I'm super excited to read this book! The cover is gorgeous and I've met this sweet, classy author in person! Please welcome Patricia Beal . . .
Thank you so much for visiting us today here at the CCC blog! Can you tell us about your latest release and what inspired you to write the story?
Thanks for having me here! A Season to Dance is my debut novel. It’s the story of a small town professional ballerina who dreams of dancing at the Met in New York, the two men who love her, and the forbidden kiss that changed everything. But it’s more than big dreams and dreamy suitors. It’s about a young woman trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with misguided career and romantic pursuits.
What inspired me? A good idea. 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 novel idea worth developing. In January of 2011, on I-40 (somewhere between Nashville and Winston-Salem), I had a good idea. It was one scene, but it was enough. I wrote a chapter every Saturday and finished the first draft before the end of the year. Polishing it was much harder and took a lot longer.
Of all your characters in this story, which one did you enjoy writing the most and why?
Ana Brassfield, because we journeyed together. I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, and for most of my life I believed there had to be some kind of god out there and that being a good person was important. But in the summer of 2012, an early version of the novel was rejected in three different continents on the same week. I was tired and lonely, and I freaked out. I decided the notion of a loving god was absurd. There was no loving god, if there was a god at all.
Self-gratification became the chief end of my existence, and I looked behind every door for happiness and satisfaction. I didn't find anything worth keeping though, and at the end of every new pursuit, I was still tired and lonely—and this time surrounded by a darkness and a hopelessness that was brand new and incredibly scary.
Then Jesus passed by, and where I saw the end, He saw the beginning. He fought for me, lifted me out of what had quickly become a murky and joyless existence, and brought me into His perfect light. I was born again in January of 2013, and soon after that, I realized the novel wasn’t complete. I cancelled a trip to a third secular writers’ conference and started a 14-month rewrite. This book, A Season to Dance, is the book that wrote me.
If you could cast your characters in a Hollywood adaptation of your book, who would play them?
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.
How did you decide on the setting/location for this novel?
I wrote most of the novel while we were stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, so the story begins in that area (chapter 2 does—I have an in medias res opening). My husband is a retired infantryman. The theater is the theater where I was dancing at the time as a member of the Columbus Ballet, and Callaway Gardens was less than an hour away—I visited it often. When the story travels to Germany, I used Wiesbaden as the main setting because it’s a big city and I know it well. I lived there as an Army public affairs officer in 2003. The small town of Rüdesheim is special to the story too, a place of decisions, joys, and sorrows. By the time I polished those scenes, we were serving in Germany again, and visited Rüdesheim often. Research! Tough job. What can I say? 😉
Is there one subject you would never write about as an author? What is it and why?
Stories that end without God’s hope. Because I’ve done time in hopelessville, but I don’t live there anymore.
Moving on from your story, tell us a little about yourself. We’ll help! What literary character is
Jonathan Livingston Seagull. I dream big dreams and pursue them relentlessly. God made me that way. He gave me Asperger’s Syndrome. Some dreams come true, many don’t. But there’s joy in the pursuit.
What strange writing habits do you have? Like standing on your head while you write with a pen between your teeth?
Strange writing habits? I don’t know about strange, but I Google expressions a lot. English is my third language and I second-guess myself often. It’s silly though. Sentences are right 99.9% of the time, just the way they appeared in my brain.
Do you have a writing mentor, or another author who has inspired/encouraged you in some way?
Jeff Gerke taught me to write for an (accepting) audience of One. Jeff is also the Lexus of editors and polished A Season to Dance before I showed it to agents and editors in 2014. His books on writing have shaped who I am as a writer, and we’ve been working together on my second manuscript.
We talk a lot about faith and how it weaves throughout our fiction, here at the blog. How has your faith affected/or not affected your writing?
Lol… It’s everything. It’s all connected. I think we’ve covered that. I want to continue writing with God. If I ever feel like He’s not in it, I need to stop. Exodus 33:15.
Because Jaime has some darker elements to her split-time historical and contemporary romantic suspense coming out this year, she likes to ask weird questions. So, if you were responsible to write your own epitaph for your tombstone, what would it say?
Nothing happened until Jesus passed by.
Anne is an insatiable romantic with a serious vintage aura in all she writes. Do you have fabulous love story in your family history that you could share with us in a few words? If not, what about your own?
Yes and no. There are good stories but not many happy endings. Even my grandma (my mom’s mom) was divorced. Asperger’s runs in my family, and that combined with little to no knowledge of God’s truths hurt our chances.
But there’s an interesting story I explore in my second manuscript, The Song of the Desert Willow, a split-time military romance. I use a lot of my maternal grandmother’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 town’s most influential man (my great grandfather, whose name today’s children still know and whose life they still study), his death, loss, change... It’s fascinating to me. I pray I can paint a vivid picture of this unusual slice of history and get people to care.
Erica and Gabrielle both write sweet historical romances. How does romance influence your own writing?
My writing dream has always been to touch people’s hearts with simple stories that speak to the human condition. Can’t do that without romance because love is so central to most of the decisions we make (good or bad). So both the debut and my work in progress, while contemporary fiction, also have a strong romance element.
And for some extra fun . . .
If you could pick one superhero to save you from impending doom, who would it be and why? Jesus. Because He rocks this saving business. He saves completely and forever. Can’t beat that 😉
If you could guest star in one TV show, what would be and what would your ideal role be? I haven’t watched TV since Downton Abbey ended, but let’s see… Before I was a Christian, I used to love Sex and the City. First I would be Carrie Bradshaw with the Russian in the horse drawn sleigh scene in season six. That’s dancer Mikhail Baryshnikov! My Claus! Then I would love all the women in the show, pray for prepared hearts and opportunities to witness, and tell them that there’s a different way to do life—a way that brings more joy and that can put an end to the mad search for wholeness.
Name one significant heirloom or keepsake you have and why it’s important to you: My paternal grandfather’s sword. He was a pilot for the Brazilian air force and died in action when my grandmother was pregnant with my dad.
We’d love you have you share a snippet from your novel to entice us and hook us! J Please share something below:
My husband looked at me and then back at the girl in the portrait. Did he still feel like he was holding me back because of the disease? One day, maybe, I would manage to convince him that I loved him more than I loved ballet.
He sat and reached for the Gibson guitar that was on the nearby floor stand. I’d been trying to keep the instrument clean without touching the tuning pegs. He strummed all six strings twice and tried to adjust the tension on the first one, his hands failing to get a strong grasp of the tuning peg with each attempt.
I sat next to him, yearning to be near. Maybe he would let me help somehow. But he scooted away and my heart sank. Why don’t you let me help you, my love?
His left hand squeezed the guitar’s neck, his fingertips pale on the fretboard. His right hand kept hitting the strings too low or too high as he tried to play. But he braved each note and every line, and I recognized the song.
As he sang about a man and a woman who completed each other in the most simple and perfect ways, I did what I always do when I don’t want to cry. I counted. I smiled and looked beyond his shoulder, counting the bricks around the fireplace. Seventeen, eighteen…
He finished playing but didn’t lift his head.
“I love you so much.” Lift your head and look at me. Let me help.
“I love you too.” He spoke the words without looking up and with no excitement.
That was okay, though. We’d gone through so much over the years. I knew he loved me.
He put his guitar down and stared at it, looking betrayed.
God, help us…
He walked to the coffee table in small, careful steps and grabbed his keys.
Oh, no. Please don’t let him drive. Please, please, please. “Honey, do you really think you should—” The door slammed shut. Was he serious? I sat there gripping the arm of the couch with one hand and covering my mouth with the other.
At length, I crossed the room and pushed the curtain aside to scan the driveway. He was gone. I slammed both hands on the cold window. “Why?” Would he ever stop driving? His stubbornness would surely kill him sooner than the disease.
I put Don Quixote, a long and vibrant ballet, in the DVD player, and as I always did when he drove away like this, I tried—with some success—to lose myself in the beauty of the Mariinsky’s production, filmed in 2006 in St. Petersburg, Russia.
He was usually back before the gypsy dance, but the third act started without any sign of him. Drizzle now covered the window, and I did my best to focus on Dulcinea’s enchanted garden. God, please keep him safe. If You’re still mad at me, hurt me, but don’t let anything happen to him. He doesn’t deserve to suffer any more than he already has.
The fourth act started. Please, God.
Novikova was finishing her last solo. Don Quixote was almost over. I checked my phone. Four fifteen. Please, God. My hands were shaking, the palms clammy. I exhaled.
And then I heard it. The doorbell. I pulled in a sharp breath.
No one ever came to our place unannounced. No, God. No. Maybe he’s hurt. Spare him.
I opened the door and saw two police officers. The cold drizzle touched my face, and I heard the distant bark of our dog. But he was next to me. Had he barked? I saw one officer’s mouth move, but I couldn’t make out the words.
Memories of our wedding day and of our lives together flashed through my mind.
“I cannot lose him again,” I whispered.
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A Season to Dance: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1946016160/ref=cm_sw_r_fa_dp_t2_zlSzyb0YBQEA9