About the Author
Dina Sleiman writes stories of passion and grace. Most of the time you will find this Virginia Beach resident reading, biking, dancing, or hanging out with her husband and three children, preferably at the oceanfront. Check out her novels Dance from Deep Within, Dance of the Dandelion, and Love in Three-Quarter Time, and look for her Valiant Hearts adventure/romance books, Dauntless and Chivalrous, with Bethany House Publishers
1. Your first book in the Valiant Hearts Series , Dauntless, had a Robin Hood inspiration. What legend inspired Chivalrous?
Chivalrous relates in many ways with Arthurian legends, particularly Sir Lancelot. It takes place in a fictional dukedom in Northern England which strives to live by Arthurian ideals, including a round table type of government. It is a story of tournaments, chivalry, and courtly love with a surprising twist on the Lancelot and Guinevere story.
2. Sounds like you’ve taken this story in a whole new direction. In what ways does it relate to Dauntless?
This story follows everyone’s favorite character from Dauntless, Allen, who will soon be dubbed Sir Allen of Ellsworth. Allen is the guy who didn’t get the girl in book one, but he takes off for North Britannia in search of his rightful place in the world, and I’m guessing he just might stumble across love once he gets there. This story also relates to the Valiant Hearts Series as a whole by bringing in a new spunky heroine who has secretly trained to be a knight.
3. Tell us a little bit more about your main characters in Chivalrous.
Allen stands out immediately because of his deep connection with God, but he is also struggling with his identity. He was raised to be a peasant farmer but has been given many opportunities to advance in the world, and he isn’t sure of his new role. As is often the case with people so close to God, the weakness he deals with is pride, and although it is subtle, it has the potential to destroy everything.
Gwendolyn longs to be a knight like her chivalrous brothers, but her domineering father sees her as nothing more than a marriage pawn. He is determined to see her wed to a brutish man who will break her spirit. She is unsure how she even feels about a God who would create her—as she sees it—a second-rate female when she would rather be a knight. And boy does she have a temper. But Gwendolyn also has a softer side. She loves dance and music and children. She will have a long way to go to find her true identity.
4. What do you hope your readers will take away from Chivalrous?
This book deals with what it means to be a woman of valor. Because of Gwendolyn’s situation, she must struggle to discover a woman’s true role in both the family and society. She has seen her mother abused into a shell of herself, and does not want that to be her fate. Both Gwendolyn and Allen end up dealing with unjust authorities, and must learn to balance godly submission with the importance of taking charge of one’s own decisions. To borrow a modern phrase, they must learn how to establish healthy boundaries. A message of God turning all things for good for those who love Him comes shining through the story. And as in all of my books, the importance of having an intimate relationship with God and learning to hear His voice is stressed.
5. What can we expect next from the Valiant Hearts Series?
Book 3, Courageous, will be coming out next summer. It will follow the story of Gwendolyn’s lady’s maid from Chivalrous. Rosalind of Ipsworth is haunted by a tragic mistake, but a crusade to the Holy Land just might offer her the chance to earn her redemption. Inspired by the vision of the Young Lady Sapphira, Rosalind joins a group of men, women, and children as a defender of the cross. She will gladly give herself to the cause of Christ, as she believes she no longer deserves such joys as normal life, marriage, and family might bring.
Sir Randel Penigree was reared for a life in the church and a tonsured scalp, but his own desire is to fight and protect the innocent as a knight. After a stunning defeat, his parents issue an ultimatum: join the church or be disowned. A crusade to the Holy Land will offer him the opportunity to find the famed Knights Templar and become a warrior monk, finally merging his parents’ wishes with his own.
As they work together to train and protect a group of young adolescents, their hearts begin to heal, and Randel and Rosalind find themselves undeniably drawn to one another. When they face political machinations, danger, and an unknown enemy bent on their destruction, they are forced to reconsider their priorities, and the very nature of the God they serve.
Author Dina Sleiman’s Matchmaking Quiz
Do your reading interests match author Dina Sleiman’s writing specialties? Take her match making quiz and find out.
Every writer is unique. We all have our own strengths and focuses. And we have other areas that just aren't our specialties. Much like finding the right spouse, I think it's important for writers to find the right readers who appreciate their books and what they have to offer, rather than trying to please everyone, which is pretty much impossible. I've been paying a lot of attention to my reviews lately, and trying to pin down my precise audience. So who is the Dina Sleiman audience and who should probably just stay away from my books? Let me try to explain with this match making quiz.
Do you like only one category of fiction or a broad variety? If you are very faithful to a specific category like romance or suspense, you might feel that certain elements are lacking from my books or that the pacing is not quite what you expected. But if you a have broad interests, you will be delighted to find many of your favorite ingredients mixed together in a lovely potpourri throughout my books. My Valiant Hearts novels include a heaping helping of romance, a good bit of action, dashes of suspense and humor, and even coming of age elements--all set against a historical backdrop. But don't necessarily expect my heroes and heroines to meet in chapter one, or the suspense to kick off from the very first scene. Be ready for a new adventure.
Are you looking for fantasy or historical fiction? While I enjoy fantasy books for the most part, they include way too much plot and action for me, and really, I don't quite understand the genre. My Valiant Hearts books are historical. They are set in real times and real countries, although often fictional towns. They have elements that might appeal to fantasy readers, like medieval settings and adventure, but if you're specifically looking for fantasy books, that's not what I write. On the other hand, I have a fanciful imagination and my books are more focused on the story and fictional elements than the historical account itself. While I try to be as historically accurate as possible, I use history as a backdrop, not as a primary subject.
Do you like romance and happy endings? If you hate romance and roll your eyes at it and find it gaggy, don't waste your time on my books. Or if you want to shield your kids from romance for some reason, then pick a different author. While I don't consider myself a classic romance writer, I love romance, and I include it in all of my novels. I'll let you in on a little secret, the first Valiant Hearts book was originally written as a romance novel and then expanded to bring in a more epic adventure feel. There is a good bit of romance at the heart of everything I write. If you want a book that's dark and depressing and will leave you filled with angst, don't bother with my books. They are full of hope, light, and redemption. I'll be the first to admit, I'm a happy ending girl.
Do you read for plot alone or do you enjoy the more relational and artistic elements of fiction? If you read mostly for plot and tend to skip over lovely descriptions, long conversations, and inner monologues, you might not like my books very much. In fact, you might feel a little lost, because that's where a lot of the good stuff happens. If thoughts of characters, inner journeys, and beautiful language make you tingle, then I am the author for you. If you care as much about what is going on inside a character and appreciate a dash of psychology, philosophy, and deep spirituality, then prepare to be thrilled.
Are you looking for religion or spirituality? When it comes to spiritual threads, I like to go deep. My books will challenge you to experience Christ on a very personal level. They are not just clean books about good morals. They examine hard questions and real life problems, and explore how a very active and present God can make Himself known to you in those places. If you want a squeaky clean, goody-goody book that is G-rated and more sanitized than the Bible itself, please look elsewhere. If you think that God gave us Jesus and the Bible and then left us to our own devices for the next 2000 years, no longer speaking to us or moving in miraculous ways, don't waste your time on my books. Unless of course you are interested in learning and growing and being challenged with new ideas. Then by all means, I welcome you to try them.
Are you willing to read a book geared toward older teen girls and young adult women? My new Valiant Hearts books should appeal to ages 12 through adult, but my goal has always been to write to older teens and younger women. I think you will find that all of my books resonate with that group. And I intend to keep them as my primary audience and focus my books towards their needs and interests. These books are not for elementary kids, and as I've mentioned, they do include romance and some grittier topics. I certainly don't mean to offend anyone, but I'm not going to apologize for tailoring my books to my target audience. And while I'm sure many boys and men could enjoy the Valiant Hearts series, they are more geared toward females.
Do you like heroines who are both strong and feminine? If you are looking for wilting maidens and damsels in distress saved by shining knights who swoop in on their giant horses, look elsewhere. The personalities of these Valiant Hearts heroines will vary from book to book, but some of them are pretty tough, and all of them are courageous and able and willing to rise to whatever challenges they might face. The guys aren't weak--these girls deserve strong men of good character--but the girls are pretty much their equals in every way. The theme of the series is "Be Strong and Courageous," and I stand by that theme. If female empowerment bugs you, if you would rather read about women staying home and quilting and cooking and being demure, you have been fairly warned. On the other hand, if you are looking for women trying to act like men and deny their God-given feminine traits, you won't find them in my books either. I want to show young women that they can be both strong and feminine at the same time.
That's me and my writing. What do you think? Are we a match made in heaven? If so, be sure to check out my Valiant Hearts books.
Dauntless, Valiant Hearts Book 1 – Where legend and history collide, one young woman will fight for the innocent.
Chivalrous, Valiant Hearts Book 2 – With her future in jeopardy, this unforgettable heroine won’t go down without a fight.
Dina Sleiman and Her Heroines by Dina Sleiman
Often readers confuse an author with the characters they create. I imagine the truth is that each character we write has a hint of us inside of them. But it is also true that professional novelists go to great lengths to create unique and separate characters with distinctive personalities. So today I’m going to share with you how I am both similar to and different from some of my female heroines.
Let’s start with the general idea of these tough Valiant Hearts heroines. I’ve always been strong, healthy, and athletic, but not quite a tough sporty girl. During my school years I did play some sports, mostly because I went to small Christian schools and everyone needed to be involved. I was pretty good at basketball, but always preferred dance, gymnastics, and cheerleading. As an adult, I like quiet physical activities like walking, biking, hiking, and canoeing. I still dance from time to time as part of my church’s worship dance team. But…I believe in female empowerment and that women should follow whatever path God lays on their hearts. I don’t like to see arbitrary limits put on what girls can and can’t do, and that was very important to me as I wrote this Valiant Hearts Series. My Meyer’s Briggs personality type is INFJ, which in addition to being creative, is also very individualistic and idealistic.
My Robin Hood-esque Merry Ellison from Dauntless and I actually have very little in common. On the Meyers Briggs scale, Merry was my opposite on three out of four indicators. She is more extroverted, sensory, and thinking. This made Merry the most challenging character I’ve ever written, yet I loved and admired her. Her ENTJ personality was the same as my middle child, my outdoor enthusiast and adrenaline junky. It’s a great leadership personality. I often thought of tough sporty girls I’ve been friends with over the years while writing Merry. Merry and I have a few things in common like a love of children and a love of acrobatics, but even her motivations and inner thoughts were often different than mine. I do have a tomboy side, but it does not go as far as weaponry and hunting. In addition to all of that, tiny, dark haired, exotic Merry is pretty much my physical opposite in every way too.
Chivalrous with my female knight is releasing soon, and I certainly have more in common with Gwendolyn Barnes than with Merry. I was picturing Gwendolyn as a INFP/ISFP hybrid. Gwendolyn hates mingling at a big party, much like me, and
she loves music, dance, and sunshine, again like me. Her biggest flaw is that she tends to fade into a fantasy world rather than deal with reality, which is something I have been guilty of from time to time, but not to the same degree as Gwendolyn. She has more of a temper than I do, although I share her abhorrence of injustice and can get pretty riled up when faced with it. And again, she is tougher than me, although I think if I had been raised with her hang ups, I might have turned out even more like her. Finally, Gwendolyn’s tall, blonde, and curvy physical description is pretty darn close to mine at that age. At 5’10” I’m used to looking men in the eye and feeling like I can do anything they can.
Next on the horizon is Courageous with my crusader heroine. It won’t release until July 2016, but you will be introduced to its main character heroine in Chivalrous. Rosalind of Ipsworth is Gwendolyn’s lady’s maid, best friend, and partner in crime. Of the three Valiant Hearts heroines so far, I definitely have the most in common with Rosalind. With her ENFJ personality, she is more of a typical emotional, romantic girl, although she is tough enough to rise to whatever occasion is thrown at her. She’s more outgoing than me, and she makes some unfortunate choices that my upbringing protected me from. But her thoughts, speech, and motivations are pretty similar to what I imagine mine being in those circumstances. And Rosalind is a passionate woman, which is also a trait I share.
Passion is a characteristic that is often avoided in Christian heroines, and yet a characteristic I think God highly values when channeled in the right direction. In fact, I’ve used the ENFJ personality for two other heroines in the past. Both Dandelion in Dance of the Dandelion and Constance in Love in Three-Quarter Time are feisty, passionate heroines as well. Each makes mistakes, like Rosalind, but each learns to channel that passion toward an intimate relationship with God. My daughter has an ENFJ personality, and I have loved watching her grow in her passion toward God.
Maybe you’re wondering if I’ve ever written myself into a book. I would say the closest I’ve come is with Allie, my Christian ballerina in Dance from Deep Within. She shares my INFJ personality, my love of dance and reading, my blonde coloring, and many of my experiences. Her thoughts, tastes, opinions, fashion sensibilities, and beliefs certainly mirror mine, especially when I was her age. But of course her life is different than mine in some ways too, and her experiences are more extreme, including a trauma I didn’t share. Still, I would say if you want to know what I’m all about, Allie would provide the best clues.
So that’s me and my heroines. I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick foray into our personalities.
Which of my heroines do you think you would relate with the most? What is your personality like?
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