Day 65 of 84 Days of 84 Ribbons: Q&A #3
1. Do you see yourself in any of the characters in 84 Ribbons?
Bits and pieces of me are in what I write. I share a love of family time, ballet and trips to the mountains as my protagonist, Marta, loves as well. For a while I was like her in that I used our family’s garage for practicing since we had no car until I was ten years old. I also danced around in the family living room and performed for myself and the gold gilt mirror.
I see Lynne, Marta’s best friend as my alter ego. She’s able to speak her mind and she lets problems roll off her most of the time. I invented Lynne to lighten Marta (and me). Luckily I have such friends in my life as well. I’m anxious to write Lynne’s story in the third book, Letters to Follow. Should be more of a romp than 84 Ribbons.
2. Are any of the Intermountain Ballet Company dancers based on real people?
Yes. Miss Holland and Damien Black pay tribute to my dance teacher Margie Speck who was a wonderful, caring, creative and supportive instructor. Madame Cosper represents the long ago dictatorial ballet directors thrown into the mix to add conflict and controversy. All three will make appearance in book two, When the Music Stops.
Bartley is included in the story to share insight into a dancer who comes to the ballet company from privilege. She also represents the dancer who will do anything to stay thin and competitive.
3. You’ve dealt with competition, injury and anorexia in 84 Ribbons as concerns in the 1950s. Have things changed since then?
Yes and no. Dancers always engage in competition for roles and moving up to positions as soloists and principal dancers. It keeps them coming back day after day and week after week. In some ways, it elevates the art form.
Dancers battle injury on a daily basis. Today they receive more education on how to prevent injury and have physical therapists and doctors who work with them. More is known about how the body works so more is shared on how to protect from and prevent injury. Nevertheless, injuries are a constant worry for dancers.
Health issues and eating disorders are addressed early on these days. If you read Dance magazine you’ll find monthly articles on health and wellness. Education is the key to strong, healthy dancers.
4. What were the most difficult scenes to write?
Any scenes where I created problems for Marta and her friends. A writer begins to think of the characters in a book as ‘real’. It’s difficult to cause your ‘real friends’ problems but that’s what add interest. In Marta’s story I’m trying to discover her physical, mental and tenacity and that requires putting her to tests and watching how she reacts as she reaches for her dream.
That’s it for today. I invite you to send me additional questions at any time.