Interview with Patricia Beal, Author of A Season to Dance

Please describe what the story is about.  

A Season to Dance is the heart wrenching love story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, of the two men who love her and of the forbidden kiss that changed everything.

Share a teaser sentence or two from your novel.

This is for them. This is for the magic. This is for every little dreamer in the room.

What do you want people to know about your book?

A Season to Dance is a journey. From hard to better. From striving to being. A story of love lost and found, broken dreams, and second chances.

What did you learn about yourself while writing this novel?

That I had to find spiritual balance first. Only then could I engage in career and romantic pursuits healthily.

What was your timeline from drafting to publication?

I wrote the first chapter in January of 2011 and wrote a chapter per Saturday until the novel was complete. I spent the rest of the year polishing. Then I spent 2012 getting rejected and 2013 rewriting the whole thing. Then in 2014 I got an agent, and we sold the novel on February 4, 2016.

What is your favorite part of writing (drafting characters, making up scenes, plotting, developing emotional turning points, etc). Why?

My favorite part of writing? Making up scenes. What a power trip, no?

Briefly, where did the idea for your book come from?

Writing a novel was an old dream. It first crossed my mind in 1987, when growing up in Brazil, I read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist. But for years I didn’t have a good idea.

In January of 2011, on I-40 (somewhere between Nashville and Winston-Salem), I had an idea that wouldn’t let go of me. A young woman, a ballerina, stuck on top of a wall for behaving badly.

Then came the questions: Who put her there? What exactly did she do? Why did she do it? Where did he go? Is he coming back?

That’s how it all started.

When do you do your best thinking about your work in progress?

In the morning, when walking, and when on Pinterest ?

Share something people may be surprised to know about you?

In 2014 I was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder.

What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever gotten?

If you have a great novel that’s not selling because of the market, write a different novel. If you have a great novel that’s not selling because the writing is not as mature as it needs to be, keep improving the same novel, or you’ll repeat the same mistakes in the next one.

What’s next?

I wrote a second book, but I’m still editing it. It’s called The Song of the Desert Willow, and it’s a split-time military romance. The contemporary and central part of the novel is the story of a college graduate (Clara) who thought she’d sworn off soldiers forever and of a young Army captain (Andrew) whose first shot at love and marriage imploded on the steps of a West Point chapel on graduation week.

She takes a break from a long and unfruitful job search to travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, to deliver her grandmother’s last love letter, a letter to a retired general Clara has heard about since she was born. When he is delayed in Germany with a weak heart, Clara’s stuck in Texas and Andrew is put in charge of her well-being.

The story has a lot of my grandma’s history in it—life in the German colonies of the south of Brazil before WWII, the beginning of the shoe industry there (still famous worldwide, with women’s shoes always available at stores like Neiman Marcus), the life of the richest family in town, the most influential man (my great grandfather), his death, loss, change. It’s fascinating to me, and I pray I can paint a vivid picture of this most unusual slice of history and get people to care.

If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play them?

The story is a love triangle. “Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Met all figured out until her first love, renowned German dancer Claus Gert, returns to Georgia to win her back. Despite a promising start towards her ballet career and pending marriage to landscape architect, Peter Engberg, Ana wonders if her dreams of dancing at the Met are as impossible as her previous romantic relationship with Claus. Then, an on-stage kiss between Ana and Claus changes everything.”

Peter would be Blake Shelton. Claus would be Mikhail Baryshnikov, a young Mikhail Baryshnikov—I’m thinking late eighties, when the movie White Nights was really popular. And Ana would be me and you. I think there’s a bit of Ana in each of us ❤