Saturday, May 14, 2011

Guest Post and Giveaway with YA author Amanda Brice

We welcome the weekend and with it an Author Guest Post that was scheduled to run yesterday. With the Blogger outage on Thursday, we are a day behind. Reader Girls welcomes Amanda Brice, author of the YA novel Codename: Dancer (Dani Spevak Mystery #1) to our blog today.

First, let's tell you about Codename: Dancer. Here's the summary: Aspiring ballerina Dani Spevak is thrilled when hit TV show Teen Celebrity Dance Off comes to the campus of her performing arts boarding school. She trades the barre for the ballroom and gets set to cha-cha-cha to stardom with Hollywood wonderboy Nick Galliano.

At first their partnership is awkward, because Dani is in awe of her longtime teen idol crush. But soon their chemistry is heating up the dance floor and the attraction moves into real life.

Her excitement is short-lived, because someone wants her off the show. Bombs, poisoning, arson… Will Dani’s 15 minutes of fame be over before she reaches age 15? Dani and her friends are suddenly at the center of some serious sabotage. And if she doesn’t find out who is behind it, her next pirouette could be her last.

It’s like Nancy Drew in toe shoes in this light-hearted tween/ya mystery, a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® Award for Best Young Adult Romance.

Sounds good, right?
We welcome Amanda Brice.

I’ve gotten a lot of comments since Codename: Dancer released about a particular subplot. My book has been described as “snappy and fun” (by author Cynthia Justlin) and “fun and fascinating” (by Tiger’s All-Consuming Reviews), with a “spunky heroine” (by author Rhonda Stapleton) who will “twirl [her] way into your heart” (by author Melissa Francis), and yet it’s not all light and fun. There are some very serious aspects to the book.

Although I write in a light conversational, almost chick lit tone, I touched on a rather serious issue – anorexia. It wasn’t a decision I made lightly, but ultimately I think it was important to include in a YA book about dancers.

Unfortunately, you can’t write something about the dance world without discussing eating disorders. Not if you strive for realism. I really wish that wasn’t case.

When I was 13, I got assigned as an understudy in Gaité Parisienne, which is a fabulous Belle Epoque (late 1890s) can-can-inspired ballet. I was excited to get the opportunity to learn all the roles and improve my craft. It was an honor because I was so young, but I knew going in that I wouldn’t actually get to perform. Not unless something drastic happened to one of the dancers.

Except that I did get to perform. A 16-year-old in the company was hospitalize with bulimia. It was a bittersweet time for me, because on one hand, I was thrilled to get to dance, but I only got the chance because she was very, very sick. You can’t exactly celebrate that.

As an adult, I’ve finally come to terms with my own disordered eating. I was not an anorexic or bulimic, but I definitely did not have a health body image. None of us did. We would fly into a panic during weekly weigh-ins at the studio if we gained even 1 pound. Because we’d seen the director move girls to the back line in a routine (or worse, out of the piece entirely) for less.

I used to “forget” to ear (note the air quotes) for a day or two, and then I would binge when nobody was watching. (Because if nobody saw, it didn’t count, right?) I know now what I was doing was extremely unhealthy and dangerous, but it seemed to make sense at the time. I did this through college, actually, until the day I passed out during a ballroom team rehearsal and had to be taken by ambulance to the ER. I was sure I didn’t have a problem, because while I was on the small side of average, I wasn’t super skinny.

I wish I didn’t have to write this subplot. It kills me when the media subconsciously – or overtly – puts pressure on girls to be thin. And the pressure is even greater for dancers. It’s my hope that years from now, girls reading Codename will look at this subplot as a curious figment of history. Something quaint and strange, a foreign concept. Can we get there?

Dani definitely isn’t cured by the end of the book. Not by a long way. She’s really only started to accept her eating disorder and has vowed to tackle it head on. I’ll explore her struggle in future books…while keeping true to my aim to write fun, light-hearted mysteries, of course!

What do you think? Does the media put too much emphasis on body image?

Giveaway!
Leave a comment and you’ll be entered into a drawing for a free e-book copy of Codename: Dancer!

About the Author:
Amanda Brice lives outside Washington, DC with her husband and toddler daughter. An intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency, she combines her love of writing with her legal career by speaking on basic copyright and trademark law on the writers’ conference circuit. Her debut novel, Codename: Dancer, was released in April. You can learn more about Amanda at www.amandabrice.net.

Amanda Brice at Goodreads
Codename: Dancer Goodreads page
Buy Codename: Dancer at Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords

We thank Amanda Brice.

13 comments:

  1. Hehee, I'm the first one to enter!

    Sounds like a very good YA book! Love reading about dancers and dancing.

    inga(dot)kupp(at)gmail(dot)com

    inga from http://www.ingasilbergbooks.com/

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  2. Thanks for having me ladies!

    Inga, I love reading about dancers, too, which is why I wrote the book. There seem to be a void on the YA shelves for dance fiction. Tons of books for the little girls, but not much for teens.

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  3. Sounds amazing. Can't wait to give it a try!!

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  4. I love dance movies. I haven't read any dance books yet but this one sounds interesting!

    I would love to be entered!

    Jen
    Lratrandom@gmail.com

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  5. I was a dance major for a while. Also did Ballet for most of my life. 2 knee surgeries later....no longer a dancer. Oh well...thanks!

    Vivien
    deadtossedwaves at gmail dot com

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  6. Can't believe its my first time hearing about this book. It sounds great.

    jen4777[at]hotmail.com

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  7. I'd love to be entered in the drawing! Sounds like a great book!

    yavampire(at)hotmail.com

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  8. great givewaway
    follow via gfc
    drakebdog@gmail.com

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  9. Love what she had to say about why she included anorexia, and I love the premise of the book. It's like SYTYCD meets Center Stage meets Nancy Drew! I hope I win the ebook, but even if not, I know I'll be reading this. :)

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  10. I really want to read this one, love books about dance being a dancer myself :)

    danceislove27(at)gmail(dot)com

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  11. This sounds so good. I like how the author's tried to keep the realism there. I'll definitely be reading this.

    crackaspinebookreviews[at]gmail[dot]com

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  12. This sounds like an awesome book mixing mystery and dancing. Thanks for the giveaway.
    scarlet_kira(at)live.com

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  13. sounds like a great book.. thanks for hosting.

    raynekitten@gmail.com

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