â€śI know why youâ€™re here.â€ť
The dance teacher approached me as she spoke. She was a petite woman, but her
and the length of her stride made her appear far taller. It was only when she
directly in front of me that I realized she couldnâ€™t have topped five-foot-two.
Despite my sway back stance, I towered over her.
â€śI know why youâ€™re here,â€ť she repeated, smiling in that satisfied way people
when theyâ€™ve guessed something important. Something secret.
How could she know that I was a writer? Or, that I intended to research ballet
the novel that I was working on? Iâ€™d barely decided myself.
I tucked my hair behind my ears, a nervous habit if there ever was one, and
my appeal for her to accept me into her adult ballet classâ€”the one populated by
a-dozen willowy women, pulling limbs to impossible angles and parted in splits
floor before me. I prepared for her to say no. These people were former
ex-college performers, some ex-professionals. Iâ€™d never even taken toddler
The dance teacher pressed a palm against my stomach. â€śYouâ€™re here about this
marshmallow,â€ť she said, her voice accented by her native language, maybe
Korean. â€śYou had babies. Now you canâ€™t get rid of this belly.â€ť
She pressed again on what Iâ€™d thought, until moments ago, was a flat stomach.
had a three-year-old and a two-year-old at home. But Iâ€™d long returned to my
pregnancy weight. Iâ€™d done sit-ups. I fit into my skinny jeans.
â€śDonâ€™t worry,â€ť she smiled again, her dark brown eyes laughing. â€śYou are a
now.â€ť She slapped my abdomen. â€śBut I will make you a rock.â€ť
My goal wasnâ€™t to be a rock. After writing a novel that had secured me an
didnâ€™t sell, I was determined that my next book land a publisher.
As a relatively new mother, I wanted to write a suspense story filled with
my someday- teenage daughters: cyber-bullying, omnipresent cell phone cameras
poor, pubescent decisions, peer pressure, academic competition, body images
wanted the tale to take place at a boarding school, but I feared scenes in a
classroom would get boring. Setting the action during extracurricular dance
offered a solution. Plus, dance would heighten the competition between my
pushing them to their physical limits in the kind of zero-sum game that most
teenagers are not emotionally equipped to handle.
The dance set-up was perfect. The only problem? I possessed only a fans
of what it took to be a dancer.
Write What You Know. Itâ€™s the tried and true mantra. Ex-cops write detective
Journalists write investigative reporter saves the day tales. My trade was
reporting, but I didnâ€™t want to pen a financial crime thrillerâ€”at least not
children consumed my attention. I wanted to use my concerns for them as
As for writing what I knew, Iâ€™d been a teenage girl, Iâ€™d gone to Princeton
University, so I understood a bit about competitive, academic environments.
didnâ€™t know was dance.
For the next year, I took ballet two-to-three times a week and wrote. The lingo
classes became part of the novelâ€™s vernacular. The pain of stretching until I
my legs might pop off my body like a broken Barbie doll is something I became
familiar with and wrote about. I talked to ex-ballerinas in the class and used
experiences with auditions to add realism to my narrative.
sold to Crooked Lane Books. I continued to take ballet as I went through the
process, adding new details from my experience performing in the schoolâ€™s
recital. Iâ€™m convinced that, without all the research, the scenes wouldnâ€™t have
contained the required realism to entice a publisher.
The novel came out November 10, and I no longer take ballet.
The classes did tighten my stomach muscles and improve my flexibility. More
importantly, however, they proved something that will help inform all my other
You donâ€™t have to know anything about the subject youâ€™re writing, as long as
willing to learn.
Have you ever pushed yourself outside your comfort zome to learn? Leave a
below for a chance to win a copy of DARK TURNS.
Catherine "Cate" Holahan is an award-winning journalist and former television
Her articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on
sites for CBS, MSN Money, NorthJersey.com, BusinessWeek.com, and CNBC. Her
fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine
by the writer's group of American Mensa. She lives in New Jersey with her
two daughters, ages 5 and 3, and dog Westley.
DARK TURNS is her first novel.
Website | Facebook | Twitter
Nia Washington is an incredible ballerina. She fought her way up from the
and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken
derailed her career. Taking a temporary job at an elite boarding school in
Connecticut was supposed to give her time to nurse both body and soul. It was
supposed to be a safe place to launch a triumphant comeback. It is anything
Shortly after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the
a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. Itâ€™s not long before
drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia
the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers,
wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.
A stunning and suspenseful tale of passion and betrayal, Cate Holahan's Dark
will take readers deep into the mind of a murderer and the woman who must put
to the killing.
14 comments posted.
Don't think I've pushed myself outside my comfort zone just to learn. I love learning but I'm also wary of strangers and new situations and tend to stay away from doing anything drastic.
(Lisa L. 11:43am November 7, 2015)
Yes , I push myself out of my comfort zone lots of times and days , just by going places and being around some people that I had rather not be around . I have also learned that once I push myself to go , that I enjoyed myself and was glad I went and made some new friends . So I do push myself a lot at different things.
(Joan Thrasher 11:13am November 17, 2015)
Yes, I went back to school at age 50. I had been out of school for 30 years so it was like visiting a foreign land.
(Nancy Marcho 1:00pm November 18, 2015)
Yes. I took a ballroom dancing class in college with a friend and afraid because I am not graceful but it was fun.
(Pam Howell 9:25am November 19, 2015)
I've never thought about it before, but, yes, there have been times I've pushed myself out of my comfort zone. Speaking in front of an audience is tops on the list.
(Anna Speed 12:52pm November 19, 2015)
I don't really venture out of my comfort zone. I like to stay where I feel safe.
(Lily Shah 2:10pm November 19, 2015)