Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Interview with Charlotte Kandel

I recently got the amazing opportunity to interview and talk with Mrs. Charlotte Kandel. As I waited to for the phone to ring I started to get really nervous, but then as soon as I started talking to Charlotte all fear escaped me and I had a complete blast. Charlotte is a wonderful woman and I just don’t have enough good things to say about her. If you have not read The Scarlet Stockings: The Enchanted Riddle I highly recommend you go to the store and buy it. It is a great read for all ages and I know you won’t be disappointed.

Why did you write about ballet? Were you a “ballerina” as a child? Was that your dream?
Not at all. I am the kind of person that can barely walk in high heels and am very clumsy! I am constantly dropping things and am such a huge klutz. However I did loved watching ballet because it seemed so impossible to me. Also when I worked at Warner Brothers as the global head of publicity for 15 years, I really got to seem what goes on behind the scenes, which I thought was so interesting, and just increased by love of ballet.

What made you want to become an author? When did you realize this is what you wanted to do?
For as long as I can remember I have wanted to be an author. The thing is I was to scared. I was always very shy and had no self confidence. When I left Warner Brothers I questioned what I was going to do with the rest of my life and realized that maybe I could finally achieve my dream of becoming an author. Then a friend, who happens to be a Tony Award winning set and costume designer pushed me and kept telling me I could do it. After much persuasion and my knees shaking I finally sat down at my computer and started thinking about wonderful ideas for a book.

Why did you make our book take place in the 1920’s?
Because for women it was the most exciting point that had ever occurred and everything changed. Women were allowed to wear makeup and cut their long hair. They could get real jobs that weren’t horrible. This shocked their parents and grandparents and I just thought it was such a glamorous time to be in.

What kind of research did you do for this book?
Google. God bless it! Since I worked at Warner Brothers I knew a lot of people who knew lots about ballet. Also I knew where ballet started, so I had a good base. After that I really started to research ballet and discovered its founder Pierre Beauchamp. This immensely helped me and I was able to fill the book with true facts about ballet. I didn’t want to fill the book with a bunch of rubbish because I didn’t think it was fair to all those dancers who really know their history.

Will Daphne’s story continue?
O yes. There will be a total of three books in all. I have always envisioned Daphne’s story to be told as a trilogy because to me it has always logically had three parts, I don’t know why, but it just has. In each book Daphne will be two years older than in the previous book. For example, in the first book she was thirteen and fourteen, in the second book she will be sixteen, and in the final book she will be eighteen. I did this because I really wanted people to grow up with Daphne and see how she handled her teenage years. Also with Daphne being a little older in the third book I could really write about and finish with a romance. Each book will continue to have a ballet as part of the main plot. In the second book it will be Giselle and in the third book it will be Sleeping Beauty. Throughout the rest of the series old characters will reappear and new one’s will come into the story, but one thing is for sure is that Daphne’s adventure will never be over.

I loved how you made the character’s all have their own voice, using different accents. What gave you the idea?
I wanted the book to be real. I wanted the readers to feel like they were actually meeting real people. In the 1920s many of the great ballerinas were Russian. After visiting St. Petersburg I really grasped the way people talked, thus helping me create the accents.

Did you create any of the characters based on people you know or have met?

Daphne resembles me in quite a few ways. I did have absolutely wonderful parents, but they did travel a lot. My twin sister and I were sent to boarding school and we both hated it. Because of this I could really key into Daphne’s feeling of loneliness, self-consciousness, and isolation.
Now if I were to ever do a movie of The Scarlet Stockings I would definitely want Uma Thurman to play Magda. I have had the pleasure of working with her and she is just divine. She is well read, knows many languages, doesn’t walk around with an entourage, and is just a fabulous person. I guess when writing about Magda I was kind of thinking of Uma, but it is only a loose relationship between the two.

The Nutcracker is my favorite ballet and I loved how you included it in the book. Now what’s your favorite ballet?

I don’t have just one favorite ballet! I do have a soft spot for all ballets, but my three favorites would have to be The Nutcracker, Giselle, and Sleeping Beauty. This is why these are the ballets in my books, because I just love them so much. One of my fondest memories of a ballet was when I was 19 and saw Giselle. The ending when the two main characters must part and their fingers move slowly apart just captivated me. I could feel the yearning, a cried for three days, the emotion produced was just so grand.

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