Day 54 of 84 Days of 84 Ribbons: Author Q&A #2
More answers to common question about me. 84 Ribbons and writing. Feel free to send your questions at any time.
Was it difficult to jump from writing non fiction (Educating America) to writing ballet-themed fiction?
Not really. I read mostly fiction and I love the world of ballet. Since I used to dance, I thought it would be fun to visit that first love (from age 3) and build the world of a young professional dancer. Marta came to me one evening with her life and her story outlined. The novel grew from her early conversations with me in my head but I didn’t know I’d be giving her many of the issues that build up throughout the story. Creating problems for someone you like, even if the person is fictitious, can be difficult to write. No one wants their friends to feel pain or loss.
Non fiction is easier in many ways. I have facts and data to organize in an interesting and informative way. Fiction involves a different type of organization and gives me a chance to use my imagination. And, at this point, Marta has more to say in When the Music Stops.
Are any of the characters in 84 Ribbons based on real people in your life?
Somewhat. Character development is interesting. I found myself thinking about positive trails in my family and friends and used them as reference points as I wrote. For example, Marta’s mother is a compilation of my mom, my mother-in-law and a friend. Together they are creative women who do it all: sew, bake, raise a garden, have careers and care intensely about their families. Marta’s dad is my dad. He was inventive like Jonas Selbryth and shared his gentleness with the world. We spent time together skipping rocks, hiking in the Olympic and Cascade mountains of Washington and listened to classical music together.
As for the secondary characters, I let my imagination run wild. I picked through events and situations in my life, my insecurities and strengths, friends and freminies manipulating things and mingling them with things I may have wished I’d said but didn’t. That’s remains one of my secrets.
What surprised you most when you wrote about Marta and her friends?
I think is was the point where I discovered that writing and dancing blended in my life and that they share several traits. Both require practice and perseverance as well as a good sense of movement and a desire to share a deep yearning for self-expression. Both challenge my view of reality as well: Marta and Lynne, her ballet friend, are both small town girls competing with dancers of privilege for coveted positions in a professional ballet company. Their personalities are bits and pieces of my own with qualities I wished I’d had at their age. Of course, many facets are fictitious as you’ve probably guessed and were added to create controversy and problems like all stories require.
What’s the best writing advice you’ve received?
Write every day knowing you’ll need to toss out a lot of what you write. That’s hard because I come to think of what I write as being good writing. But, when I go back and review it or ask for a critique, it becomes obvious that I have only scratched the surface and must add depth to make the scene more interesting.