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Cate Holahan | Write What You Learn


Dark Turns
Cate Holahan

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November 2015
On Sale: November 10, 2015
Featuring: Nia Washington
ISBN: 1629531936
EAN: 9781629531939
Kindle: B015ELRRLO
Hardcover / e-Book
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Also by Cate Holahan:
Her Three Lives, April 2021
Add to review list
One Little Secret, July 2019
Lies She Told, July 2018
Lies She Told, September 2017

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“I know why you’re here.”

The dance teacher approached me as she spoke. She was a petite woman, but her posture and the length of her stride made her appear far taller. It was only when she stood directly in front of me that I realized she couldn’t have topped five-foot-two. Despite my sway back stance, I towered over her.

“I know why you’re here,” she repeated, smiling in that satisfied way people have when they’ve guessed something important. Something secret.

How could she know that I was a writer? Or, that I intended to research ballet for the novel that I was working on? I’d barely decided myself.

I tucked my hair behind my ears, a nervous habit if there ever was one, and readied my appeal for her to accept me into her adult ballet class—the one populated by half- a-dozen willowy women, pulling limbs to impossible angles and parted in splits on the floor before me. I prepared for her to say no. These people were former dancers, some ex-college performers, some ex-professionals. I’d never even taken toddler ballet.

The dance teacher pressed a palm against my stomach. “You’re here about this marshmallow,” she said, her voice accented by her native language, maybe Mandarin or Korean. “You had babies. Now you can’t get rid of this belly.”

She pressed again on what I’d thought, until moments ago, was a flat stomach. Sure, I had a three-year-old and a two-year-old at home. But I’d long returned to my pre- pregnancy weight. I’d done sit-ups. I fit into my skinny jeans.

“Don’t worry,” she smiled again, her dark brown eyes laughing. “You are a marshmallow now.” She slapped my abdomen. “But I will make you a rock.”

My goal wasn’t to be a rock. After writing a novel that had secured me an agent, but didn’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 fears for my someday- teenage daughters: cyber-bullying, omnipresent cell phone cameras and poor, pubescent decisions, peer pressure, academic competition, body images issues. I 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 classes offered a solution. Plus, dance would heighten the competition between my characters 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 appreciation of what it took to be a dancer.

Write What You Know. It’s the tried and true mantra. Ex-cops write detective stories. Journalists write investigative reporter saves the day tales. My trade was business reporting, but I didn’t want to pen a financial crime thriller—at least not yet. My children consumed my attention. I wanted to use my concerns for them as creative fodder.

As for writing what I knew, I’d been a teenage girl, I’d gone to Princeton University, so I understood a bit about competitive, academic environments. What I didn’t know was dance.

For the next year, I took ballet two-to-three times a week and wrote. The lingo in classes became part of the novel’s vernacular. The pain of stretching until I thought 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 their experiences with auditions to add realism to my narrative.

DARK TURNS sold to Crooked Lane Books. I continued to take ballet as I went through the editing process, adding new details from my experience performing in the school’s annual recital. I’m convinced that, without all the research, the scenes wouldn’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 books. You don’t have to know anything about the subject you’re writing, as long as you’re willing to learn.

Giveaway

Have you ever pushed yourself outside your comfort zome to learn? Leave a comment below for a chance to win a copy of DARK TURNS.

About Cate Holahan

Catherine "Cate" Holahan is an award-winning journalist and former television producer.

Her articles have appeared in BusinessWeek, The Boston Globe, The Record and on web sites for CBS, MSN Money, NorthJersey.com, BusinessWeek.com, and CNBC. Her short fiction won first place in the 19th annual Calliope competition, a magazine published by the writer's group of American Mensa. She lives in New Jersey with her husband, two daughters, ages 5 and 3, and dog Westley.

DARK TURNS is her first novel.

Website | Facebook | Twitter

About DARK TURNS

Nia Washington is an incredible ballerina. She fought her way up from the streets and was nearing the pinnacle of her profession when an injury and a broken heart 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 but.

Shortly after she arrives at the beautiful lakeside campus, she discovers the body of a murdered student, and her life takes a truly dark turn. It’s not long before she is drawn into a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse with a ruthless killer. And Nia isn't the only target. She must use all of her street smarts to protect her dancers, save a wrongfully accused student, and rescue the man she loves.

A stunning and suspenseful tale of passion and betrayal, Cate Holahan's Dark Turns will take readers deep into the mind of a murderer and the woman who must put an end to the killing.

 

 

Comments

14 comments posted.

Re: Cate Holahan | Write What You Learn

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)

To become a good knitter, there are always new stitches and
ways of doing things that take you out of your comfort zone.
If you want to be better at your craft, you usually try to
learn how to learn how to do these things. In most cases,
you find out that they usually weren't as bad as they seemed,
once you get started. There are still projects that I still
won't attempt, but I've gotten much braver with my projects,
and don't know what took me so long to get my nerve up. If
you want to do something bad enough, you'll learn how to do
it.
(Peggy Roberson 6:52am November 16, 2015)

yes, when I decided to go back to work after being home for 14 years
(Nicole Bouchey 8:39pm November 16, 2015)

Funny that, I have pushed myself out of my comfort zone and
ended up learning a great deal for example in travelling.
However, I have not pushed myself out of my comfort zone
with the specific intention to learn something.
(G. Bisbjerg 2:05am November 17, 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)

OH, Your book sounds like a really GOOOOOD read .
(Joan Thrasher 11:15am November 17, 2015)

yes, I have had to do that in life since I had no choice and
became stronger and more versatile.
(Sharon Berger 5:01pm November 17, 2015)

I have ... public speaking to extremely large crowds ... I
did it and while it's still not comfortable to do, I know I
can do it!
(Lisa Miller 9:32am November 18, 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 HAD TO SPEAK IN FRONT OF OVER 500 PEOPLE.
(Ron Frampton 1:17pm November 18, 2015)

Yes, I pushed myself to take a plane when I was afraid of flying.
(Beatrice Pierre 9:26pm 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)

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