Friday, May 6, 2016

Interview with contemporary romance author Grier Cooper

Today I’m interviewing Grier Cooper about her contemporary young adult novel, Hope: Indigo Ballet Series, book #2.

During her virtual book tour, Grier will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble (winner’s choice) gift card to a randomly drawn winner. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below.  To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit her other tour stops and enter there, too!

Grier began ballet lessons at age five and left home at fourteen to study at the School of American Ballet in New York. She has performed on three out of seven continents with companies such as San Francisco Ballet, Miami City Ballet, and Pacific Northwest Ballet, totaling more than thirty years of experience as a dancer, teacher and performer.

She writes and blogs about dance in the San Francisco Bay Area and has interviewed and photographed a diverse collection dancers and performers including Clive Owen, Nicole Kidman, Glen Allen Sims and Jessica Sutta. She is the author of the Indigo Dreams ballet fiction series for young adults and The Daily Book of Photography.

Welcome, Grier. Please share a little bit about your current release.

Perfection. Beauty. Pain. This is life for Indigo Stevens at the famed New York School of Ballet, where there’s no such thing as weakness or privacy and every movement is scrutinized and judged. Indigo hopes she’ll be chosen for the company, but her ballet teachers aren’t talking and their silence is confusing.

When Indigo is singled out for a coveted solo she feels her dreams are finally within reach, until she discovers she’s dancing with Felipe Gonzalez, the school’s smolderingly hot rising star. In the days that follow, Indigo questions everything she thought was true and finds herself making surprising choices. Will she create the life she wants? How do you live your dreams without losing yourself?

What inspired you to write this book?
I left home at fourteen to study at the School of American Ballet and went on to dance with San Francisco Ballet and Miami City Ballet. Dance has shaped who I am; I've been performing and teaching for more than thirty-five years. Many people dream about having a life in ballet but only a few are able to do it– I love being able to share what it's really like, the blood, sweat and tears, and of course the thrill of touring and performing.

Excerpt from Hope:
            Maggie plunks her bag down, grabbing the spot next to me. “Ten minutes ‘til the fun begins,” she says. She glances around furtively before adding, “Who knows what torture she'll dish out today. But inquiring minds want to know: will she reach new levels of cattiness or will we be left sorely disappointed?” She grins wickedly as she finishes tying a ribbon on her pointe shoe.
Neither of us fares well when Alexa Damore teaches class. She's known for her snide comments and keen ability to pick people apart. “I’ll take disappointment over outright humiliation any day,” I counter. “But who knows. Maybe one of these days she’ll be miraculously transformed.”
Maggie arches an eyebrow. “What?” I continue. “It’s not too much to hope for–a little prayer can’t hurt. Pray with me.” I fold my hands together and duck my head down. Maggie smacks me.I stick my tongue out at her while I finish tying my shoes. I refuse to climb on the negativity train with her. It's never a good way to start class.
The door to the studio glides open and a sudden hush sweeps through the room, as if the oxygen has been sucked away. Alexa Damore has arrived–but she’s wearing street clothes–and she’s not alone.
Benjamin Stafford, Artistic Director of Manhattan Ballet Theater, also known as the man who holds our future in his hands, stands in the center of the room. From where I stand, the ambient light behind him illuminates the outline of his body, as if he's a living embodiment of a god. Then again, he is a god in the world of ballet. The silence is deafening as he slowly rotates around, gazing at each of us in turn. He flashes a brilliant smile and it’s all I can barely look at him. He's even larger in life than he is onstage with broad shoulders, chiseled features, dark, tousled hair, and blazing blue eyes. On any given day he’s something to look at, but the glowing outline thing further illustrates the glaring difference between him and everyone else in the room.
His eyes fall on me and my heart flutters in my ribcage. I immediately stand a little bit taller and suck in my gut. My breath gets shallower and tighter. I close my eyes and force myself to breath normally. Passing out in class is not the way I want to make an impression.
            I may not survive this class.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I am currently working on Dream, book #3 of the Indigo Ballet Series. It's an exciting installment to the series; we follow Indigo as she dances with a professional ballet company and tried to move gracefully through the challenges and surprises she faces.

I'm also working on audiobook versions of the series, which will be available later in the spring, through Audible. Audiobooks are a whole new way to share stories and lots of fun to put together.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I've been writing since I was a kid. I kept a diary; the kind with a small lock on it. Trust me, growing up in a house with three younger brothers who got into everything made this necessary. I also loved reading; I devoured books and the library was and still is a favorite place. It wasn't until high school, when my short story won first prize in the school literary contest (and a fifty dollar check!) that I began to think I might have a future as a writer.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I have a daily routine that's a remnant from my professional ballet days: after all of those years of morning ballet class, I still begin the day with exercise. It gets the blood and thoughts flowing, and my dog (Coco Chanel, a black standard poodle) lives for morning walks. I begin work after a short meditation and work straight through the day until I pick my daughter up from school. I also bring projects to work on during her afternoon practices. It's a good time to do things like sketching out ideas for books or blog posts.

In addition to writing, I give talks about themes I touch on in my books, like how to overcome self-doubt. It's fun visiting schools and ballet studios, and meeting young people. I like to share personal stories and offer insight. I still teach dance and yoga from time to time, by request.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Even though I'm a writer I'm a very visual person... probably because I worked as a commercial photographer for many years. Anytime I start work on a new book I create a huge collage of the characters and settings before I write a single word. This process makes the world of that book come alive for me; I look at it often, especially when I'm working on dialogue. Plus I love art projects!

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A ballet dancer, of course! My head was completely wrapped up in ballet–especially after I decided to teach myself how to pirouette. I practiced in the halls at school whenever I had a spare moment, and my mom had to constantly throw me out of the kitchen because she got tired of me practicing in there...but it was the only uncarpeted floor in the house with enough space to dance. Eventually I figured out how to do a double pirouette and that was all I wanted to do for the rest of my life.

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?
Close friends insist I have an obsession with high school, and they are probably right. I didn't go to a normal high school; I went to a performing arts high school with a bunch of models, actors, musicians, and dancers who needed a flexible schedule in order to pursue their careers. Sadly this meant we missed out on some of the fun stuff, like prom. I live it vicariously through my books, with real characters set in the real world. I like YA because it focuses on a time in life where huge change occurs. It's a dynamic and exciting time of life, a time to figure out who you want to be.


Thank you for being a guest on my blog!

It's been a pleasure, Lisa. Thanks for having me!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

Grier Cooper said...

Thanks so much for hosting HOPE today, Lisa!

Victoria Alexander said...

Really great post! I enjoyed reading it, thanks for sharing :)

James Robert said...

Thank you once again for the giveaway and have a fun Friday!

MomJane said...

What a fun and fascinating excerpt.

James Robert said...

Have an amazing fun filled Saturday and thank you for this giveaway

Mai T. said...

Do you have a specific writing style?

Ally Swanson said...

Excellent excerpt and interview! This book sounds like such an interesting and intriguing read. Looking forward to checking out this book.

James Robert said...

Happy Mother's Day to all the terrific moms out there and thank YOU for this giveaway

Ally Swanson said...

Where is your favorite spot to read?