All, Interview

Interview with Patricia Beal

Happy Tuesday, Reader Friends!!

Today, I’m sharing an Interview with Patricia Beal. She’s stopped by to talk about her debut novel, A Season to Dance. Grab a cup a coffee or tea and join in!

About the Book

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From the back cover: 
“Ana Brassfield has her path to the stage of the Metropolitan Opera House 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.

Convinced the kiss is more than a one-time mistake, Peter breaks off their engagement. With an old dog crippled by arthritis and dreams deferred but not left behind, Ana moves to Germany to be with Claus. But the ghost of his late wife, Ana’s own feelings for Peter, and the pressure of earning a spot in a large ballet company are a high price for a shot at success. Ana seems on the verge of having everything she ever dreamed of, but will it be enough?”

Purchase: Amazon, B&N, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas


Interview

Welcome, Patricia! I’m so excited to talk about your latest release, A Season to Dance. How did you decide to write a story about a ballerina? Anyone who has followed you on social media, knows your affinity for the ballet. Do you have personal experience with this art form?

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I started dancing when I was eight after seeing Brazilian ballerina Aurea Hammerli on TV (the one hugging me on the photo—my mom took me to Rio de Janeiro to watch her live after I’d started my studies). I never stopped. My dream of becoming a professional ballerina didn’t work out, but I managed to dance in pre-professional companies in South America, Europe, and the United States. 

​My love for ballet goes beyond the art though. I have Asperger’s Syndrome, an autism spectrum disorder. 


One of the hardest aspects of life for us is making small talk and developing relationships. We don’t know what to say when there is nothing important to communicate, and we don’t understand body language, so it’s hard to bond with people. But in ballet, we spend hours in class and rehearsals not talking at all or exchanging only vital information. The gestures are coded. When dancers get together outside the studio, it’s often to watch more ballet—live or on TV. So it’s the perfect environment for someone with Asperger’s to thrive in and make friends—lots of passion, minimal talk.

Last year my husband retired from active duty service, so I’m now working for the Army full-time again. I don’t get to dance as much as I used to, unfortunately. But I still show up to class when I can. I will always love ballet and the ballet studio—a bastion of civility in an everything-goes world, like Ana says in the novel.

Thank you so much for sharing!
Your story takes the readers from America to Germany. What kind of research did you have to do to make it authentic? Are there real places in your story or are they fictionalized?

PictureColumbia Theater

All the places are real places. I wrote most of the novel while we were stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia, so the story begins in that area (chapter 2 does). 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 (Baumholder this time) and visited Rüdesheim often. Tough life. I know. Thank you, Uncle Sam 😊 

Thank you so much for serving our country!
I’m excited that Ana is half-Brazilian and half-American. Did you pull from your personal background when creating her character?

I knew I wanted her name to be Ana, after Brazilian ballerina Ana Botafogo. But why would an American girl have that name? Mom. Of course. That also worked with the Catholic background I gave her, a background similar to mine, and I did grow up in Brazil, so I know the whole thing would be legit – yes, personal background.

Fantastic!
Are you a pantser or a plotter? Care to share how your writing process goes?

Pantser all the way. The novel began in my mind as a single scene—a ballerina stuck at the top of a marquee, something that kind of happened to me once. From there it grew a chapter at a time, one per Saturday, during a six-month period.

I wasn’t a Christian when I wrote the first version of A Season to Dance, so the story was initially just about big dreams and dreamy suitors. But the whole time, God had me writing my own salvation story.

I didn’t grow up in a Christian home, but 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, that 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.

Then Jesus passed by. 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 secular writers’ conference and started a fourteen-month rewrite. This book, A Season to Dance, wrote me—not the other way around. I journeyed with Ana and pray that now others will journey with us, beyond expectations and suffering and to the very heart of Christ.

I think God is a plotter. He knew where the whole thing was going all along. But how could I have known that I was writing my own salvation story? ❤ 

That is so beautiful. God is definitely a plotter!
What are three elements that are always present in your writing and why?

Ballet – because it’s my forever passion. It wakes up the magic in me.

God – because the world is so busy and loud, if what I do doesn’t help seek and save that which is lost, I can use my God-given 24 hours a day doing something else.

Reality – because I have Asperger’s and it would drive me crazy to make up a place and what’s in it. I have to know with certainty. If I write an airport scene (like the opening of the manuscript I’m polishing now), I have to be at that airport, at the time of day and day of the week the characters are there. I don’t want to imagine the sounds and the smells, I want to report what’s actually there—in lyrical prose. That’s where the artistry comes in. To have my work grounded in a healthy degree of reality is important to me. In A Season to Dance, I really was lost when I wrote the lost parts. I really was discovering Christianity when I wrote those parts. I really was at Callaway Gardens when I wrote Callaway. I was in Germany when I wrote Germany. I was losing my dog, when I wrote Ana’s dog. I was born again when Ana was born again. There was a personal surrender that went along with her every surrender. And I really am a ballerina, too. But she’s better than me. I never moved beyond pre-professional companies.

That’s awesome how you use reality. How about some fun fact questions?

Sure.

Mamba or Starburst?

Starburst the candy? I like that… Let me go Google “Mamba” … I’m back. Candy. I’ve never tried Mamba. Maybe I should.

You should! It’s good. Shorts or skirts?

Skirts.

​Opera or Play?

Play.

Coffee or tea?

Both. Coffee in the morning and tea in the afternoon.

Makes sense to me! How can readers support you on your writing journey?

Read my book ❤ 

I pray you find many readers! Thank you so much for coming!

Thank you for having me here. How fun! 

About the Author

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Patricia Beal is a 2015 Genesis semi-finalist and First Impressions finalist. She is represented by Les Stobbe of the Leslie H. Stobbe Literary Agency, and A Season to Dance is her debut novel (Bling! Romance / Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, May 2017). Patricia writes from El Paso, Texas, where she lives with her husband and two children.

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5 thoughts on “Interview with Patricia Beal”

  1. The book sounds wonderful and that cover is just gorgeous! Mamba used to be my favorite candy as a kid. Yum!
    Patricia – I find it fascinating to read about how you have to be completely certain about what you write. Hearing how personal the book is to you makes me want to read it. I’ll definitely be adding it to my TBR list.
    Also, as a parent who’s child has autism, I love hearing people describe what things are like for them. I think it helps me get little glimpses into how things might be for my son as well.
    Congratulations on your debut novel!

    Like

    1. Thank you, Melanie! I hope you love the book. I find Twitter to be a great source of perspectives in Asperger’s. Maybe it’s because it’s easy to sort through large amounts of information quickly. There’s a kids’ book I love too: All Cats Have Asperger Syndrome. It paints a very clear picture. We’re always on the outside looking in–desperately wanting to fit in, to have our place, and to matter. We just don’t know how…

      Like

  2. What a beautiful, touching salvation story, Patricia! And your book sounds wonderful as well. All the best with your debut novel!

    Like

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