Author Interview

Author Spotlight- Dallas Coryell

Let the record clearly state, I’m not one to willingly pick up what I deem a romance novel. Two main reasons-

  1. Being the hopeless romantic that I am, and having been let down, it makes me upset. I’m upset that the days of chivalry are finished, and the hopes of it being restored are faltering.
  2. Whenever I do open myself up to reading a romance novel, it leaves me completely wrecked. I made that mistake reading “Me Before You” and then decided it was a phenomenal idea to watch the movie. . .terrible idea really.

While there is absolutely nothing wrong with romance novels, they do have the potential to make readers feel emotions that may not surface too much- essentially, I feel as though a romance novel done right has the power to just make us “feel” again. “Melody’s Key” hit all the feels for me. It was entirely [too] easy to relate to, and the pace of the book kept you going.

To be honest, I’m not sure which I enjoyed more; reading the book, or reading over Dallas’ answers to my interview questions. It’s bad enough he had me nerding out over “Melody’s Key”, but when I read through his answers, I knew I found a fellow nerd. Without making you read my ramblings any longer, I hope you enjoy getting to know Dallas Coryell. And if anyone has any further questions, please feel free to post a question!

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What inspired you to write “Melody’s Key“?

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Ever since I can remember, I’ve been quite a romantic person; even back to my kindergarten days where I dared to kiss my crush’s cheek while eating snacks on the number circle.  However, several years ago I had just emerged from a particularly grueling period in my personal life that made me doubt the existence of love.  Part of the process of rebuilding my heart involved the decision to not let the romantic piece of my heart stay dead.  Thus, Melody’s Key became my resurrection project.  Writing the story where two broken people learn to love again, despite their fear of letting someone close, was extremely therapeutic for me.  It put me back in touch with all the things I thought were permanently gone, and gave me a picture of hope for the future.  My sincere wish is for others to read the book and find hope that their soul-mate is out there.

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Does your book contain personal experiences?

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It does!  Although the plot is almost completely anecdotal, there are many life and love lessons I included that were derived from my own experience.  Some of the witty (read: NERDY) dialogue are actual things I’ve said to girls, so when people say guys would never talk like that I just laugh, because yes…the nerdy ones who think they’re funnier than they are certainly DO talk like that.  Well, at least one does anyway.  More important to the central themes of the book are the two concepts of hope as a decision and loving someone for who they are, imperfections and all, without expecting them to be someone they’re not.  These are two of the most important concepts I’ve learned in my life.

Hope, or rather a picture of something better in the future, is at the center of happiness and motivation in humans IMO.  The funny thing about hope is that it doesn’t take evidence or proof, just a decision.  It cannot be taken away from you unless you allow it.  This is so key because it converts you from a victim of your circumstances and past, into the person with the power to shape your future.  This realization is what brings Tegan out of the darkness of her past; she decides to stop letting the past victimize her over and over, and chooses to believe there are beautiful things in the world worth risking your heart for.

Additionally, when we say we love someone, but put conditions of change on that person to receive it, then it is not real love.  I have been on both sides of this phenomenon and it inevitably leads to misery for both people.  Time is needed to truly learn who the person is.  This ensures you are falling for the “real them”, and not just your idea of them–a concept they likely cannot live up to.  Time and communication are the only things that will reveal if you have the capability to love the other person in the way they need to be loved and visa versa.  Unfortunately, it is usually deep into a relationship before people even ask this question.
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Out of all the characters in the book, who can you relate to the most?
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This may sound a bit cliche, but there are pieces of myself in almost every character.  Tegan is hypersensory and sees the world in vivid romantic detail (hence the intense descriptions), which is something I have always experienced.  She aches to share it with someone, but has been hurt, and so has resigned herself to being alone.  Mason and I share a fondness for strong, independent, slightly emotionally unavailable musicians that we can “save” by filling them with love.  Although, he is WAY cooler than I’ll ever be 😉  Simon and Ryleigh are masters of double entendre, dirty jokes and pop culture references, as are my friends and I when we go to the pub 😉  Tegan’s parents share some of the lessons I’ve learned about people and love, which help Tegan on her journey to heal and let Mason into her heart.
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Is there a real Tegan?
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Yes and No.  To create Tegan’s character I spent a ton of time interviewing female friends and family about their thoughts, opinions, emotions, etc.  As a male author it was extremely important to me that Tegan have an authentically feminine voice, and not simply one I made up from scratch–which would likely have come across as hollow or rote.  To my surprise and pleasure I found that each woman was beautifully and maddeningly unique, each dealing with life’s challenges a bit differently.  So I kind of cobbled them together, added a touch of my celebrity crush, and Tegan’s character was born.  She is not a real person per se, but her heart beats with the voices of many real women who have dealt with the same issues she was working through in the book.

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Could you tell readers about any upcoming projects?

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I want to share SO MUCH about what I’m working on, but creativity requires secrecy in its infancy.  I can say that I have several book projects started including: a paranormal romance (no vampires or werewolves), a time travel romance, a scifi romance, a psychological thriller, a near-future-technology-based crime drama, and a fantasy series that involves wizardry, warriors, magic and monsters.  Now all I need is the time to finish them!
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Which author(s) have been most influential to you? And why?
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CS Lewis, Lloyd Alexander and Troy Denning are the authors that really stoked the fires of passion when it came to reading as a youth.  Michael Crichton and Steven King drew me into the world of “grown up” books (I read Rising Sun after reading Jurassic Park thinking it would be similar…whoops!).  I would have to say that John Green, Stephanie Meyer and Suzanne Collins are most responsible for me sitting down to write a book of my own.  And YES I liked Twilight…shaddap.  😉
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What is your best advice for budding authors?
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Write what you know.  I think too many people get caught up in writing what they think will be appealing to the biggest audience and they end up having no voice.  Write what stirs your passion.  Write what makes you angry and write what makes you cry.  Authenticity is what will connect your audience with your writing.
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What are you top book recommendations?
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I am a HUGE fan of the Song of Ice and Fire, as well as The Hyperion Cantos.  Although, to enjoy these novels you must have patience.  Both authors lean heavily toward the verbose end of the spectrum and their story-lines develop slowly, but have massive payouts if you stick with it.
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What is/are your most anticipated read of 2017?
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When A Court of Wings and Ruin (Sarah J. Maas) comes out I’m planning on binging through the entire series like a madman.  I will be unavailable on May 2nd 🙂
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Dallas Coryell. . . you are not alone on May 2nd! In fact, depending on Ms. Maas’ book tour schedule, I will be headed out to one of the locations to get my book signed. . .anyone else planning on going?!

Next time you are contemplating your next read, do me a favor. Instead of going for that predictable Nicholas Sparks book [and let’s face it, I KNOW you’ve already seen the movie!] pick up an unknown author trying to make their mark. Mr. Coryell, you did not disappoint. And even though you didn’t delve into any details about upcoming projects, they sound promising, and you can absolutely count on me for a review at anytime.

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