It’s hard to be a parent these days, especially when every other headline presents another social media horror story. Sure, you talk to your kids about cyber-safety but how else to get the message across?
Savvy parents will make sure that one of this year’s stocking stuffers is dancergirl--the latest novel from Mount Washington resident Carol Tanzman.
A Teen Protagonist with Passion
Tanzman's latest young adult novel features Ali Ruffino, a teenage dancer who becomes the target of a stalker after a friend posts a video online of her dancing at a party. Tanzman weaves the warning into a tense thriller that’s involving, realistic and anything but preachy.
Tanzman didn’t set out to write a cautionary tale. “A lot of [young adult] authors write about disenfranchised teens and do a fantastic job,” says Tanzman. “I wanted to write about a teen who was passionate about something and who ended up in a scary situation after events spiraled out of control through no fault of her own."
Based On a True Story
“My voice is in the [young adult] genre,” says Tanzman, who has a daughter and a son in their twenties. "I would say in some ways the character sounds a lot like my daughter." However, the story was actually inspired by the experience of a friend’s daughter in Brooklyn Heights where dancergirl takes place.
Tanzman used some details from the real-life stalker scare but says she changed a lot. “I actually did a lot of research on different kinds of stalkers,” adds Tanzman, “and used that as a template for the character in dancergirl.”
Real Deal Dance World
One big change was the arts milieu. The real-life inspiration for Ali Ruffino is also in the arts but Tanzman “changed the art form to dance to make it more visual.” The dance world also allowed Tanzman, an award-winning theater director and nationally recognized arts educator, to draw on her own experience. “Because of my theater background, I’ve worked with a lot of dancers and mimes,” says Tanzman, whose own dance credits include a role as a dancing poppy in a production of the Wizard of Oz that toured to the Soviet Union and an abstract chicken in a New England mime company.
Tanzman also consulted with Nora Rohman--who grew up in Mount Washington and is a former company member of the California Theatrical Ballet, where she also taught. Rohman feels that “dancergirl is more a book about social media than it is about dance world." However, the former dance major at Canada’s Concordia University says that, “for people who are in the know, [Tanzman] “gets” the dance world--the competitiveness, the comparative-ness, the hyper-awareness of what everyone’s strength and weakness is compared to your own.”
Up Next – Circle of Silence
Tanzman’s fans will be excited to learn that the author is already hard at work on Circle of Silence, the second book in her series about teens in the arts. Due out in August 2012, Circle of Silence is set in the same Brooklyn Heights high school as dancergirl. Ruffino even makes a cameo. Also a suspenseful drama, the Circle of Silence protagonist is a campus news reporter; Tanzman researched the book at nearby Marshall High School in Los Feliz, which at the time had a T.V. production class.
A Good Time to be a Young Adult Author
Tanzman’s first young adult book, The Shadow Place, was on ALA’s Quick Pick List of Recommended Books, the National Council of Teachers of English ALAN List of Best Books and the California Collection for both Middle and Senior High Schools.
Tanzman notes that in the five years since The Shadow Place was published, the YA market has become a lot more crowded but says the demographic has widened as well. “Adults are now happily reading [young adult literature] even if they’re maybe reading secretly! The plots are more exciting and imaginative.”
“[Young Adult] novels,” says Tanzman, “are holding their own as literature.”
Join Carol Tanzman for the L.A. launch of "dancergirl" this Saturdaay, December 3rd, from 4:00 - 6:00 p.m at CurveLineSpace, 1577 Colorado Boulevard, LA 90041.
Tanzman promises, "Performance by teen actress/dancer Sarah Bebb; B&W cookies specially baked by Vito of Eagle Rock Italian Bakery, Skylights Books, and possibly, egg creams and special musical guest!"