First I want to give a big shout out to my friend, Shannon O'Donnell. CONGRATS! SHE HAS AN AGENT! She just signed with Terrie Wolf of AKA Literary LLC. She queried Terrie after seeing Casey's spotlight of Terrie. I'm so excited for Shannon! Go congratulate her here.
Today I’m so excited to be a part of Stasia Ward Kehoe’s blog tour for her debut YA book AUDITION that was released on October 13, 2011. I’m going to confess something. I’ve never read a book in verse before and I was a little scared about whether I’d be able to read and enjoy one. I was so surprised at how fast a read Stasia’s book was and I loved entering the world of ballet. I could relate to a lot of the sacrifices Sara made for her dream as I watch my own daughter competitively swim. I think a lot of kids will relate to this too.
Here’s a description of AUDITION from Goodreads:
When high school junior Sara wins a coveted scholarship to study ballet, she must sacrifice everything for her new life as a professional dancer-in-training. Living in a strange city with a host family, she's deeply lonely-until she falls into the arms of Remington, a choreographer in his early twenties. At first, she loves being Rem's muse, but as she discovers a surprising passion for writing, she begins to question whether she's chosen the right path. Is Rem using her, or is it the other way around? And is dancing still her dream, or does she need something more? This debut novel in verse is as intense and romantic as it is eloquent.
Hi Stasia. Thanks so much for joining us.
1. I’ve read that you danced as a kid, in college, and had a job at the Kennedy Center. Wow! How did your own dancing experiences influence the plot of AUDITION and Sara’s self-doubts about her path?
While the performing arts have always been a part of my life, I think I was usually a much happier, more strong-willed dancer than Sara. Still, from experience I know that dance offers great things, like the glory of the discipline, the joy of collaborating with other artists, and the thrill of performance. There are also tough things, including a livelihood dependent on your physical abilities and, like high-level musicians and athletes, the fact that you must forgo other opportunities to reach your goals. I certainly wanted to show both positives and negatives of Sara’s experience. Also, I struggled with shin splints, which are a kind of constant reminder of how vulnerable your body can be. I gave those to Sara, too!
2. I think a lot of kids who aren’t dancers can relate to some of this, like the giving up of opportunities to play a sport in high school and the injuries associated with it. Sara’s relationship with Rem is different than many YA romances that are love at first hot sight. Tell us a bit about their relationship and how you decided to plot it the way you did.
Because she is a country girl coming to the high-level city ballet scene a bit late, Sara is trapped between the younger students with whom she is technically on par, and the older dancers who are her chronological peers. I wanted to establish this before introducing Remington because I think he is very much a part of her uncertainty about wanting to grow up at all and how that is tied to her ballet dreams. Being attached to Rem also means being attached to a kind of dance success which Sara deeply wants.
3. You did a good job showing her as the country girl often with the younger students. As I read AUDITION, I was struck how you made every word count. What are some of the challenges in writing in verse?
With each poem, I asked myself, “Does this have to be written this way?” “Do the metaphors work?” “What would happen if I wrote this in prose?” For me, the verse form is a process of repeated questioning, lots of revision, and having the courage to scrap pages and try again.
4. You worked at Random House Children’s Publishing and Simon & Shuster Children’s Publishing. Tell us about these experiences and how they’re influencing your marketing decisions, if at all.
Like the performing art of dance, the literary art of publishing is very subjective and whimsical. Coming to the author side of it after years supporting other writers, that I know I’ve got to have a thick skin. More importantly, I have truly come to believe that the best thing you can do for your own book and the entire industry is to encourage and support other writers.
5. I bet those connections are invaluable. And yes, it is so important that we support each other. That’s one of the things I enjoy most about blogging. You were part of an awesome vlog about collective book promotion and marketing at WriteOnCon this year. (You can listen to the vlog here. ). Tell us about Stages and Pages and share some of your tips on collective book promotion and marketing.
Stages on Pages is an opportunity not just to talk about my own book but to explore and celebrate novels about the arts in a broader way. The tour consists of twelve authors. Appearing together is less scary and it gives us opportunities to create presentations that are more conversational and, hopefully, fun for audiences. The biggest tip I’d give to others about collective promotion is to make sure you have an organizing principle that excites everyone involved.
Thanks Stasia for all your advice. Good luck with your book. You can visit Stasia on her website and her blog.
Stasia’s publisher generously offered an ARC for a giveaway. All you need to do is be a follower (just click the follow button if you’re not a follower) and leave a comment by midnight on November 5th. I’ll announce the winner on November 7th. If your e-mail is not on Blogger, please list it in your comment. International entries are welcome.
If you mention this contest on your blog, Twitter, or Facebook, please let me know in the comments and I’ll give you an extra entry.
And don't forget to enter my giveaways to win a copy of DARKFALL by Janice Hardy and CROSSED by Ally Condie. Links are at the top of the blog.
Here’s what’s coming up. Next Monday, I’m interviewing another debut author Anna Staniszewski and giving away a copy of MY VERY UN FAIRY TAIL LIFE. And on November 7th, I’m interviewing Adam Jay Epstein and Andrew Jacobson and giving away a copy of THE FAMILIARS SECRETS OF THE CROWN. I’ll let you know about the rest of November later.
Hope to see you next Monday!