Interview with Melinda R. Cordell, Author of Dragon’s Inferno
03 Nov 2020
What can you tell us about your new release, Dragon’s Inferno?
It’s the second book in the Dragonriders of Fiorenza series. A new character comes into play – Neva, who was Fia’s closest friend years ago before her family was driven out of the city and exiled for supporting the Sienese army. Fia comes back into Neva’s life by crashing her dragon into Neva’s bean field while being pursued by the Pope’s army. Now Neva’s trying to hide Fia from the authorities, while trying to hide a secret from Neva – that Neva’s people are the ones who kidnapped Fia’s father and are holding him captive. Neva’s also an enchantress, which in medieval Italy could get her burned at the stake. It’s a book full of magic, dragons, and there at the end of the book we have the biggest dragon race you ever saw, and it’s glorious.
What or who inspired you to become an author?
It’s been so long ago that I can’t remember. I just started writing these little bitty stories in first grade, and when I was in third grade I was folding pieces of notebook paper, stapling one side, then cutting out the pages so I could make books out of them. Writing books was just always something I loved doing.
What’s on your top 5 list for the best books you’ve ever read?
Top 5, Classics Edition: Dante’s Commedia; To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf; The Odyssey, Homer (Emily Wilson’s translation is very good); Truman, David McCullough; and I’m leaving the last spot blank for the book I remember next week and think “THAT’S the one I should have put on this list!”
Top 5, Fantasy Edition: So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane; the entire Earthsea series by Ursula K. Le Guin; Sabriel by Garth Nix; everything that Nnedi Okorafor has ever written, and I mean everything; and The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty.
Say you’re the host of a literary talk show. Who would be your first guest? What would you want to ask?
I’d like to bring back Ursula K. Le Guin just because I want to talk to her and I never did.
What’s your favorite thing about writing?
I like having written. Writing new stuff is kind of hard sometimes, and often I’m just throwing words at the wall to see what sticks – or that’s what it feels like. Then I have to come back in later and clean it all up and figure out what the heck the characters were thinking and feeling, and then I look around and see if I can bring in a little conflict and add some funny bits – and after a while I have something decent, and then I’m like “Oh! Okay, that’s better” and then I feel better about myself and the world. But it takes a while. As my daughter says, it’s a process.
What is a typical day like for you?
I work full time as a proofreader for a cattle organization, but at the moment we’re working from home, so I work in the kitchen and my 8-year-old kid is doing second grade stuff as a virtual learner nearby. It’s kind of chaotic sometimes. I do the bulk of my writing at night when I’m falling asleep. I have this little Alphasmart Neo, which is a simple digital keyboard they made for schoolkids back in the day. It runs on three AA batteries and if you pop open the back, its CPU is a DragonBall Z 32-bit processor. You can’t play DragonBall Z on the Neo – all you can do on it is write. I write as I’m falling asleep, or when I’m waking up, or at random times in the day. Then I upload this messy writing stuff to my computer, clean it up, and that’s part of my word count. It’s crazy but it works.
Mine cost $25 with shipping and handling. Don’t pay a whole lot of money for one – watch for them on Ebay and you can generally find a nice, low-price model.
What scene from Dragon’s Inferno was your favorite to write?
I always like writing the scenes where Fia’s interacting with her dragon, Ryelleth. Those two are such a good team, and they love each other so much. Ryelleth is a lot of fun to write about.
Do you have a motto, quote, or philosophy you live by?
It’s your world so live in it!
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