The Story Behind ‘The Dancing Master’

January 9th, 2014

TheDancingMasterCarol Shields once said, “Write the book you want to read, the one you cannot find.” When does a writer’s story begin forming? How long does it take to write? What were the finishing touches? We’ve asked Julie Klassen, author of The Dancing Master, to tell us the story behind the story. You won’t want to miss Julie’s “All Things Jane” (from Austen to Eyre) Live Webcast Event and enter to win a Kindle HDX! Learn more here.

Tell us a bit about the story behind your latest novel. Where did your inspiration spark from?

I learned to dance the box-step standing atop my father’s size 15, triple E shoes. I then went on to take every ballroom dance class I could sign up for at the University of Illinois from legendary instructor, Aurora Villacorta. Later, I even taught a few dance classes of my own through community ed. So, perhaps it’s little wonder I wrote about a dance teacher, or “dancing master” as they were called in Jane Austen’s time, when the mere touch of hands at a ball sparked romance. I enjoyed drawing on all of these experiences to write the book.

How long did your book take you to write?

Approximately six or seven months of writing, adding, cutting, layering, reading, revising, and revising some more to create a draft solid enough to submit to my publisher.

How long was the editing/publishing process?

After I turn in my “first” draft (in reality my 9th or 10th) to my editors, they read it and give me feedback, I revise as needed, and then the manuscript goes through several editing and proofreading stages before it is printed. This adds another 4 or 5 months.

Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

Sure. Here’s my two cents: You’ve heard the saying, “Write what you know?” I say, “Write what you love”—what you personally love to read. What is the genre you most often read for pure enjoyment? That is probably the genre you should be writing. The hardest thing about writing is making yourself keep your derriere in the chair and tough it out until you write that first draft. Until you do, you will never know if you have what it takes—or if you would even truly want—to be a writer.

I would also encourage new writers to study the basics (point of view, plotting, characterization, formatting) online, at a writer’s conference, or with a local writer’s group. There is a lot to learn, but thankfully these days with so much information online, it’s easier than ever to get good information. Once you have written a first draft, have well-read friends or a critique group read the manuscript and revise it based on their feedback before submitting it to an agent or editor. Writing is a lot of work, but definitely worth the effort.

What’s your next book or project?

I am working on another Regency era novel for Bethany House Publishers called The Secret of Pembrooke Park, due out December 2014, Lord willing.

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Julie Klassen

{More About Julie Klassen}

Julie Klassen loves all things Jane–”Jane Eyre” and Jane Austen. A graduate of the University of Illinois, Julie worked in publishing for sixteen years and now writes full time. She is a three-time Christy Award winner and a 2010 Midwest Book Award winner for Genre Fiction. Julie and her husband have two sons and live in a suburb of St. Paul, Minnesota.

Find out more about Julie at