BRIGHT BURNING STARS
by A.K. SMALL
“Bright Burning Stars is the compulsively readable story. I was breathless and battling tears up until the very last stunning turns onstage and beyond. A dazzling, heart-wrenching debut.” — Nova Ren Suma, #1 New York Times bestselling author of A Room Away from the Wolves
“The fascinating, competitive ballet world may get the YA novel it deserves with Bright Burning Stars…Pitched as an immersive, propulsive story into the world of ballet, Bright Burning Stars is also notable for the way it tackles sensitive topics such as mental illness and eating disorders.” — EntertainmentWeekly.com
As a young ballerina in Paris, young adult novelist A. K. Small studied at the famous Académie Chaptal and later danced with companies across the US.
Inspired by the dancers from her childhood, Small weaves a vivid story of a fiercely competitive female friendship in her dazzling debut, Bright Burning Stars (Publication Date: May 21, 2019; $17.95). Following two teens fighting for center stage and a spot in the Opera’s prestigious corps de ballet, this page-turning novel explores the lengths it takes to turn talent into a career. A gifted new writer, Small brings the reader into the passionate world of ballet all while telling an engrossing story of female friendship.
Kate and Marine have trained since childhood at the Paris Opera Ballet School where they formed an intense bond after respective family tragedies. Their friendship seems unshakeable until their final year when only one girl can be selected for a place in the Opera’s company. The physically demanding competition takes an emotional toll, and their support for each other starts to crumble. Marine’s eating disorder begins to control her life as she consumes less and dances more, and Kate discovers the depths of depression and the highs of first love as she falls for the school heartthrob—who also happens to be Marine’s dance partner.
1. How did you write BRIGHT BURNING STARS? All at once or did you outline the story?
I wrote it all at once but multiple times! I’m trying to learn how to outline. Man, is it hard. My brain goes to the creative before the analytical.
2. What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating your characters? Which of your characters do you most identify with, and why?
I think that the most surprising aspect of character building is that it took me years to understand and relate to Kate. I had to spend a long time with her before she finally clicked on the page. I identify with Marine because M and I both believe that any artistic success comes not from talent but from sweat and grit.
3. What gave you the idea for BRIGHT BURNING STARS?
I wrote a short story titled The Art of Jealousy and then I knew I wanted to write a larger piece.
4. Do you have a favourite scene, quote, or moment from BRIGHT BURNING STARS?
I love the scene where Marine dances to Biggie Smalls and there is a Luc scene I adore but I don’t want to give it away.
5. If you could tell your younger writing self-anything, what would it be?
I would tell her never to forget about the magic of process and to always trust her instincts.
6. What is on your current TBR pile?
The Night Tiger by Yangsze Choo, The Meaning of Birds by Jaye Robbin Brown, Wilder Girls by Rory Power, How It Feels to Float by Helena Fox, Heroine by Mindy McGinnis. I’m a sucker for books. I LOVE to read.
7. Do you write to music? If so, what artist were you listening to while writing BRIGHT BURNING STARS?
I usually don’t, but as I was trying to figure Kate out I listened to Unsteady by X Ambassadors and I put on classical piano pieces, literal ballet music, while I worked on studio scenes for atmosphere and rhythm purposes.
A.K. SMALL was born in Paris. At five years old, she began studying classical dance with the legendary Max Bozzoni, then later with Daniel Franck and Monique Arabian at the famous Académie Chaptal.
At thirteen, she moved to the United States where she danced with the Pacific Northwest Ballet for one summer in Seattle and with the Richmond Ballet Student Company for several years. She’s a graduate of the College of William and Mary and has an MFA in fiction from Vermont College of
Fine Arts. When she’s not writing, she spends time with her husband, her puppy, and her three daughters, and practices yoga. Bright Burning Stars is her first novel.
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