Author Interview : Dallas Coryell

Dallas Coryell is the author of Melody's Key, a musical contemporary romance novel. You can read my review here. Also a musician, he has wonderfully woven music into his novel which adds to the richness of the romance! 

Today he's here at the blog talking about writing, making music and answering some fun questions!

You’re a musician and an author. Did you always know you were going to be both or did you plan one and the other just happened?

I probably knew about the writing part first.  I penned my first “novella” in 5th grade entitled “King Arthur and the Gnome King”.  Being obsessed with the story of King Arthur, naturally, I wanted to combine it with my love of evil monsters.  I mostly enjoyed taking readers to another world.  My dad said it was great ;) 

I didn't start doing music until I was 19 while in college.  I began playing guitar for the reason most young men impress women, of course.  When I realized I could use it as a form of self-therapy I started writing original music and the rest is history.

Music plays a huge role in ‘Melody’s Key’. If you were to choose two songs that would describe the book perfectly, what would they be?

Aside from the songs I specifically wrote for the book I would probably choose All of the Stars by Ed Sheeran and Paper Thin by Astrid S.  The lyrics, emotions and themes in these songs perfectly mirror those in the book and I listened to them on repeat while writing.  Two other amazing songs in my writing playlist for the book were Falling For You and Medicine, both by The 1975.

Which was the first book you read that made you emotional?

I read John Green, Suzanne Collins and Stephanie Meyer in preparation for writing Melody’s Key, since I had never read a YA or romance book before.  The Fault In Our Stars was the first book I ever read that actually made me cry.  It kind of took me by surprise because I'm not normally an outwardly emotional person.  I probably just lost my man-card for admitting that.
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. Selfies and other assorted randomness can be found on the author’s Instagram

Is any character in ‘Melody’s Key’ based on yourself or the people you know?

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.


Was it hard or easy to bring together two forms of expression – music and writing?

Melody's Key was a blending of the two main mediums I use to express myself creatively, so when the idea popped into my head it seemed completely natural.  The writing itself is meant to feel like music or poetry, representing how Tegan sees the world in beautiful romanticized terms.  Many of the songs I was writing at the time dealt with finding a soul-mate and continuing to hope despite painful things in my past, which is essentially what the book is about.

Tegan Lockwood’s dreams were dead, sacrificed on the noble altar of duty before they ever had a chance to live. Her entire existence was disappearing into the abyss of apathy as she labored her days away keeping her family’s struggling business alive. There would be no emotion, no color, no beauty in her life. That is, until a mysterious visitor begins to draw her out of the darkness of her past towards something that will challenge the boundaries of her world, and unlock the most deeply held secrets of her heart.

If ‘Melody’s Kiss’ got turned into a movie, who would you cast as the leads?

This is a really tough (but fun) question.  For authenticity I would probably lean towards casting actual musicians so they could perform the songs.  For Tegan I would cast UK singer-songwriter Gabrielle Aplin.  She has the vocal and piano chops to easily be able to pull off the role.  She also has a bit of a strong-but-vulnerable-moody-artsy vibe that would be essential to bringing the character to life.  A close second would be Hannah Reid from London Grammar for many of the same reasons.  

For Mason I would likely cast American crooner Sam Hunt.  He has the sensitive-strong vibe going on and also has the tall/dark/fit look that Tegan kind of obsesses over in the book.  Sam is a bit older than both Gabrielle and Hannah which fits with the 7ish year age gap that is hinted at in the book.

What is the one advice you’d give to aspiring authors?

You will go through so many emotions while writing, not the least of which will be staggering self-doubt.  Keep going.  I believe one of the biggest keys to any type of creative activity is to project your passion.  Write something that has great personal meaning, not necessarily something you believe will be popular or well received.  The most powerful art comes from genuine emotion being felt by the artist.
    “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.