Exclusive Q&A with Audition author Stasia Ward Kehoe

Today, we are delighted to host Stasia Ward Kehoe’s Audition blog tour — a book that we truly think is fab-u-lous! As part of our stop, Stasia stopped by for a short Q&A:

I used to be so intimidated by verse novels, but thanks to authors like you and Lisa Schroeder, I’ve really come to love them and the way they cut right to the emotional core of a story. But I especially love the use of verse in AUDITION, the way the words act almost as a dance themselves. Was this something you considered while writing AUDITION, or was it more organic than that?

I was very interested in the possibilities of describing movement through this more lyrical literary form, so that was definitely a consideration. When I began writing Audition in verse, I had not yet come to realize how emotionally intense this form could be. That was a big surprise–and pretty intense some days.

Writing & dancing: in what ways are they similar? Different?

Stasia in a high school production of "Bye, Bye Birdie"

One of the things I am truly passionate about is my belief in the synergies between literary and performing arts. Just as a basketball player with an eye for math and spatial awareness brings these gifts to the court, an artist should put ALL his or her creative energy on the table for every project. Growing up in dance and musical theater, I tend to be very aware of cadences, rhythms, in word phrases and even in plot structures. When I wrote Audition, I actually choreographed the Country Duet that Remington creates in the course of the novel. It was a part of my writing process. And, I am also interested in the unique sense of self that being an actor—a performer—fosters in a person. So, I suppose for me, it’s not a question of similar or different. It is all one thing. Just kind of me doing my thing!

AUDITION is clearly a book about a dancer, and the very specific challenges that come with her unique life on the stage. Yet so many of the problems Sara faces can be universally applied to all teens. Why do you think this is?

I think that part of growing up is figuring out who we are and what we want apart from parents, teachers, boyfriends. So, I think, this is not a dancer-problem but a larger teen problem. In Sara, I wanted to portray a teen who is so insecure that she is swept up into a bad relationship because of the status she thinks it brings her. She is a sort of unreliable narrator in that she really doesn’t see what Rem (that “bad-boy choreographer love interest) is doing until late in the story. Finally, it seems like lots of teens I know are very committed to a sport, a performance group (music, dance, drama), or academic pursuit that takes a great deal of their time. Striving for mastery of something as a teenager is a lot of pressure and I think it’s something to which many teens can relate, regardless of whether they’ve ever put on pointe shoes!

And finally … describe how you might adapt AUDITION from a book into a dance.

Stasia choreographing a dance when she was in high school

To shape Audition into a classical, story ballet style, I suppose I’d divide it into two acts. The corps de ballet would play Darby Station friends, ballet students and maybe Upton Academy Students. The main romantic duo would be Sara and Rem, and maybe Julie and Simone could be the secondary, more comic couple. The real trick would be to make the dance Rem creates stand apart from the larger story as described in a ballet and… Obviously you’ve got me thinking! I find if fun to play with plot and structure across genres. Do you ever think a book would make a great movie, or a poem would be awesome set to rock music? Spill!

Thanks for having me here at Novel Novice today.

If you live in CA, WA, OR, NY or NH, visit Stages on Pages to see if my upcoming book tour will be in a town near you!

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One response to “Exclusive Q&A with Audition author Stasia Ward Kehoe

  1. Oooh, great question about turning the book into a dance! And I love Stasia’s answer :) Ballet is so neat, but it seems like most of what’s available to see (around me anyway), is “the same ol’ same ol’” …Ballets of books? Now that I could totally dig ;)

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