Friday, May 15, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Terez Rose


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, Terez.  Welcome to The Gal.  Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Terez Rose:
I'm a writer, former ballet dancer, former sales professional, former Peace Corps Volunteer, former hotel industry employee.  Lots of formers.  My husband and I used to travel extensively but now were' doing the settled family thing with our son, living on three acres in the Santa Cruz Mountains.  Things here tend to be chaotic and sloppy, because I'd much rather be tucked away in my office, writing, writing, writing (or reading).  I'm an exercise junkie too, and among other things, I'm back in the ballet studio as an adult student.  I love having this beautiful thing back in my life, only now without the angst of "am I good enough?" that dogged me (and every young person who dances and lives for it) through my younger years.  Writing about ballet dancers and their struggles has been huge fun, and utterly engrossing.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

Terez Rose:
  1. I speak fluent French from having lived in Africa for two years in the Peace Corps.
  2. I was never a "good" reader growing up.  I avoided the classics and "good" writers and instead devoured romance novels, the super-thick period romance paperback kind.
  3. I am a super-healthy eater with a closet Taco Bell addiction (which I blame on having a teen son).
  4. I can't have enough fuzzy micro-fleece blankets.  There are more blankets in my house than I or my visitors will ever use, and yet, every time I go to Ross or T.J. Maxx, there I am, in the fleece blanket section, a flutter of anticipation in my heart.
  5. I was a theater major in college.  I was sure I was destined to be The Next Great Thing on the silver screen.
The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

Terez Rose:
Like, those little kid books?  Fun with Dick and Jane?  Or the later childhood ones?  I remember chancing upon Little House in the Big Woods when I was quite young, and being utterly enchanted, especially by the fact that it was a series.  I felt the same way about The Happy Hollisters collection.  Someone bequeathed the whole set to our family and I was in kid heaven for the whole summer.  Not sure my older siblings ever read them.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

Terez Rose:
I tend to read a handful of books at a time.  At least one in each room.  Currently I'm reading Apollo's Angels by Jennifer Homans; Echoes by Mauve Binchy; Shut Up About Your Perfect Kid by Gina Gallagher and Patricia Konjoian; Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar; and Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.  How's that for a mix?  Just finished Jane Smiley's Some Luck, which I absolutely loved.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

Terez Rose:
As a kid, writing essays was pretty much effortless.  Or writing in general.  I'm a thinkaholic since birth.  I tend to be very intense, with high emotions that really gnaw at me unless I find a depository.  Writing has just always felt so good, like therapy.  It's a compulsion.  When I was younger I wrote mostly nonfiction.  The few short stories and poems I attempted where ghastly.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

Terez Rose:
I've got a lovely in-home office.  It's the perfect blend of work environment and homey comfort.  My alarm clock goes off at 4am (okay, so I don't get out of bed until 4:28, though) and I make myself a cup of tea and trot happily off to that special room.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

Terez Rose:
Not really.  Always need to have that cup of tea by my side in the morning.  I'll allow myself a few minutes of noodling around, checking email, weather, etc.  But then, it's non-internet writing time.  These days I have to set a timer so that I focus and stay away from the cyberworld, if only for thirty minutes at a time.  Discipline in this department is crucial; I can lose all my writer's momentum if I stray and "check just one more thing" online.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

Terez Rose:
As a writer, my greatest inspiration was the work of Bill Bryson, surprisingly.  I mean, he writes nonfiction, and here I am, producing novels.  But when I read his travel book Neither Here Nor There (followed quickly by The Lost Continent and A Walk in the Woods), I was just floored at how entertaining it was, how human and delightfully self-deprecating.  What visceral details he employed.  At the time, I was just writing nonfiction; not really "writing" at all.  But reading this, something in me seemed to wake up.  I realized, 'THAT'S what I want to do.  Write to inform and entertain at the same time.  Show myself through my language.'  It helped that my husband and I were living as expatriates in London at the time.  I got to travel and write, travel and write.  What a great life.  In terms of having the same "wow!!" reaction from a novel, it would be John Dalton's Heaven Lake.  IT landed on my lap at the absolute perfect time.  We were back in the States, I was missing my travel days, I'd started writing my first novel, about a ballet dancer who goes off to Africa and gets into mess after mess, and here was Heaven Lake, this gorgeous, accessible, literary fiction novel with fascinating parallels to my own story, my own experience (okay, so it turns out we both headed off, post college, to teach English as a foreign language in a foreign country, and our respective novels reflected that).  Dalton's writing was sublime, superior to all I'd read before (no offense to the highly entertaining, eloquent Mr. Bryson) and I couldn't get enough of it.  I think every page in the book was dog-eared with highlighted lines that had made me sigh in satisfaction.  It was another moment of 'THAT'S what I want to do.'  Well.  John Dalton's talent is far, far superior to mine.  But to this day, over a decade later, I still see his novel as the kind of writing I'd most like to emulate.  Oh, and any fiction by Meg Wolitzer.  Absolutely love her writer's voice.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

Terez Rose:
Reviews.  I love my part-time job as a dance reviewer (free press tickets to the ballet!) but squeezing a night's worth of impressions into 800 succinct words, and quickly, requires a journalist's sensibility. No jokes, no personal digressions, no casual chit-chat style.  Talk about making me work hard at something I'm not good at!  But it's a great practice for my craft, it keeps me inside the dance world, and it keeps me humble about my writing abilities.  I think any writer who continually focuses on what they're good at, without stepping out of that comfort zone, is doing themselves and their craft a disservice.  But I suppose the same could be said for anyone, in any pursuit.  You grow from doing the hard stuff.  From working on what you're not good at.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

Terez Rose:
Alice is a former dancer, with some other experiences tucked under her belt, so I'd say I'm most like Alice.  But unlike her, I had a choice about stopping ballet; I joined the Peace Corps upon graduating from college.  Alice lost her mother, as I have, although her loss took place when she was only ten, which I can't imagine.  You know, now that I think of it, Alice and I aren't all that much alike.  And I consider this to be a good thing.  When a writer over-identifies with one character, the writing becomes sort of uneven, the other characters less fleshed out.  What I aim for, in the end, is to have there be something within each character that I can deeply identify with, so that I can have access to their psyche, so to speak, and have their words and actions come from that place.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

Terez Rose:
I like women's inner journeys, I like writing about women on the cusp of learning about their inner journey and workings.  I like sex scenes (but not overwhelming or distasteful stuff).  Same thing with romance.  Women's fiction feels like the perfect place for me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different from others out there in this genre?

Terez Rose:
I have a easy-to-read conversational style to my writer's voice.  What I lack in poetry, I make up for in bawdy, frank observations about human nature.  That said, I'm not afraid to plumb the darker depths of human nature, either.  When something makes me ache, personally, I want to examine that, elaborate on it, weave it into my work.  I consider my writing to be ideal when something in it has made the reader chuckle, grow misty-eyed, nod in commiseration.  My favorite compliment is when a reader tells me, "That's exactly how I feel, except that I didn't know how to put it into words."

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your "trunk"?  (Everyone has a book or project, which doesn't necessarily have to be book related, that they have put aside for a 'rainy day' or for when they have extra time.  Do you have one?)

Terez Rose:
I created my own publishing company for the Ballet Theatre Chronicles books.  I blog on The Classical Girl, so I called this company Classical Girl Press.  Whoa.  The possibilities for the future there are endless.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

Terez Rose:
Outside the Limelight, Book 2 of the Ballet Theatre Chronicles, will be out in the fall.  I'm hoping for a November 10th publication date, but we'll see.  And then it will be time to pick up novel 3, which is actually my novel 1, Black Ivory Tango.  Romance, sex, a dollop of dance, set in Africa.  Great fun.  Can't wait to get back to revising it, actually.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, Terez.  It was great having you.  And keep us updated on book #2.  I would love to have you back again for that one. :)


About the book:
Ballet Theatre Chronicles 1: Off Balance

Genere: Women's Fiction (YA crossover)
Publisher: Classical Girl Press
Publication date: 5.10.2015
Pages: 297

Alice thinks she's accepted the loss of her ballet career, injury having forced her to trade in pointe shoes onstage for spreadsheets upstairs.  That is, until the day Alice's boss asks her to befriend Lana, a pretty new company member he's got his eye on.  Lana represents all Alice has lost, not just as a ballet dancer, but as a motherless daughter.  It's pain she's kept hidden, even from herself, as every good ballet dancer knows to do.
            Lana, lonely and unmoored, desperately needs some help, and her mother, back home, vows eternal support.  But when Lana begins to profit from Alice's advice and help,  her mother's constant attention curdles into something more sinister.
            Together, both women must embark on a journey of painful rediscoveries, not just about career opportunities won and lost, but the mothers they thought they knew.
            Off Balance takes the reader beyond the glitter of the stage to expose the sweat and struggle, amid the mandate to sustain the illusion at all costs.


About the author:
Terez Mertes Rose is a writer and former ballet dancer whose work has appeared in the Crab Orchard Review, Women Who Eat (Seal Press), A Woman's Europe (Travelers' Tales), the Philadelphia Inquirer and the San Jose Mercury News.  She reviews dance performances for Bachtrack.com and blogs about ballet and classical music at The Classical Girl.  She makes her home in the Santa Cruz Mountains with her husband, son and too many cats.  She loves good food, good wine, and a good (but not too hard) adult ballet class.   She also publishes under the name Terez Rose.

No comments: