To be honest, it’s not every day I get the opportunity to interview a male romance author. So when Dallas Coryell contacted me, I jumped at the chance to find out more about the handsome, young songwriter who has written a touching, contemporary romance.
NLK: Melody’s Key is a romance. What inspired you to write romance? Do you think male writers bring a different perspective to the romance genre?
DC: I love this question because it gets to the heart of the book. I was going through an extremely difficult time in my life, and Melody’s Key was my attempt to save the parts of me that believes in love and destiny. I decided I wasn’t going to let the terrible things in the world drown out the wonderful things. Large pieces of my heart are included within the story, in the hope that others will be inspired to continue believing their soulmate is out there.
NLK: Melody’s Key is your debut novel. What are you currently working on? Will you write another romance?
DC: Love is the most powerful force in the universe. In my opinion, stories that feature this element are infinitely more interesting. I’m working on five stand-alone books and one series, and all of them feature a love story at their core. The subject matter ranges from sci-fi to psychological thriller to paranormal to time travel to fantasy and magic. Hopefully, there will be much more to come!
NLK: You’re a singer/songwriter who plays acoustic guitar, how does music affect your writing and vice versa?
DC: It is no coincidence that story and music are intimately intertwined in Melody’s Key. Both of them are creative outlets for me and direct windows into my soul. The story represents the human need to connect with someone on a spiritual level, and the characters do that through music. Tegan’s voice awakens Mason’s heart and hearing his passion come through music, does the same for her.
NLK: What’s the biggest obstacle in your writing?
DC: For better or worse, I’m the type of person who puts my heart and soul into everything I write. On one level, this is good because it creates something genuine that people can connect to. On the other hand, when people dislike the story it feels like they are rejecting me as a person. It is especially hard if the person took something in a way it was not intended. I’m working on not taking criticism so hard, because even though it may be difficult if it is constructive, I think it can be very helpful.
NLK: What have you learnt from self-publishing? What would you do differently next time?
DC: Self-publishing has definitely been an eye-opening experience! It has (and continues to be) a lot of work, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I believe that anything worth having is difficult to attain. When I finally finished writing Melody’s Key I had no idea that getting people to read it would be MUCH more difficult and just as time-consuming as writing it. People have very little free time in our busy world, so convincing them to spend a precious morsel of it on your novel can be quite challenging. I think being organized, sincere, and unflappable are the keys to success. I haven’t achieved any success yet, so I’ll get back to you on whether this works out 😉 I have definitely learned that certain things should be farmed out to professionals, such as the book cover. For me, the cover was almost an afterthought…and people can tell. It showed my lack of experience that this aspect was not more thought out, as the cover is what attracts people to look closer. Without a compelling “face” most people just skip right over.
Another important aspect is editing. At the last minute, my normal editor was not able to take on the project, which left me in a very difficult position. Mistakes were made, and things were missed. Subsequent novels will certainly utilize professionals in this area, and will hopefully remove a few of the “fixable” barriers to people discovering and enjoying my writing. Overall, I’m very glad I went ahead with the self-publishing route, as opposed to waiting for validation from the traditional publishing industry. I was able to tell the story I wanted and put it directly into the hands of readers, which is every artist’s dream.
NLK: Do you have a role model? Who is your favourite musician? Favourite author?
DC: My role models are my parents, who unfortunately passed away unexpectedly a few years ago. I didn’t realize it when I was younger, but they are responsible for every part of me that I hold most dear. They gave me everything they had and sacrificed in ways I didn’t see until I was older. They were also both writers, which explains why I may have headed in that direction as well.
My musical tastes are as varied as grains of sand on a beach, but a few that have inspired me recently are Aurora, Julien Baker, PVRIS, Ben Howard and The 1975. My favorite song is Name by the Goo Goo Dolls–it perfectly encapsulates the beautiful and tragic melancholy of my youth. I am aware of how dramatic and emo that explanation was 🙂
I’m not sure if I can pick a favorite author! Lloyd Alexander, C.S. Lewis, and Troy Denning are probably most responsible for my love of reading, and Dan Simmons, Stephanie Meyer (yes, I like Twilight) and John Green are most responsible for me deciding to write books.
(NLK butts in here: I loved Twilight! Don’t distract me with thoughts of Edward…)
NLK: What are your ambitions?
DC: I struggle with what I want to do with the time I’ve been given. Normal jobs always seem like a tragic waste of life, although I have learned that having money to pay rent is very important 😁. While I definitely don’t need to be rich, being able to write full-time (and still survive financially) would be ideal. I feel like I was made to tell stories that evoke emotion and inspire people. It would be my dream to impact people’s lives on a large scale through music and writing.
Excerpt from Melody’s Key:
“It’s just an expression, I assume you have those in America?” This time Tegan completely intended the playful sarcasm that dripped from the comment. She even ventured a slight grin to put him on the defensive a little, but Mason was quick with his reply. “Yes, we have them. For example, don’t judge a book by its cover.” Mason had smiled disarmingly when he said it, but the underlying message to her was clear. Considering what happened at the pub, perhaps she had been a tad hasty in her judgment of his character. Tegan bundled the tools she had been cleaning and attempted to pick them up all at once in order to move them into the shed, but before she could take two steps they began slipping from her hands. Just as she expected to see the entire bunch go crashing to the ground, Mason’s hands appeared and encircled hers, stabilizing the load. His hands were strong, but soft, and their sudden steadying warmth took her completely off guard. She had been careful to avoid looking directly at him during their entire exchange so far, but her discipline wavered for one instant and she allowed herself to meet his gaze. She immediately regretted it. His eyes were two fiery emeralds that seemed to have already been waiting millennia for her to find them. The depth they held was something she had not expected; there was profound suffering there, but also something wild and passionate and unbridled…like the feeling she got while walking through the estate gardens after a summer storm. Somehow his eyes burned through the walls of her meticulously constructed defenses as if they were flash paper. She felt as though he was somehow seeing her…the real her, instead of the protective façade she normally projected to people she didn’t know. In that instant of unexpected vulnerability Tegan was surprised to find she was capable of anything. She felt the boundaries and inhibitions that normally constrained her fading like a winter sunset. A moment after Tegan felt the hurricane begin to stir within her, she smothered it for fear of being consumed. Where in the world is this coming from? She had only been looking at him for a moment, but it felt as though they had been staring at each other for hours. She abruptly pulled her hands free, which sent the tools clattering loudly into the dirt. In truth, she had forgotten they were suspended between their interlocked hands. Grateful for the distraction, she kneeled down and began gathering the fallen load, which he immediately assisted her with. Between them, they got all the tools to the shed in one trip. As the electricity of the moment faded, Tegan began feeling silly for even thinking such ridiculous things. I know nothing about him. She made a mental note not to look into his eyes again. There was a reason so many girls went crazy over him, and he probably knew exactly what he was doing with those eyes…and that crooked smile.
About Dallas Coryell
Dallas Coryell is a musician and author residing deep in the untamed wilds of Michigan, USA, where he desperately attempts to assign meaning to his world through bouts of maniacal creative catharsis and pitifully doomed hopeless romantic fantasies. All of the songs written by the characters in this novel are real and can be viewed on the author’s fledgling YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/user/DallasCoryell1