You’ll never know what will inspire an author to write a book. Melanie Dickerson’s new book, The Beautiful Pretender, is inspired by something that might surprise you. Here’s a little bit about the book.
The Margrave of Thornbeck has to find a bride, fast. He invites ten noble born ladies who meet the king’s approval to be his guests at Thornbeck Castle for two weeks, a time to test these ladies and reveal their true character.
Avelina has only two instructions: keep her true identity a secret and make sure the margrave doesn’t select her as his bride. Since the latter seems unlikely, she concentrates on not getting caught. No one must know she is merely a maidservant, sent by the Earl of Plimmwald to stand in for his daughter, Dorothea.
Despite Avelina’s best attempts at diverting attention from herself, the margrave has taken notice. And try as she might, she can’t deny her own growing feelings. But something else is afoot in the castle. Something sinister that could have far worse—far deadlier—consequences.
Sounds like a great book!
- Which stories did you use as inspiration for your book?
For The Beautiful Pretender, I was inspired by Beauty and the Beast and Princess and the Pea.
- Why did you choose to use these ones? Do you have a particular love for any of them?
I really love Beauty and the Beast. It’s my favorite fairy tale, and even though I’d already done a Beauty and the Beast retelling, I had always thought I could write lots of Beauty and the Beast retellings and no two would be the same. It’s such a great framework for a romance and provides lots of possibilities. I knew I wanted the margrave from The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest to have his own story, and I also knew he’d make a great “beastly” character. And since I was doing a series of “mash-ups,” I decided to throw Princess and the Pea into the mix. It was feasible that the king would want the margrave to marry someone who would help draw the different regions together, and since a Princess and the Pea story would require the hero to “test” possible brides, it seemed the perfect fit. And since I don’t especially like the idea of a prince choosing his bride based on something as silly and inane as being able to feel a pea under her mattress, I changed that part of it.
- What is the theme of the stories?
One of the obvious themes of Beauty and the Beast is that you can’t judge a person by their appearance, because a person’s heart—kindness and goodness—is more attractive than their outward beauty. With Princess and the Pea, I guess the theme is that you can try to fool other people into thinking you’re something you’re not, but you’ll eventually be found out. In my story, the heroine discovers that she’s just as worthy as an earl’s daughter, even though she’s only a servant.
- Your agent didn’t like the idea of a “beastly” hero at a scary castle in a forest. Do agents have a lot of input into what their authors write?
I originally sent Natasha the idea I had for a Beauty and the Beast retelling, for which I wrote about a chapter. She just wanted me to come up with an idea that was a little more original, I think, to push me to come up with the best proposal for a new series. So I set it aside and brainstormed some more and came up with the idea for The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest, a mash-up of Robin Hood and Swan Lake. It wasn’t really that she didn’t like the idea of a beastly hero, since she’s told me my specialty is wounded heroes. But she is great at bringing out the best in me. I wouldn’t say she has “a lot” of input in what I write, but an agent’s job is to help shape an author’s career, to help them make the most of their talent. Natasha takes this aspect of her job very seriously.
- Is there going to be a third book in the series?
Yes, I’ve just finished writing it. It’s called The Noble Servant and is about Avelina’s friend, Magdalen, and a duke she danced with at the ball in The Beautiful Pretender. It’s a Prince and the Pauper *slash* Goose Girl story, as the duke gets ousted from his position by his look-alike cousin and evil uncle, and Magdalen gets usurped by her maidservant, who forces her to switch places with her. Magdalen and the duke, Steffan, have to join forces to get their lives back—and fall in love in the process, of course.
Melanie Dickerson is the author of The Healer s Apprentice, a Christy Award finalist and winner of the National Reader s Choice Award for Best First Book. Melanie earned a bachelor s degree in special education from the University of Alabama and has been a teacher and a missionary. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Huntsville, Alabama. Visit her online at www.melaniedickerson.com Facebook: MelanieDickersonBooks and Twitter @melanieauthor
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Thanks for visiting with us, Melanie! It’s been a pleasure to have you.