I'm so glad to welcome Amanda Brice today to discuss her new debut teen novel, Codename, which was published about a month ago. I haven't had the chance to read it yet, but I absolutely cannot wait to. But without further ado, a million thanks to Amanda Brice for the interview, who will talk about her transition to YA novels from adult romance novels, experience in participating in a ballroom dance competition, and penchant for Grease.
Describe the synopsis of your new book as if you were writing a recipe.
Add one part dancing to one part suspense, and add in a dash of romance. Stir well!
What was your inspiration for your new book?
When I was a kid, I used to write stories about a cool crime-solving chick named Nancy Flew who had this hot boyfriend named Ted Tickleson. Yeah, not so original. But...
Have you ever wanted to be a celebrity or a ballet dancer?
I’ve danced pretty much my entire life. Apparently I used to jump up and down to the tune of the Coke commercial when I was a toddler, so my mom knew she had to enroll me in dance classes as soon as I was old enough. I eventually was part of a local company when I was a teen. Some of my friends are still a part of that world in various capacities (most have moved on to teaching, although a couple are still on Broadway or in ballet companies), but I decided I didn’t want the pressure of a dance career. If you have a job, it’s wonderful, but unless you’re at the very top, there’s a constant cycle of auditions and waiting tables while waiting for your big break. Not to mention never knowing whether you’ll ever get another role. And your career can come screeching to a halt with just one injury. Too stressful. I admire everyone who does it, but it wasn’t for me.
I continued to dance for fun in college – ballet, flamenco, tap, ballroom. Then my junior year, Duke started a competitive ballroom dance team, and I knew I had to audition. It was a blast! I continued to compete for a couple of years after college, but stopped once I went to law school. Now I take a weekly ballet class. Well, when I have time, that is. I have a toddler, so weekends can be crazy. I can’t wait until she’s old enough to dance!
You were an adult romance novelist before. Why did you decide to make the transition and how was the transition for you in writing style?
Pretty easy, actually. YA comes a lot more naturally to me. Perhaps that’s more of a reflection on my maturity than anything else. LOL!
I decided to start writing YA because one day I had a book idea, and it just happened that the characters had to be in high school. It wouldn’t have worked any other way. So I sat down to write, and the ideas just flowed. I think my voice is more suited to YA.
I enjoy writing for teens and preteens because the emotions are so close to the surface. You tend to tamp that down as you get older. I feel like it’s much more real for teens.
As a writer, we all have writer’s block or can’t seem to get the ideas flowing. How do you overcome yours? Do you have a special technique that you can share?
I don’t know if it’s a special technique, but if I feel blocked, I give myself permission to just write crap. You can always revise it later, but you can’t edit what isn’t written.
Any projects you’re working on? Can we expect a sequel?
Indeed you can! Dani’s adventures continue in Pointe of No Return, which should be out in November. We’ll see how things go with the first two books, but I hope to write a third in the series.
I’m hard at work writing the sequel, but I’m also working on a cozy mystery for adults.
Favorite book when you were a teenager?
I had several favorites, but I think the one that intrigued me the most at the time was probably Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. We read it in my sophomore English class, and I was fascinated by this gothic tale, even though it has parallels to Jane Eyre, which I didn’t particularly care for. There was just something so primal about the new Mrs. De Winter’s fascination with her husband’s late wife, and I couldn’t get it out of my head. Later that year our English teacher asked us to choose one of the books we’d read and create some sort of derivative work based on it. Some students painted pictures, someone produced a rap video.
Last movie you just watched?
Does Dora’s Ballet Adventure count? No? Hmmm…I can’t even remember the last time I saw something in the theatre, but I just saw Black Swan on DVD and Emma on PBS. My “comfort movie” (the one I can watch a million times and it never gets old) is Grease. What can I say? I’m a sucker for singing and dancing!
What character would you like to become from your literature?
Would it be a total cop-out to list a character in one of my unpublished manuscripts? I know that’s sort of unfair, because you have no way of knowing who I’m talking about, but the heroine (Julie) in Party Like It’s 1899 is pretty cool. She buys an old book from a used bookstore while on a class trip to Paris, and the next thing she knows, she and a guy she considers a total arrogant jerk get magically transported back in time to the days of the can-can, Impressionist artists, and the Moulin Rouge. And since this is a romance, obviously she learns that the guy isn’t all that arrogant after all. It’s a very fun story and I hope publish it some day.
The concept of time travel is just fascinating to me, so obviously I’d love to spend a day in Julie’s shoes.
As for books that you can currently buy, I think I’d say Maya from Codename: Dancer. I know, I’m supposed to say the heroine, not her sidekick. And I do love Dani, but there’s just something really cool about Maya. She’s brash, snarky, and not afraid to speak her mind. She totally stands up to her high school’s high society, too. Not afraid to call them out, even if it makes her unpopular. I think she’d be a blast to write. Who knows, I might write a book or two from her perspective. Analisa’s POV, too.
Again, thanks for Amanda Brice for her interview and congratulations to her new teen novel. If you're interested in buying it, which I'm sure you should be, check it out here.