A word weaver, a crafter of worlds, and a deviser of plots — these are terms that can describe author Rebekah Dodson, but she prefers the title of writer. Why? Writers craft the symbols of the alphabet into a communication of beauty and ideas.
Hello, my name is Rebekah Dodson, and I hail from the very southern tip of Oregon, in the wild, wild west. I moved to a small town here because I needed out of the big city. I love living in Oregon, especially out where everyone knows my name. My husband of 16 years is a disabled veteran and stay at home dad to two teenagers, who often require more work than toddlers. I have three dogs: a German Shepherd named Max, a heeler named Coulson, and a Chihuahua named Princess. She’s kinda the boss of the whole troop and gets her brothers into trouble all the time. I am a professor at a local college, teaching writing, English, and college survival strategies. In my spare time, I play the piano, read fantasy novels, play Dungeons and Dragons, and of course, write!
When and why did you begin writing?
I originally started writing when I was 12. I was home schooled and my co-op teacher gave me the option of writing a short story instead of an essay for a history assignment. She told me to write 5,000 words and I did it in a day! My short story, a romance based in the Civil War time period, “Lilly Love and Billy Dove”, was eventually published with the 4H Clubs of America and went on to win several awards. I put that aside for a long time to pursue my college education in psychology. My true writing career, however, didn’t happen until 2014. I met a man in college who was also a “secret writer” and we started swapping fantasy stories. He really inspired me to keep weaving stories and telling tall tales. It’s been eight years since we met, and we are now both teachers and writers.
When did you first consider yourself a writer?
The first day I considered myself a writer was when I published my novel series, Postcards from Paris, with Deckard Publishing, on March 3, 2014. A friend in my graduate program encouraged me to keep writing no matter what and raved over my work. He designed my covers, edited, and published me. But more importantly, he never stopped encouraging me to share my work with the world. When I saw my first book go live, that was the day I knew I could do this forever.
Can you share a little about your current book with us?
Although most of my novels are romance, I’ve finally released a sci-fi fantasy novel, Mirrors: The Curse of Lanval Book 1. This time-travel story is rich in medieval scenery and features a main character who is a snarky, witty paramedic and college student. He’s full of himself and thinks he’s God’s gift to women – until he meets his match in a medieval queen.
What inspired you to write this book?
I’ve always been obsessed with history since a young age. I started this story about a year ago when I began to wonder what would happen if a college student – with their often lofty, preconceived notions about how the world works – would fare in the past. Most of the inspiration came from observing my students. The story truly came to life when I met my teaching assistant in September 2016, a paramedic and college student himself. He started feeding me ideas and specific medical information. In a frenzy, the story was finished and polished in about three months.
Do you have a specific writing style?
My specific writing style involves scenery and dialogue. In grad school, Hemingway’s abstract dialogue inspired me to craft characters who share witty conversations that tend to “dance” around issues. Like the hidden agenda in “Hills like White Elephants” my dialogue usually doesn’t address issues specifically but plays more of a word game. I’m also very into describing weather, scenes, rooms, and buildings. I want to immerse my readers in locale as much as possible.
How did you come up with the title of this book?
My main characters, Gill and his sister Jules, touch a magic mirror they find in a chapel in France when they travel there for their dear uncle’s funeral. Much more than an artifact, it’s a running theme throughout the series: Gill looks in the mirror often, because of his prideful nature. A spellcaster in the series uses Mirror Image to confuse their foes. Finally, Gill realizes that the mirror is turned on him when he sees himself for who he truly is.
The series is also called The Curse of Lanval, based on the medieval author, Marie de France, who wrote a lais (poem) in the 12th century called “Lanval”. This story is about a knight that King Arthur forgot, and even though he seems cursed and bad things happen to him, he is eventually rewarded for being honest, true, and devoted. For this reason, I gave Gill the surname of Lanval, because he’s a lot like this knight: not what he seems, but good of heart in the end.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Absolutely! Don’t ever judge a person by how they act. They might seem arrogant and foolish, but underneath they are usually insecure and frightened to show the world their weaknesses. All the characters in this series are a bit two-faced at times, but they don’t mean to be. In the real world, we all have our public face and the one we show those close to us. Just because you see someone’s public face in the mirror, doesn’t mean that’s who they really are.
Are experiences in this book based on someone you know or events in your own life?
Some of Gill’s college experiences are based on mine, and observations from where I teach. For example, when Gill trips in the hallway and meets a girl he’s attracted to, this actually happened to me in college. I married the man 18 months later.
What authors have most influenced your life? What about them do you find inspiring?
The main author to inspire me is J.R.R. Tolkien. I read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings series at a young age, and I always wanted to create a world like he did. I’m still working on it, but I do enjoy the adventures that he painted that will stick with me for a lifetime. I also enjoy Terry Goodkind’s Sword of Truth series. The dynamics of adventure, fantasy, and romance between Richard and Khalan kept me reading the entire series on the edge of my seat. I love his writing style!
If you had to choose, is there a writer would you consider a mentor? Why?
Not really a mentor, but my writer friend (mentioned above from college days) is who I refer to as my muse. It doesn’t matter if I need help with romance or fantasy or even horror, I can call him and say “Help me!” and he will always answer. His answer is usually, “Did you add dragons?” He is the greatest assistant to my work and I wouldn’t be here today without him.
Who designed the cover of your book? Why did you select this illustrator?
C.L. Cannon at Fiction Atlas Author Services designed my cover. I actually selected her in the beginning because she had affordable services. She also edited Mirrors as well and is working on a book trailer for the series. I was so impressed with her enthusiasm to find what Gill really looked like, and she was great at seeing my vision. She also captured Marie, the character in book 2, perfectly. I’ve hired her permanently for the rest of the books in the series.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Everyone always says keep writing, but really, the key is to keep publishing. Go with a publishing house or self-publish, but don’t wait around! Get it out there! Even if you have to design your own cover and edit yourself, because you can’t afford either. DO NOT WAIT. I waited two years for my publisher to put out more of my books, thinking I couldn’t do it by myself, and in the meantime, I wrote 25 novels (yes, you read that right!). I started self-publishing in October of 2016 and currently have ten on the market and a huge fan base. Don’t ever wait around to take control of your destiny. Do it NOW.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Whether it’s my book or someone else’s, please value your indie/self-publish community by reading our books and leaving reviews. We work hard to give you the best novel we can, and a little bit of our heart and soul is poured into each book. Show the love back whenever you can and pay it forward.
MIRRORS: The Curse of Lanval Book I
Cover Design: C.L. Cannon