Today it is a massive pleasure to have the amazing debut author Yelena Black with me for an interview. I don't know if you guys have had the chance to read her book, Dance of Shadows, yet, but I really, really recommend it! It's so brilliantly dark and mysterious and suspenseful... If you don't believe me, check out the first few chapters: here. And for even more info, check out Dance of Shadows' Facebook Page, Yelena Black's Twitter and Site. And until then, enjoy the interview - and the book. Plus, the utterly, drop-dead gorgeous cover. I mean, c'mon. Is it not the most beautiful thing ever??
But I digress...
While I was reading Dance of Shadows, I found myself totally in the world of ballet. Did you do ballet - the details were all so amazing that I have to ask!?
Thank you so much! That’s what I was striving for, and I’m so pleased that the details rang true for you. I did ballet for many years when I was younger, though I never pursued it professionally. But it sure gave me good fodder and inspiration!
I loved Dance of Shadows and simply must know what gave you the idea for mixing so many different genres and ideas together? How did you get them to blend together so effortlessly?
I love watching dance performances all throughout the city—especially ballet. I started seeing them when I was a child (starting with The Nutcracker!) and now I go as often as I can. Lincoln Center is (I think) one of the most beautiful parts of Manhattan, and I wanted to set a story in a fictional school modeled after the real school that is housed there. I thought that a story about the world of ballet could be quite compelling. Ballerinas are so disciplined and the world is so competitive … it’s all fodder for great storytelling. After I completed my M.F.A, I knew that I wanted to write for teens. I’ve always loved darker kind of books, mysteries and thrillers and whatnot, and stories that have a bit of a paranormal edge to them. I decided to combine my literary loves with my performance loves and Dance of Shadows was born.
The blending of the various elements took time and many, many rounds of revision J But it was all worth it in the end.
Is the dance you wrote about, the legend of La Danse du Feu, an actual dance myth? If not, how did you come up with that?!
There are many legends in dance that I drew upon. One, The Firebird, is an actual ballet with music by Stravinsky. La Danse du Feu is a melding of a few legends plus my own personal tweaks.
I'm a huge lover of character growth and have to say, I loved watching all of yours develop. Did you always know where they were all going? Who was your favourite? I think I loved Blaine and Steffie most!
Thank you! Blaine and Steffie are a hoot, and I’m so glad you liked them. Blaine especially was always fun to write, and made me laugh constantly to myself. Some of the characters I definitely had specific trajectories for—mainly Vanessa—but others surprised me and developed over the course of the novel in ways I didn’t expect … and thus take on leading roles in the sequel. Justin, for example, and the Fratelli twins, too.
Time for me to be insufferably cheeky and really nosy now, can you give us any hint about what comes next? What will happen in the next book? Does it have a title?
We’re currently figuring out the title for the second book, and I’ m doing revisions on the manuscript. I can’t say too much about it, but I can say that Vanessa continues her search for her older sister along with Justin in Europe. There is a lot dancing, a lot of spooky supernatural moments, and of course … a lot of romance!
Do you have any advice for all the budding authors out there?
Never stop trying. Constantly write new material to help grow as a writer and an artist. Find people who will read your work and believe in you. And don’t take “No” for an answer!
Have any writers inspired you - either to become an author or in what kind of books you like to read and write?
I am a huge fan of children’s books and look to writers like J.K Rowling and Suzanne Collins for inspiration. I absolutely love mysteries and am a huge Stephen King and Donna Tartt fan as well, and most recently I have loved Tana French’s work.
We've just begun 2013 - what book from 2012 did you love the most and which from this year are you most looking forward to?
My favorite teen novel of 2012 was Theo Lawrence’s Mystic City. It’s an alternate history version of Manhattan where magic is real and true love can save the world. It’s a new spin on the Romeo and Juliet story, and full of action and … um … heated love scenes! I really thought it was stellar. I also loved Diva, the conclusion to Jillian Larkin’s The Flappers series, a sexy Gossip Girl-esque series set in the 1920’s which is both hilarious and heartbreaking.
Now, I always like to end interviews on some whimsical questions. If you suddenly discovered you had a fairy godmother who could grant you one wish, what would you wish for?
Probably that I could eat pounds and pounds of chocolate and never gain a pound.
And finally: If you could transport yourself into any fictional world ever created, which would you choose and why?
I would get on the first train to Hogwarts—no doubt about it!
Thank you so much for stopping here, Yelena! It's been great having you and I can't wait for Book Two! :)
Previous Stop on the Dance of Shadows Blog Tour: Daisy Chain Book Reviews
Next Stop on the Dance of Shadows Blog Tour: Serendipity Reviews
Check Out all the Stops: Dance of Shadows Facebook Page
Hope you guys enjoyed the interview! It really is an awesome book and so, so different it's untrue. Happy reading, everyone - I hope you check out and love Dance of Shadows! :D