Why, Yes, My Names Are Real

Hello! My name is Melody Daggerhart—yes, real name—and I’m a writer, editor, data consultant, and artist who is honored to have been invited to contribute to the Scriptors. I have been weaving tales to entertain people ever since I can remember, and I shall now attempt the amazing feat of cramming everything you need to know about the method to my madness into a few fun facts.

My madness is simple to explain. I may not have the wisdom of the ages, the word-craft of a master, or the good fortune to turn out timeless classics loved by millions, but I know beyond any doubt that my life becomes clearer and more passionate when I write. As for my method … that conversation is a long, juicy, bumpy ride … full of elves and dragons … and vampires and spider webs … and cookies. Lots of cookies.

Five (favorite / influential) authors:

(Only five? Seriously?)

1. Dr. Seuss — because I could never get enough of his whimsical, fantastic worlds when I was a child.

2. Tolkien — because reading The Hobbit at the age of 10 changed my life forever by inspiring me to be a dragon. Okay … writer. No, seriously … dragon. With giant pet spiders … and elves. Lots of elves. One can never have too many elves … or cookies.

3. R.A. Salvatore — because his works were the first dark elf books I’d ever read, and the way he brought to life their beautiful, terrible civilizations left a deep and haunting impression on me, both for the sake of subject matter itself, and for showing how trade fantasy could be so much more than white knights saving princesses from dragons.

4. Anne Rice — because her Vampire Chronicles led me to the epiphany that there is no such thing as a “vampire genre” and taught me to savor the souls of the characters I’m writing about. (Now, class, repeat after me: no such thing as a “vampire genre”. We can discuss it later.)

5. Lovecraft — because his word-craft is so deliciously tangible that he sucks the reader into the fantastic with anticipation for an unusual plot twist in a way that can only be matched by Bradbury or Burgess.

(Oops. Numbers six and seven sneaked in there. Damn you, List Limitations!)
Why I write:

The short answer is it’s fun. The long answer has more to do with the fact that literature is the study of the human condition. It helps me think critically, gives me a creative outlet that helps me cope with reality, and pushes me with a raw honesty that encourages me to rethink life’s challenges. And it’s … fun.

Why I love writing dark fantasy genre:

Dark fantasy is my favourite genre because it combines the imaginative, infinite possibilities of fantasy with the darker mysteries and fears of horror. Dark fantasy gives us fantastic settings, hope of redemption, comedy, and all that fun, positive stuff that general and epic fantasy genres are known for, while also intentionally putting us close enough to the monster’s point of view that we recognize some part of the struggle to tame the beast. It makes us uncomfortable to confront the darker side of human nature, but it’s ultimately more beneficial to acknowledge it exists and to try to understand it before deciding whether or how to slay it. This very real human condition regarding the battle between who is the monster and who is the man is more appealing to me than straightforward idealism … gives me a more meaty bone to chew on while pondering the complexities of life.

First story I ever wrote:

I used to craft books for my stuffed animals. I would take a piece of paper and fold-it-fold-it-fold-it until it was about one or two inches big, then open it up and cut along all those lines. After stapling the pages together, I would use colored pencils and pens to illustrate the covers, write the stories, and illustrate various pages. Yep, publishing and I go WAAAAAY back. But about the time that I advanced to using construction paper for 6″x8″ pages and covers (and designing and editing real yearbooks in high school), I was writing scenarios in study hall and included my friends as characters. What started as a joke to pass the time and entertain my friends, turned into the seed for the novel series I am finally-actually-really publishing all these years later.

Things that inspire me:

Everything I read, watch, play, do, and experience. My inspirations overwhelm me. I never have a problem with writer’s block. On the contrary, I have a hard time knowing how to turn it OFF! I love researching folklore, history, science, and linguistics, so I collect tons of notes and then find myself disappointed when I can’t use them all. But I will say one of my favourite inspirations for character development is gaming. If I’m stuck for how a character might think or act about something, or perhaps I just need more background or feel he/she is too shallow, I will put my novel characters into my role-playing games and use screenshots and notes on gameplay as a storyboard that I can transfer into my own world as events that shaped my characters’ lives. Role-playing games are also one of the best world-building tools you can lay hands on, so my books definitely have an rpg flavor … if you’re into that kind of thing … or not.

My desk:

… is a tall, old-fashioned, dark-wood hutch over a matching desk that locks with an iron key. I keep a handwritten journal on it and a photo of my daughters, but it also shelves my computer and computer games. It houses my gaming books, reference books, and collections of books on vampires, elves, and dark elves. Yes, it houses legal paperwork and office supplies, too. But most importantly it is home to several dragons and gargoyles, a vampire skull, an adorable bat named Lestat, and a squishy spider that is great for … um … squishing. Oh, and Mouse Bob. (Mouse Bob is his own story. Look for him hovering on the left-hand corner of my monitor.) My entire office is filled with fantasy, dark fantasy, Gothic, and steampunk things that inspire my imagination. Mh, maybe that’s why I get inspiration overload … . (The desktop for today, btw, is an example of how gaming inspires my scenes. That is actually the main character of my novel pounding the heck out of a dragon in Skyrim, aaaaand I can promise you it’s very relative to a scene in the up-and-coming novel The Darkling.)

My Dungeon

The vortex where the multiverse blends …

Works in progress:

I am working on completing The Elf Gate Series. This is my first novel series. Volumes one and two are already published: The Changeling and The Fledgling. The third book is titled, The Darkling, and it is currently in the hands of my wonderful beta readers. So I am putting most of my effort right now into doing first revisions for book four: a.k.a. Book Four. (I know. I am such a genius with working titles.) Originally this series was written for five books, but I guess we’ll have to wait and see how that goes based on the revisions.

Ice cream flavor:

Cookie dough. I did warn you cookies were needed for this ride. Although maccha is a close second when it comes to ice cream. (That’s green tea flavoured ice cream, btw. I used to live in Japan, or I’d probably think it was weird, too. But trust me it is soooo good!)

Shenanigans:
Um … O.o … I used to be a librarian. How rad is that? Oh, and I used to work for Wizards of the Coast as a freelance data consultant. My editor was the original editor of the first Dragonlance books, and she made me promise that when I published my own books I would use my real name because she said it was perfect for my chosen genre. So, yes, those names are real. Yoroshikuonegaishimaaaasu./ Nice to meet you. (bow, bow)

Melody Daggerhart
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Melody Daggerhart

Writer, Editor, Data Consultant, Artist at Bad Cat Ink
Melody Daggerhart has been writing and illustrating novels ever since she was old enough to hold crayons and talk to stuffed animals. After pursuing an education in English literature and working in a library and as a freelance consultant, she figures she is ready to share her fanciful tales with more than her statuary, guinea pigs, cats, best friends, and her own captive children. (Hair color is subject to change with writing projects and moods.)
Melody Daggerhart
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