Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Blog tour(interview): The Strength of Ballerinas by Nancy Lorenz

Book details:
Title: The Strength of Ballerinas
Author: Nancy Lorenz
Publisher: Cedar Fort
Comes out in September, 2014
Genre: YA contemporary

Dad bent down to my eye level. There were tears in his eyes too.
"I know it's a shock, honey, but we have to do it. You can find another ballet school out in the Napa Valley."
"There is no other ballet school!" The entire apartment building on West 79th Street probably heard me, but my voice rose up anyway. "I go to the Manhattan Dance Company!"

All Kendra has ever wanted to do is dance. But when her father's job takes their family from the city lights of Manhattan to the quiet Napa Valley in California, Kendra's dreams are shattered.

Still determined to dance, she tries to adjust to her new life until a debilitating diagnosis threatens to change everything. Now Kendra must decide which dreams are really worth fighting for.

Step onto the dance floor and into Kendra's heart in this poignant and compelling story. Written by former dancer Nancy Lorenz, this is a debut novel you won't want to put down.


My stop in The Strength of Ballerinas blog tour is an interview with Nancy Lorenz.  

Me: What experience of yours relates to a scene in your book?

Nancy: Well, I also made the move from New York to California, and found it hard to find a good dance school.  Since i moved years ago, many good dance schools have opened, and I’ve since found a great ballet school which I still attend.

Me: Where would a person find you usually?
Nancy: Writing and researching on my laptop. I not only write, but I’m also a teacher, so I do a lot of school paperwork, and grading, online.  My main chunk of time though, is devoted to writing.  I am editing other YA books, and a women’s fiction book club type novel.  I am always writing!
Me: How did your life as a writer begin?
Nancy: This is an interesting story.  I got an article published when I was twelve!  It was a paragaph actually for a magazine of the time called, Young Miss.  They sent me a check for twenty-five dollars.  I was so exited!  I couldn’t wait for the magazine to be delivered to my house.  I had a subscription, but now I was chomping at the bit to see my own article in print.  The problem was that my article on “washing the dishes” never appeared!  Every month I was disappointed when I looked in vain at page after page.   Where was my article?  After a year of  waiting, I finally gave up hope.  I had a twenty-fve dollar check as the only proof that the publishing company bought my piece.
Years later, I was working in New York at Harper & Row, Publishers (now Harper Collins)  in the Marketing and Publicitiy department.  I had access to publishers addresses and telephones, and I suddenly wondered if I should call the editors of Young Miss magazine.  I did.  When I called the editor, she said, “I’m so glad that you called.  We just put your article in the magazine for this month.”  Imagine my surprise when twelve years later, I saw my article in print in the current issue.  The editor sent me two copies of the magazine, which I have to this very day.  I was paid for the article when I was twelve, and it was published when I was twenty-five -  twelve years later.  Now, why did I make the call that day?  Was it fate?  
Since that time, I have been writing.  I started with scriptwriting, but then changed to writing fiction.  I’ve belonged to a writer critique group for four years, and have attended the Writer’s Digest Conference in New York to pitch my stories; however, I sent my ballerina story to Cedar Fort Books, and they published it.  I felt a little like Jo March in the Louisa  May Alcott’s Little Women.  It was my first novel to be published.  I had to wait a long time between my twelve year old self and my adult writing self, but it is a journey that continues...
Me: How did you come up with the idea for your current story?
Nancy: A lot of the story is borne out of my own experience.  I also had obstacles to becoming a professional ballerina (although they were not medical like Kendra’s in the story).  Like Kendra, I made a cross country move, although I was married by then.  I didn’t have a brother with autism; however, I know that it’s hard for families to allocate money for every child in all their endeavors, even if they are well.  I had siblings too, but back then, kids usually did only one extracurricular acivity.  Now, kids do multiples activites, such as piano and dance.  For example, if big sister is a ballerina, but little sister is on the traveling softball team, and child number three wants to figure skate, it can get very expensive for parents!  Throw in a child with special needs, and it makes life more difficult financially.  That’s why I thought of Petey, the little brother. The father is torn between money, resources, and time beause of Petey’s syndrome.  Anything in a family affects all members, and it affects character, Kendra as well with money for her dance training. 
As for ballet, I took many of the ideas and scenes in the book from previous classes I had taken at a number of schools, composites of dancers, and great longing to become a company member.  We all aspire, but very few make it to the top, due to geographical proximity, injury, ability, as well as financial and emptional support from parents, who need to pay, drive to practices and rehearsals... 
All in all, my “self” is throughout the novel, in many ways that Kendars acts, thinks, dreams.  We all need to step away once in a while, lie down and look up at the ceiling and just dream.  Dreamtime, I call it.  Many of the dreams of millions of girls are in this book, including my own.
Me: The best book I’ve ever read.
Nancy: Well, it’s a three way tie.  For the classic reads, I love Jane Eyre  by Charlotte Bronte, and Pride and Prejudice, by Jane Austen.  For modern days novels, I love To Kill a Mockingbrd by Harper Lee.
Me: What's the last book you bought? Have you read it yet?
Nancy: I bought The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, and it’s been sitting there half unread, due to the work I’ve been putting in on my own book for marketing and promotion.   Love the book though, and will get back to it as soon as possible.  I am trying to do the Goodreads challenge of a book a week, but fell a little behind.  Before that I read The Fault in Our Stars, and If I Stay  – other good ones!   Will be back to Mr. Zusak’s novel soon
Me: Who is the one author that you would love to meet someday and why?
          Nancy: I’d love to meet Shakespeare!  He wrote about the human condition and all of the emotions  
we read about in modern YA novels today.  We all want to fall in love, like Romeo and Juliet; we feel great indecision as we grow up sometimes just like Hamlet, we play jokes or fool people, as in Twelfth Nght, or want forgiveness in the world, as in The Merchant of Venice. Jealosy, rage, joy – it’s all there within his plays.  I studied Shakespeare in college, and he was actually not as stuffy, as we portray him;  he was a regular guy who met his friends to share a meal, and wrote at home. The only difference is the archaic language  and his genius, but if you can read between those archaic lines, you will find the stuff of YA and more!
Me: Five deserts that make your mouth water.

    1. Chocolate! Chocolate!  Chocolate!  Chocolate! Chocolate!   
    2. O.K. – the real list.....!
1.     chocolate ice cream
2.     chocolate cake
3.     apple pie a la mode (vanilla or chocolate ice cream)
4.     chocolate cheesecake
5.     Mocha Frappochino with an extra pump got it - chocolate
Me: What's the most complicated meal you've ever cooked? 
Nancy:Gourmandines de Veau au Gratin S.S. France..  I started gourmet cooking when I was in New York.  I taught myself through cookbooks of famous chefs.  This recipe from Craig Claibornes’s book, Veal Cookery has a recipe that called for veal, which has since become politically inorrect – the baby calves!  So, now I make it with chicken instead, and it is just as good.  It is complicated because you have to make white sauces –a cream sauce with the meat for the inside filling of the crepe, and Mornay sauce drizzled over the top.  The crepes, I made from scratch.  Today, they have crepe-makers – Darn!  I had to make the Mornay sauce from scratch too.  It was a process to put the whole thing together.  I added Carrots Vichy (carrots sauteed in butter to brown) and new potatoes roasted, in quarters brushed wth butter. 
Hmmmm.  I have to make this again soon......!
Me: What do you carry in your purse/pockets?
       Nancy: Everything! From makeup to first aid, from wallet to coupons and perfume and barrettes, mints, chocolate, cell phone, keys, a thousand pens, old printouts of driving directions, past movie ticket stubs, and other clutter.   Bought a smaller bag to keep out the clutter.  It didn’t work.  I need to buy a bigger bag again, to stuff in all my “can’t live withouts!” or sentimental keepsakes.

Nancy Lorenz can usually be found here:

Web Site:

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