Title: The Midnight Dance
Author: Nikki Katz
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: October 17th, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
When the music stops, the dance begins.
Seventeen-year-old Penny is a lead dancer at the Grande Teatro, a finishing school where she and eleven other young women are training to become the finest ballerinas in Italy. Tucked deep into the woods, the school is overseen by the mysterious and handsome young Master who keeps the girls ensconced in the estate – and in the only life Penny has never known.
But when flashes of memories, memories of a life very different from the one she thinks she’s been leading, start to appear, Penny begins to question the Grand Teatro and the motivations of the Master. With a kind and attractive kitchen boy, Cricket, at her side, Penny vows to escape the confines of her school and the strict rules that dictate every step she takes. But at every turn, the Master finds a way to stop her, and Penny must find a way to escape the school and uncover the secrets of her past before it’s too late.
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1. What does your writing process look like? Do you know the whole story when you start? Or do you just start writing and go with it (seat of the pants writing)? If you plan it out, how do you do that? Outline, notecards, post-it-notes, etc.?
I always have a sense of the storyline and arc before I start. I know the central conflict and create a vision board for the characters and setting. Then I dive right in! I’ve tried to create detailed outlines in Excel, but I always seem to shelve the project before I even get started. It seems to suck the creativity out of the concept and I want to just hand over the outline to readers and say I’m done!
2. How do you come up with your ideas for your stories?
THE MIDNIGHT DANCE is actually the sixth novel I’ve written. My ideas have stemmed from a variety of subjects but I always have a fantasy/science fiction bent. I think I’ve only ever written one scene that takes place in a contemporary high school. I was halfway through writing a different novel when I got the idea for THE MIDNIGHT DANCE. I was watching TV one evening and a commercial came on. I really wish I could remember which commercial but I don’t! Somehow the idea of Pinocchio and living puppets sunk into my psyche and I knew I had to write the book. The main topic I wanted to explore was one of a girl trying to find herself after she realizes her thoughts aren’t her own. I drafted the project in less than two months and here we are today!
3. How long have you been writing?
Since I was four. Seriously. I wrote horrible poetry! And then a play when I was in fourth grade. More seriously I started writing young adult novels in about 2011.
4. What tips do you have for aspiring writers?
Don’t stop. It sounds cliche, but don’t stop. Keep writing and learn to edit. I gave up on a few of my earlier novels because I hate the editing process, but it’s a very important skill to have! This industry takes a serious backbone. You have to be okay with rejection from agents, editors, and ultimately your readers! Be proud of your work before you even start to submit it elsewhere. And to that end, get a couple of very good critique partners whose feedback you trust.
5. How important are names in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds, or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
Names are critical to me. All of my main characters always have specific names, typically tied to a meaning. I usually hop on the Internet and look up baby names as needed.
6. What are your favorite:
I read a ton of young adult. My favorite authors are Laini Taylor, Leigh Bardugo, Marissa Meyer … the list could go on and on!
I’m actually not a huge fan of watching things. It may sound weird but I haven’t probably only watched two hours of television in the past two weeks. I will admit to being a big fan of contestant shows like Survivor and AGT, and if I do get into a series it tends to be violent ones like Banshee, Sons of Anarchy, and Breaking Bad.
I’m kind of a Top 40 girl honestly! But I also love alternative 80s and 90s music. It depends on my mood. And when I’m writing I only listen to instrumental soundtracks. I can’t have any speaking!
I always have a cup of coffee on hand and will snack on anything in my cupboard. Pretzels, chips and hummus, and sour candy.