I'm excited to have Stasia Ward Kehoe, author of the fabulous AUDITION (see my review here) which releases on Thursday. Read on to find out more about her own ballet experiences and how AUDITION came to be written in verse.
1. What was your publishing experience like?
My publishing experience was both eternal and super-fast. I’ve actually worked in publishing for years, although always on the educational marketing side. All along, I wrote but I never had the guts to submit stuff in any systematic way. Occasionally, I’d get some interest from an editor or something but it never panned out, largely, I think, because I was kind of a chicken-heart. When I finally got down to it and started submitting Audition, I got an agent and a book deal quite quickly. And here I am. Although this is my novel-writing debut, I’ve been a dancer, actress, playwright, and choreographer. I see a lot of similarities in that I’ve kind of spent my life putting my creative self out there for judgment. Hmmm….
2. In what ways do you relate to your main character Sara? Did you ever dance ballet?
I started dancing ballet when I was four years old. I honestly can’t remember a time when I wasn’t dancing. And, I grew up in the country. So, in those ways I am like Sara. Happily (as I’ve been stressing to my dad!), I did not get involved in complicated relationships with choreographers! As a teen, I didn’t drink or stay out late or do anything very interesting. Well, I mean, I started a theater company and did some interesting things creatively but I was the absolute opposite of a party animal.
3. High school is a tough time for many teenagers. What advice would you give to your sixteen year old self if you could go back in time?
If you can believe it, I think I would have told my teenage self to take more risks. For me, “I have to dance” was kind of an excuse not to learn to ski (which I now, as an adult, love) or participate in many school activities—things like that. So, I think if I could go back in time and advise my teenage self, I’d tell her to live a little!
4. Why did you decide to write AUDITION in verse? Was it harder or easier than you expected?
Writing Audition in verse wasn’t really a decision as much as an evolution. Sara began as the character for a monologue assignment in a playwriting class. From there, I wrote a short prose story called Audition, which got some interest and I decided to explore more about Sara’s life. For quite a while, I wasn’t happy with the way the novel was going. Luckily, I had the great fortune to hear Ellen Hopkins speak at a writing conference. After taking her workshop, and reading a LOT of verse novels, it slowly became clear that Audition needed to be written in verse. It was challenging, but I wanted to try to capture the fluidity of ballet through the lyrical use of words.
5. What's next for you writing wise?
I have a really hard time talking about works-in-progress (you should ask my critique group members about this!) because I never really feel sure about how something is going until I write “the end” on the last page of a manuscript. And I am very superstitious! So, I guess I’ll just say that I love writing about the arts and will continue to explore ideas about character, performance, and creativity in my novels.
Thanks so much, Stasia, for stopping by! Everyone, be sure to check out her newest release on Thursday. It's definitely not a book to be missed!