OK, I admit it: I am a fan of Strictly. I was particularly moved by the recent People’s Strictly for Comic Relief. They were all winners but I thought the official champion, Cassidy Little, was particularly brilliant and very charismatic. Maybe a new career for him in addition to being Forces TV interviewer? I’d certainly back it!
I think my attraction to Strictly has very little to do with the sparkle and spray tan. I simply enjoy watching people learn a new skill. In dance, they often seem to find an elegance within them that they didn’t know existed until coaxed from them by their dance mentor. It’s the real life equivalent to ‘Harry, you’re a wizard’. The journey from wallflower to belle of the ball has a wonderful story arc which makes it a natural for all sorts of tales from fairy stories to novels. You don’t have to think very hard to come up with examples: Cinderella, Pride and Prejudice, the Ugly Duckling, Harry Potter, even Twilight! Transformation is irresistible as it is so optimistic.
I’ve just had my own real life evening of wallflower to belle this month. I was shortlisted for the YA Romantic Novel of the Year writing as Joss Stirling. I went along to the gala event not expecting to win anything and came away with the YA prize and then the overall prize for STRUCK, picked as winner despite the wonderful other novels on the list from the adult market. A YA novel has never won before so I was dead chuffed and very very surprised. Fortunately there was a long walk from my table near to back to the podium for me to prepare my speech of thanks as I hadn’t gone with one in my pocket.
In case you are wondering why I started with Strictly, STRUCK picks up on two Strictly themes. One funny aspect in the romance is that my hero, Kieran Storm, a young Sherlock type of boy, while on an undercover mission in a school, is enrolled by his friends in AS Dance (he was expecting to be doing Maths, Further Maths, Physics and Chemistry). This cerebral guy has to learn how to be a dancer – and of course the heroine, Raven, just happens to be on hand to teach him. You’ll have to read the book to find out if he ends up a Cassidy or a John Sergeant.
The second Strictly theme is following young people as they learn to be a detectives. The heroes in the book all attend the Young Detective Agency, a sixth form college for those wanting a career in the different aspects of law enforcement. It is fun imagining the learning curve of my four – the Owl (Kieran), the Wolf (Nathan), the Cobra (Damien) and the Cat (Joe). Each has a lot to learn and hopefully by the end of the book the reader gets the pay off of transformation as well as the satisfaction of a romance conclusion. You can watch a video about the book at the link below.