THE MIDNIGHT DANCE
Publisher: 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.
1) Hi there, Nikki! Thank you for joining us today. Why don’t you start off by telling us a little about yourself?
Thanks for having me! I live in sunny San Diego with my three kiddos who are crazy busy. I spend way too much time in my car, but it works to my advantage as that’s where I go when I have writer’s block. I just drive and tune everything out except the road and my plot. I love watching live theater (I see probably 20 shows a year), cooking (especially baked goods), and heading to the beach!
2) Now, what we’re here for: your book! What was that first spark that brought The Midnight Dance to life?
I was actually halfway through writing a different novel when I got the idea for this one. The TV was on upstairs and a commercial came on. I wish I could remember which commercial but it was over five years ago and I don’t! Somehow the idea of Pinocchio and live puppets popped into my head. I really loved the idea of writing about a girl who had to find herself after she realizes her thoughts aren’t her own. I knew I had to write that book and I drafted the project in less than two months.
3) The Midnight Dance is all about ballerinas, dancing, and I’m guessing a very competitive atmosphere. Are you a ballerina yourself? If not, how did you establish the competitive mindset of the ballet world?
I am actually not a ballerina! I did however do musical theater all four years in high school and for a brief stint wanted to major in it in college. THE MIDNIGHT DANCE is more about the technical dance training and rehearsals for a specific performance, so I could easily speak to that environment. The push to be the lead and the competition with those around you.
4) By the way, I love the idea of a finishing school for ballerinas, but I’m curious. When people think of world-renowned ballerinas, they often imagine Russia. Why did you choose to set the story in Italy?
Because the concept was originally based on Pinocchio, I chose to set it in Italy as well.
5) You know what else I’m loving about The Midnight Dance? The macabre feeling of that blurb! It sounds very dark and sinister, which isn’t always something we equate with ballet. Was there anything you drew inspiration from, ballet or otherwise, to darken the tone of this story?
The live puppet aspect is a very dark one. These girls are ensconced in a manor in the middle of nowhere, cut off from everyone. Penny begins to question everything and is in search of the truth.
6) Did you find it difficult to mix the darker, thriller tone with the beautiful elegance of the ballet world?
Not particularly. I love mixing settings and concepts to build something new altogether. I love a good steampunk novel! All of my writing involves fantasy or science fiction elements.
7) Now, I gotta ask. From what I see, your background is in rocket science. So how on Earth did you get into writing YA fiction? More importantly, writing YA fiction about dance?
I have sort of a bizarre path. My degree is in aerospace engineering and from there I went into management consultant and then the dotcom boom in NYC. After that I began working as a freelance writer and consultant, then moved to editorial work and writing! I’ve always been a left brain/right brain sort of girl. And YA is always my soft spot. I’m a sucker for instalove!
8) Thank you so much for joining us! But before we go, is there anything else you want to add?
Thank you so much for your time and hosting me! I hope you all enjoy the book and look for my second book next year – THE KING’S QUESTIONER.
Nikki Katz is an author and editor living in sunny San Diego with her three children. With a BS in aerospace engineering, Nikki first put her writing skills to use publishing four nonfiction books. She moved on to writing young adult fiction, her favorite genre to read as well. The Midnight Dance is her debut novel.