Our Interview today is with Author Patricia Beal. I loved Patricia’s new book and knew right away that I wanted to interview her. Thank you for allowing me the privilege. Tell us a little about your new book. What is the main storyline?
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.
How long have you been writing? How many books have you written?
I’ve been writing for twenty years, if you include my time in journalism. A Season is my debut novel. I have a second novel written, The Song of the Desert Willow. My agent sent that out to potential editors in September, so I’m here waiting to see what happens there. Waiting and working on my third novel now, while getting ready to launch A Season to Dance in Portuguese in Brazil this Christmas season.
How exciting. I’m looking forward to another interview when The Song in the Desert comes out. What did you first know you wanted to be a writer?
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.
I’m glad you followed your dream. What inspired you to write this book?
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.
It all starts with one idea, doesn’t it? Did it turn out the way you first thought it would? If not, what was different?
Absolutely not. A Season to Dance didn’t start out as a Christian novel. It was borderline erotic romance because I began my writing journey clueless and lost. I became a Christian during the writing of the novel because of the heartaches of the publishing process. When I finally understood the Gospel and surrendered to Christ, I realized I had to rewrite the whole story. My novel wasn’t just the story of a woman looking for love and professional success. It was about a woman trying to fill the God-shaped hole in her heart with terribly misguided romantic and professional pursuits. She had to come to faith first. Then she could find sufficiency, love, and professional joy. Boom! God had me writing my own salvation story all along. Wow. Can’t make that stuff up. He’s awesome.
It’s amazing how God works through our dreams and disappointments to create His own good purpose. How long did it take you to write? Tell us a little about the process.
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. It was published May 9, 2017.
Did you need to do any special research?
The research for this novel was easy because I’ve been to all the places the novel goes, and I’ve danced ballet for almost forty years now (my whole life). The Huntington’s Disease piece required some work, but I was blessed with a wonderful friend who carries the Huntington’s gene and whose mom is already symptomatic. She is amazing and brave and helped me a great deal. She validated my research, shared stories, served as a sensitivity reader, and then joined the launch team.
God put’s people in our lives at just the right time, doesn’t He? What a blessing you must be to each other. Do you have a special place or atmosphere you like to write in best?
Middle of the night at home—when everything is quiet, everyone is safe and asleep, and all my other jobs are finished.
That’s my favorite time to write also. So, tell me, how are you like your main character?
There are several autobiographical events and emotions in the novel—beyond the journey to Christ. But I’m a bit more pathetic, I’m afraid… I danced pre-professionally in three continents, but never earned a penny dancing ballet. Not one. I never made it to the professional level. So it was awesome to make Ana (~me) a pro, even if not the best of the best. Oh, and I never had a Baryshnikov lookalike and/or a Blake Shelton lookalike fighting over me. I did manage to land a handsome paratrooper who’s been putting up with my writing madness and other insanities for more than twelve years now.
Oh, but that was what made the book so interesting, and real. I felt as if Ana was a friend. Did you learn anything new about yourself while writing this book?
That I needed a personal savior was the big one. But there was more. During the publishing process I was diagnosed with Asperger’s—a kind of autism. Knowing that I’m an Aspie and clinically different was helpful in the editorial process because my editor and I could talk about actions and reactions in the story that didn’t line up with neurotypical actions and reactions. I had the option of making the main character an Aspie or making changes to events and choices to line up with what a neurotypical person would do. In a fantasy world in which “I” made it to the professional level, was pursued by two dreamy men, and experienced perfect surrender and sufficiency, why not cure autism? Don’t get me wrong, I kind of like the way I think. I’m not sure I would want to be neurotypical. But for a 244-page escape? Absolutely!
What new project are you working on now?
The big thing right now is a good Brazil launch of A Season to Dance. God blessed me with more than 25,000+ followers in Brazil, and I’m dying to know if they will buy and love my book – Tempo de Dançar.
I’m sure they will. As I already said, I loved it. What advice would you give a new author?
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.
How can we find your book(s)?
Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas, Books-A-Million, and Book Depository.
Any closing comments you have for us today?
Be sure you’re writing for the right reasons. If you’re a Christian, read The Story of With by Allen Arnold. That would be a phenomenal starting point on a journey of writing with God.
Thank you so much for taking time for this interview. I’m so thankful for the information you shared and the story your book tells. Be sure to let us know when your new book is out so we can interview you about that one too.