Symposium Coffee's felled tree inspires Sherwood writer's 16th novel
The inspiration for Melanie Dobson's newest book, "Catching the Wind," had its beginnings as the Sherwood author sipped tea and wrote at Symposium Coffee in Old Town.
That's when the weeping cedar out front caught her eye and gave her the impetus for her newest novel.
What she envisioned were two German children "the best of friends - playing high among those branches. In a tree."
Before long, she was penning her 16th novel, "Catching the Wind," a time-slip novel (fiction that uses a plot device where characters seemingly travel through time), published by Tyndale.
"That was my inspiration, that beautiful tree," she said, during a recent interview at Symposium, noting the novel has received a star in a Publishers Weekly and 4½ stars in RT Book Reviews. "This will be my third official time slip (novel)."
She said her newest work almost seemed like a gift, the words coming easier than other novels she's penned over the years.
The story follows Dietmar, 13, and 10-year-old Brigitte, who both must escape the Gestapo agents who have arrested both of their parents.
Set in 1940, her story takes the children to Belgium and eventually England.
"They get to England and they're separated and (Dietmar) gets sent to an internment camp," said Dobson. "His parents perish in the concentration camp and so do her parents."
Then the two are separated.
Fast forward 70 years later where Dietmar, who by now is known as Daniel, is aided on his quest to find Brigitte by an American journalist living in England.
Dobson, who has a journalism degree from Liberty University and a master's degree in communication from Regent University, began seriously writing novels in 1999. But it didn't start off all roses.
Like most writers, "I received rejection after rejection after rejection," she recalled.
However, in 2006, her first novel, "Together for Good" was published. Since then, she has managed to write a novel or two every year.
Now, Dobson has two novels that will soon come out, including "Enchanted Isle," which is set for a November release date.
And she's already working on another, a story about the deep lakes in Austria known as the Devil's Dustbin. The lakes were the source of a massive Nazi dumping ground as they fled the country.
"And my next novel after that, I don't know," she said.
Disciplined in her writing - she writes every day — mostly away from home.
"I do my best writing in coffee shops, (Symposium) being my very favorite place to write," she said.
A Sherwood resident for 10 years, she and her husband Jon, a technology director for The Bible Project, are the parents of two daughters.
For the time-being, she's ready for a break, having written four and a half novels over the past 18 months.
Dobson's new book is available in local book stores, on Amazon and on Kindle devices.
Since her book is about refugees, her publisher is partnering with several organizations to mark June 20, which is World Refugee Day.
Epilogue: That same 47-year-old weeping cedar tree that inspired "Catching the Wind" became the victim of the April 7 windstorm that blew through Sherwood, tearing off several branches, cutting power to Symposium and causing the coffee house to shut down for several days. On April 10, the tree was taken down. Dobson watched it come down from across the street.
"It was very sad," she said. "It inspired my story."