I am excited to host author of Dance of Shadows, Yelena Black at Book’d Out today. Dance of Shadows is the highly anticipated debut from Bloomsbury publishing and has the been the subject of a unique and comprehensive worldwide publicity campaign via Facebook, one I was thrilled to be part of. My review has been posted HERE. In the meantime, read how Yelena builds suspense in Dance of Shadows, view the tantalising trailer and find out how you can read chapters 1-3 for FREE.
The craft of writing is something I have given a great deal of thought to over the years. In graduate school, when I was getting my M.F.A., we talked a lot about what makes a good story. Certainly you have to have interesting characters—people who we as readers haven’t seen before and are curious to know, who have complicated and wonderful views on life and love. But you can’t just have interesting characters. You have to have a compelling plot. An idea that people want to read about. A setting that is evocative. A great title! And the list goes on and on.
One thing that I realized in grad school was that I personally responded to stories that had a great deal of suspense. I have always loved mysteries, but when I began to think about why I loved them as a genre, it ultimately came down to the element of suspense. I like to be pulled along like taffy when I read, flinging page after page to find out what happens next, and to whom, and the age-old question—why?
Even if the book you’re reading is not a mystery, many authors have found ways to make certain scenes or moments suspenseful. One way to do this is to withhold information from the reader. Don’t tell us everything that we need to know early on. Rather, tease us. Give us little bits throughout that ultimately lead to fabulous conclusion.
This process is how I began to write my novel Dance of Shadows. In it, my main character Vanessa Adler is about to start her first year at the New York Ballet Academy, a prestigious boarding school in Manhattan for talented ballet dancers. It is the same school that her older sister Margaret attended—and vanished from a few years earlier. Right from the start, we know that Vanessa’s sister is missing. And while the book is about many things in terms of the plot, certainly one of the driving forces is Vanessa’s quest to discover what exactly happened to her older sister.
Throughout the novel, Vanessa and friends uncover tiny hidden secrets about Margaret that lead Vanessa to believe that her sister is alive—and that she may be the only one who can help her. This mystery is what drives the entire Dance of Shadows series (with many new things being learned along the way, of course). The suspense of what happened to Margaret at school and where she is now helps speed along the plot—and I hope that readers are as curious to know the truth as Vanessa is. And, at the very least, I hope they find Dance of Shadows suspenseful. If they do, then I’ve done my job, and my professors at grad school will be proud.
Vanessa Adler isn’t so sure she really belongs at the School of American Ballet. But dance runs in her family. It’s been a part of her life for as long as she can remember. Her grandmother and mother were prima ballerinas, and her older sister Margaret was, too. That is, until Margaret mysteriously disappeared from school three years ago. Vanessa is heir to the family’s gift and the only person who can fulfill her sister’s destiny. She has no choice.
But she never could have guessed how dangerous the school is. The infamous choreographer, Josef, isn’t just ruthless with his pupils, he guards a sinister secret, one in which the school’s dancers-prized for their beauty, grace, and discipline-become pawns in a world of dark, deadly demons.
Read chapters 1-3 for FREE
Dance of Shadows will be available from Bloomsbury in the US, UK and Australia on February 12th or pre-order now!