Off Balance, Book 1 of Ballet Theatre Chronicles
By Terez Mertes Rose
Genre: Women’s fiction (with YA crossover), performing arts related
Alice thinks she’s accepted the loss of her ballet career, injury having forced her to trade in pointe shoes onstage for spreadsheets upstairs. That is, until the day Alice's boss asks her to befriend Lana, a pretty new company member he’s got his eye on. Lana represents all Alice has lost, not just as a ballet dancer, but as a motherless daughter. It’s pain she’s kept hidden, even from herself, as every good ballet dancer knows to do.
Lana, lonely and unmoored, desperately needs some help, and her mother, back home, vows eternal support. But when Lana begins to profit from Alice’s advice and help, her mother’s constant attention curdles into something more sinister.
Together, both women must embark on a journey of painful rediscoveries, not just about career opportunities won and lost, but the mothers they thought they knew.
OFF BALANCE takes the reader beyond the glitter of the stage to expose the sweat and struggle, amid the mandate to sustain the illusion at all cost.
Interview with Terez Mertes Rose:
I am a former ballet dancer, so I incorporated my own memories of performing onstage, being backstage, the whole pre-performance ritual. But I danced at the amateur level, so what it’s like at the top-ranking professional level is something I had to research, read about, hunt down any book or interview that talks about the experience at a candid level. Finally, I mixed the two things together and tossed it in a blender with my imagination (a crucial part of the cocktail) and let it meld together.
It wasn’t so much a decision, as something I’d always done. For a long time, I assumed everyone liked to write, and felt instantly at ease with it. But I started seeing myself as a writer, versus someone who wrote as a hobby, when my husband and I were expatriates in London for two years. I had this delicious, unprecedented liberation from a 9-to-5 job. Writing about our travels and my adventures as an expatriate was just so much fun, I couldn’t believe how engrossing and soothing the writing practice was. Hours slipped away like minutes. It was both therapy and enlightenment. The more I wrote, the more I learned. Nothing in my working life prior had ever been a fraction as engrossing or nourishing. When we returned to the U.S., I just dreaded the thought of going back to full-time work that would surely be less fulfilling. “So, don’t,” my husband said. “Write.” So I did. Lucky, lucky me, not just for finding what it was I wanted to do with my life and having the financial resources to make it happen, but that my spouse wholeheartedly supported it.
I write as full-time as being a parent will allow. I get up at 4:00am to get some writing time in before it’s time for the school day routine for my teen son. Foolishly, I’d thought I’d have loads more time to write once he was out of elementary school, then middle school. That’s not proving to be the case, alas. But I write when I can, steal from the weekends when I can, and it seems, through the years, to average thirty hours a week. Some day I hope to have more.
I write nonfiction as well as fiction. It’s very curious to observe within me the way one will have a stronger pull over the other, and they will switch places a few years later. It’s almost as if I don’t have a choice. From 2002 to 2012, it was almost exclusively fiction. Before that, and after, nonfiction seemed to call the shots. I’ve been working hard over the past two years to grow my blog, The Classical Girl, and it’s meant keeping a nonfiction cap on, pretty much all the time. I started reviewing ballet productions for Bachtrack.com about eighteen months ago, as well, and that’s been an even newer nonfiction challenge for me. But a good one.
Boy, I gave this a lot of thought and couldn’t come up with a single good name! The thing is, I would search far and wide for the actors that matched the faces and personalities my characters already have, in my mind. I see them so distinctly! I couldn’t imagine having to compromise that vision. I’m guessing I’d be a HUGE pain in the ass in the casting and screenplay writing process, because I’d be hovering, saying, "no, no, she’s not like that! She wouldn’t have said it like that! You’ve got it all wrong." I’ll bet they purposely keep writers far from casting process for that reason.
Book no. 2 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles is written and now I’m smoothing out the kinks, because, originally, these two ballet books were not intended as a series. I wrote #2 a few years after the first ballet novel, with another unrelated novel in between. It’s been fun making the two ballet books match up, but it can be tricky, because occasionally I stole from #1 to write #2. Now I have to un-steal and make sure it doesn’t make one less dynamic than the other. Beyond this project, I look forward to fine tuning two more completed novels, and releasing them in 2016 and 2017 respectively.
A cup of tea with hot milk and sugar. A quiet setting. A playlist of classical music playing quietly in the background. Well, I should say, that’s my ideal set up. That, and lots of solitude. But when life doesn’t allow you those things, you still gotta write. Fortunately, the compulsion to write runs deep within me, and when the urge comes up to write, I will stop in my tracks, if at all possible, and just start to write. I have pads of paper and pen in the car, in the bathroom, one or two in each room of the house, and spiral notebooks throughout the house. I carry a journal at all times. In the end, I need only a thought, a pen and paper to write.
I would love to be one of my own characters, actually. That’s what motivates me to tell their stories in the first place, and keeps me utterly engrossed during the 18-ish months it takes for me to complete a novel. it’s a bit like living out a fantasy life, on my part. They tend to be high achievers, albeit struggling to stay on top of their game, and I marvel at what it must feel like, to be the best of the best, in the classical ballet world, or in the violin world, or just in one’s career. And while they always have bumps and problems to overcome, in my stories, they DO overcome them. Their problems make sense (at least to us, the reader), they learn from them, they rally and improve, and… ta da! They win the prize, or the man, or the job. Real life doesn’t always work that way. Sometimes it doesn’t make any damned sense at all. It’s why I love fiction and will forever read it.
9. What do you like to do in your spare time?
Read, read, read. Take walks in nature. Exercise. Again, this is more of a compulsion. If I don’t exercise vigorously at least five times a week, I get edgy and out of sorts. I think it’s a former dancer thing. We are wired for movement, on a regular basis. I actually enjoy exercising twice a day. Unfortunately, time just doesn’t allow it.
10. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
Paris. No question. I love that place like no other. My soul feels at home all through France, and Paris is the icing on the cake.
Terez Mertes Rose is a writer and former ballet dancer whose work has appeared in the Crab Orchard Review, Women Who Eat (Seal Press), A Woman’s Europe (Travelers’ Tales), the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News. She reviews dance performances for Bachtrack.com and blogs about ballet and classical music at The Classical Girl. She makes her home in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, son and too many cats. She loves good food, good wine, and a good (but not too hard) adult ballet class. She also publishes under the name Terez Rose.
Author website: www.terezrose.com
Author blog site: www.theclassicalgirl.com
Author Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/terez.rose
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