Welcome to A Season to Dance Blog Tour
Hello friends! Please welcome Patricia Beal to the blog today! We are featuring her debut book today and it is a good one. She is an author that you want to keep an eye on, as I can see big things in the future for her!
7 Behind the Scenes Facts About Writing a Season to Dance
Welcome to the blog today!
Thank you so much for having me here! I’m so excited about this tour and about this stop. Your blog is lovely 😊
So, you asked me for “behind the scenes facts about writing the book.” Something about the word “facts” in the request got me thinking in directions I haven’t in a long time. I have a journalism background, so “facts” is a big deal. It’s different from behind the scenes stories, events, thoughts… We want facts.
Well, here we go.
- When I wrote the first draft of the novel (in 2011), Chapter 1 was chapter 26. Chapter 2 was the original chapter 1.
What happened? I’m a fan of chronological beginnings, but a Harlequin editor told me in 2012 that I had a frame problem in A Season to Dance. She used The Notebook as an example. Imagine Sparks opening his novel with the chronological beginning—the summer the young couple meets. The story would promise youthful romance, all tension would die when they reunite later in life, and there would be no way to then introduce Alzheimer’s (no tension left + breaking the promise of youthful romance). She encouraged me to use the same frame Sparks used to set the right tone and to maintain tension after late-act two reunion. It worked. Once I changed the frame, the story began to get attention and was understood for what it was—a love story and a journey, but not formula romance.
- Chapter 2 (back when it was still chapter 1) was read out loud at a writers’ meeting at Shakespeare & Company in Paris in the spring of 2012.
Not because it was awesome, but because I was there. Not kidding! I was living in Germany, was obsessed with the movie Midnight in Paris, and was visiting The City of Light often. In one of my day trips I figured I would go to a writers meeting at the famous bookstore, and just like in the U.S., the leader asked for volunteers to read their work. I couldn’t help it. I had to raise my hand. It was so cool. Bucket list moment.
- 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.
- The arthritic dog Baryshnikov is based on my real dog Kyllian.
Almost everything Barysh goes through, my girl Kyllian went through as I was writing the story. But I gave Barysh the closing I wish Kyllian had had. I don’t want to spoil anything, but there are more details about the two dogs in the discussion questions portion of the book.
- I wrote several chapters on location.
I’m an Army wife, so we move and travel a lot. Or did. My husband retired from active duty last year. We’re back home at Fort Bragg now. Anyway… I wrote many of the Callaway Gardens chapters sitting at Callaway and many of the Germany chapters at my favorite kaffeehaus. I’ve also been to Prague and Mallorca. So, all you read in the novel is legit. As for my German? Meh… From the acknowledgements: “I grew up in New Hamburg, Brazil and lived in Germany twice, but my German is not very good. My son said it best a couple of years ago after I ordered three Burger King meals at the drive-thru of our neighborhood store in Idar-Oberstein: ‘We’ll see what we’ll get this time.’ I know a little. I researched a lot. Any mistakes in the German language in A Season to Dance are mine.”
- 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. 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.
- During the publishing process I was diagnosed with Asperger’s—a kind of autism.
What?! I’m an Aspie? Can’t say I saw that coming. But it sure explains a lot. Explains everything, really. Every. Thing. Knowing that I’m 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 her 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!
Thank you so much for spending time with my words! I love you all. I’m putting together a prayer list for the Christmas break. Shoot me a note if you want to be on it. I would love to pray for you – firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Author