Up to this Pointe by Jennifer Longo was definitely one of my favorite books I read this year (see my review here). The story turned out to be the perfect mix of some of my favorite things, like Antarctica and ballet, but I loved it for so many other reasons, too! It was one of those books I want to shove at everyone I see afterwards because it’s just such a touching and hopeful little gem of a story. And now Jennifer’s been kind enough to stop by my blog to share some of her thoughts from writing this book!
She had a plan. It went south.
Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station… in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.
Find it on Amazon & Goodreads
Jennifer Longo holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Acting from San Francisco State University and a Master of Fine Arts degree in Writing For Theatre from Humboldt State University. She is a two-time Irene Ryan Best Actor Award recipient and a Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival Best Full Length Script honoree for her play, FROZEN. After years of acting, playwriting, working as a literary assistant at San Francisco’s Magic Theatre, then as an elementary school librarian, Jennifer told the occasional story at San Francisco’s Porch Light Storytelling Series and decided at last to face her fear of prose and actually write some. Her debut novel, SIX FEET OVER IT (Random House Books) received starred reviews from Kirkus and The Bulletin, and was selected as a VOYA Perfect Ten and an Indies Introduce New Voices title. Jen’s second novel, UP TO THIS POINTE (Random House Books) published January 2016, was selected as a Winter 2016 Indies Next title and received starred reviews from The Bulletin and Shelf Awareness. A California native and recent San Francisco transplant, Jennifer now lives with her husband and daughter on an island near Seattle, Washington and her every hour is consumed by writing, running marathons, taking her kid to ballet class eleven thousand times each week and reading every book she can get her hands on.
Follow Jennifer: Twitter | Website | Goodreads
• Which scene was the most fun to write?
I think I really love the scene involving a hair cut in Antarctica (Trying not to spoil in case someone hasn’t read yet!) I loved writing the dialogue between three very different characters, from three very different lives, all together in this one moment of the person whose hair is getting cut. It was a challenge to make their voices unique, and yet, they have the common language of being winter residents of Antarctica, and McMurdo specifically. It was also fun to write because it’s such a turning point in the emotional reconstruction for the haircut recipient’s life. It’s so freeing, and unintentionally symbolic on the character’s part – I love it! Also, it’s just hilarious that there are professional hair cutters in Antarctica, that research was so fun!
• Your story felt very real — was any of it pulled from your own experiences?
Thank you so much! A lot of the ballet was from my own ten years of living and breathing ballet, from ages 8 to 18, the class stuff – I lived in San Francisco for twenty years, and the places described are all my favorites in that gorgeous city. The Antarctica stuff was all research, I’ve never been though I have been obsessed for years with the geography and animal life on Antarctica, with the story of the Age Of Exploration, and with my dream of Wintering Over. I’ve applied for two NSF grants to go there to write, and I’ll keep applying – just as Shackleton would do.
• Who would you cast in a movie adaptation of Up to this Pointe?
I love this question! Okay, here’s some of my dream cast:
- Leigh: Julia Goldani Tellas. She’s a dancer and actress featured in Amy Sherman Palladino’s sadly cancelled Bunheads and she’s amazing.
- Owen: Harry Shum Jr. Even though he’s too old at 35, he was so charming on Glee, and superficially I can say he’s just gorgeous.
- Kate: Kiersey Clemmons. She was amazing in Dope. Might be too young, but she’s pretty great.
- Aiden: Colin O’Donoghue. I saw him in one scene on The Tudors. Time machine to age him down and holy moly.
• What are a few of your all-time favorite books?
Oh my gosh, again – best question ever.
- The Art Of Memoir by Mary Karr
- Tinkers by Paul Harding
- Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowel
- Happy To Be Here by Garrison Keillor
- Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris
• Any advice to beginning authors looking to be published?
Yes! If someone is looking to be published, and this may sound ridiculous, but you should only be thinking about it if you’ve written a book. Worrying about or planning how to get published is something to consider only after the writing has happened, and after some editing and revision to the best of your ability. Then and only then. Otherwise, any thinking on the subject is a pointless waste of time. I talk to so many people who have a ton of anxiety about the publishing process, they’ll agonize and worry and then it turns out – they haven’t even written a book yet. That’s putting the cart before the horse, and the two (Writing/publishing) have virtually nothing to do with one another, is what I say. Write the book, for no other reason than you are compelled to write the book. Don’t worry about industry standards or what’s hot right now, or trying to make something market-able. That’s the publisher’s job, and the editor’s job, and they will do their job in helping you shape the book to those ends when you get a contract. But you’ll never get a contract if you have nothing written. See? Seems really obvious, but it bears repeating. Just write. Write the story and worry about the publishing part later, which by the way, there’s nothing to worry about at all. You just submit the book, write another while you wait, accept the rejections, submit again, keep writing, repeat. There’s no ‘trick’, there is no magic bullet. Just write. If you want to be published, your job is to write. And read. And then write some more. Publishing will not make you rich or famous, the odds are astronomically low that those things will happen. Sharing a book you’ve written that you think people will love should be the only motivation for seeking publication, because it is the only true way to stay motivated though the submission process.
Thanks so much for sharing and congratulations on Up to this Pointe!