Today we’re talking to Brandy Colbert, author of POINTE. You guys. You guys. This book blew me away. It’s powerful in a way that left me an emotional mess for days after I read it (but in a good way). You need to check this one out. Trust.
Theo is better now.
She’s eating again, dating guys who are almost appropriate, and well on her way to becoming an elite ballet dancer. But when her oldest friend, Donovan, returns home after spending four long years with his kidnapper, Theo starts reliving memories about his abduction—and his abductor.
Donovan isn’t talking about what happened, and even though Theo knows she didn’t do anything wrong, telling the truth would put everything she’s been living for at risk. But keeping quiet might be worse.
Thanks for joining us today, Brandy! I guess the million dollar question is where did the inspiration for POINTE come from?
I’ve always been interested in kidnapping stories. When I was young, I saw a TV movie called I Know My First Name Is Steven, which was based on a true story from the ’70s/’80s. I thought about it often, and followed the case and others like it for years. I’d always wanted to write a story about a kidnapping, but there are already so many well-done books from the victim’s point of view, so I wanted to explore what happens to the friend of the abducted child, especially if that abducted friend returns someday. The ballet came later, then my brilliant editor helped me weave it all together into a coherent story.
Speaking of ballet, POINTE’s main character, Theo, is an elite dancer, and the level of detail with which you describe Theo’s world is impressive. Do you come from a dance background yourself or was this a product of a good deal of research?
Thank you! I’m so glad to hear that, because it’s sometimes difficult to translate something you love to the page. Growing up, I took eight years of tap lessons, and several years of jazz, and I was on my high school’s dance team. I’m more of a spectator when it comes to ballet, and have taken the majority of my ballet classes from college on, so that did require a good amount of research. When writing about a performing art, you’re trying to balance that line between being too technical and conveying the beauty of the art. (But it was also a great excuse to watch my favorite dance movies and clips, so it’s honestly the best research I can think of.)
What I love most about this book is its almost blunt sense of realism—it’s gritty, it’s raw, and it’s so believable. It does deal with several pretty tough subjects. Was it a hard book to write, emotionally? What was the most difficult part about writing it? Conversely, the easiest part?
You know, for this book, I think I was able to remove myself from from the material while writing. There were definitely some tough parts that made me step away from the computer at times—particularly the flashback scenes, with Donovan and at the abandoned park—but for the most part, I was able to move forward without getting too emotionally invested at the time. I think part of that is also related to Theo’s character. She pushes aside everything that’s happened to her so she can focus on her dance, and so it didn’t actually feel like these really dark, intense situations were going down, even as I was writing them. As for the easiest, the scenes set at school and the parties came pretty easily, which probably says a lot about why I enjoy writing young adult books.
What was your path to publication like?
Long. I started writing for publication in 2006, and queried my first book the next year. I got an agent with that book, but it wasn’t the right fit, so we cut ties. I wrote two more books that didn’t go anywhere, but I could tell from the agent feedback that I was getting better, so I was pretty hopeful when I started querying POINTE. I signed with my agent in 2011, we sold to my editor about three weeks after going on submission, and we worked on the book for quite a while to get it right. Publishing can seem to take forever, but looking back, I wouldn’t change any part of my journey.
That’s quite a journey, and I’m so glad it all worked out in the end and that the world gets to read POINTE. (Have I mentioned how much I love your book?) Ok, one last question: What 2 or 3 books inspired you as a kid?
Ooh, great question! I read just about anything I could get my hands on as a kid, but two that stick out to me are: A LITTLE PRINCESS by Frances Hodgson Burnett, and SIXTH GRADE CAN REALLY KILL YOU by Barthe DeClements. I loved the classics for their language and the way you felt truly transported to another world. DeClements’ books were so realistic to me, and introduced me to developed characters and fantastic stories told through spare prose.
Thanks so much for having me!
And thanks so much to Brandy for joining us! You find out more about Brandy and POINTE on her website or on Twitter or Goodreads.
Brandy Colbert was born and raised in the Missouri Ozarks, has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism, and has worked as an editor for several national magazines. She lives and writes in Los Angeles. Her first novel, POINTE, will be published by Penguin on April 10, 2014.
|Meredith McCardle is a recovered lawyer who lives in South Florida with her husband and two young daughters. Like her main character, she has a fondness for strong coffee, comfortable pants, and jumping to the wrong conclusions. Unlike her main character, she cannot travel through time. Sadly. Her debut, THE EIGHTH GUARDIAN, will be published by Skyscape/Amazon Children’s in Spring 2014. You can find her on Twitter.