valuable than gold—his thrall girl. And now he is hunting them to get her back.
The sword-friends are going to be hard-pressed to get back to Skala … if they even survive the journey.
These books are FANTASTIC, I highly recommend checking them out! Follow Melinda, and check out her other work.
A Whisper of Smoke is on sale for $.99 today!