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By Nate Kenyon

Ever feel like someone’s watching you? Me, too. But lately it’s been happening in my room.

When I’m alone.

A friend posted a video of me dancing online, and now I’m no longer Alicia Ruffino. I’m dancergirl. And suddenly it’s like me against the world—everyone’s got opinions.

My admirers want more, the haters hate, my best friend Jacy—even he’s acting weird. And some stalker isn’t content to just watch anymore.

Ali. Dancergirl. Whatever you know me as, however you’ve seen me online, I’ve trained my whole life to be the best dancer I can be. But if someone watching has their way, I could lose way more than just my love of dancing. I could lose my life.

I recently had the opportunity to interview author Carol Tanzman for TheBigThrill, where we discussed her latest novel, DANCERGIRL, the writing life, and more:

What interests you the most about writing for young adults?

Teen lives are so dramatic! They are passionate about so many things; they are in the midst of first loves and first hurts, as well as personal and serious crisis at times. It’s a rich writing field to mine.

Do you have a particularly interesting or gratifying story about a fan who reached out to you?

Yes. I met Kristin, a book blogger who wrote a review of DANCERGIRL. She is a Latina woman and was thrilled that my main character, Alicia, is bi-racial. She came down from the Bronx to an event I did when I was in NYC in December and she expressed just how much the book meant to her. It was extremely gratifying.

Why thrillers?

I love to read them personally and I felt that there was room in YA literature for thrillers. It’s not as saturated as paranormal romance, let’s say. It’s also so much fun to write!

Are you able to use experiences from your “regular” life in theater for the worlds you create on the page?

Absolutely. Although I’m a theatre director, I took dance for actors in college so I know a bit about the world. Many aspects of performing are the same in dance and theatre: auditioning, performance nerves, etc. so I was able to translate my theatre experience to dance.

Do you tend to do a lot of research for your novels?

I do. I used to live in Brooklyn and still have family there. All during the writing of the series, I will go on “location scouting” expeditions and take photos so I can write scenes with authenticity. I also visited several dance studios and then had a dancer friend “vet” the manuscript so every dance scene is correct.

What’s your favorite character you’ve ever created?

Like a mother, I love them all! In DANCERGIRL, however, Charlie, the film geek, ended up surprising me the most.

Tell us more about your latest novel, DANCERGIRL. Is the second book, CIRCLE OF SILENCE, a sequel, or a standalone? How do the books “link?”

They are both tense, contemporary thrillers. CIRCLE OF SILENCE is a standalone– but it’s linked to dancergirl in that it takes place at the same high school, fictional WiHi, in BrooklynHeights. There is a scene in Dancergirl in which the main character of CIRCLE OF SILENCE first appears. Some dancergirl characters have minor “appearances” in CIRCLE OF SILENCE. They also link in that each main character is a teen who is passionate about something. In CIRCLE OF SILENCE, the main character is on the Campus News Team. Weird objects start showing up at school. While investigating the story, Valerie and her crew discover that things are not what they seem–and that danger lurks behind every corner.

Do you have your own favorite writers or books?

Of course. I love Michael Connelly and Harlan Coben. For YA thriller writers, the nine writers in my group blog, ADR3NALIN3, are all fantastic (including Wendy Corsi Staub, Jordan Dane, Jennifer Archer, Michelle Gagnon, Ilsa J. Bick, A.G. Howard, Brett Battles, Chris Grabenstein, Dan Haring).


Carol M. Tanzman is a young adult author. Her first novel, THE SHADOW PLACE, was an ALA Quick Pick selection, as well as a NCTE ALAN Best Book. DANCERGIRL is the first in the WiHI series of linked books. The second book, CIRCLE OF SILENCE publishes in Aug., 2012. She is also an award-winning theatre director and a nationally recognized arts educator.

To learn more about Carol, please visit her website.

Nate Kenyon
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