Book About Old Man Falling In Love With Young Girl Interview with James L Therrian, Author of "Dance of the Heart"

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Interview with James L Therrian, Author of "Dance of the Heart"

Interview with James L. Terrian

Author of Heart Dance

James Therian (2007)

ISBN 9780615135007

Today Tyler R. Tichelaar of Reader Views is pleased to be joined by James Therian, author of Dance of the Heart.

James Therian was born in Michigan and spent most of his early years in the rainy Northwest before following the sun to Maui, Santa Fe, New Mexico and California. An avid writer, James has attended workshops with Lou Hunter from the famous Screenplay 434 class at UCLA. James currently lives and writes in San Diego and works at the University of California, San Diego.

Tyler: Thanks, James, for joining me today. To begin with, could you briefly tell us what your new novel, Dance of the Heart, is about?

James: “Heart Dance” is a love story and an attraction story. The main character, Michael, is a successful professional dancer with a happily settled life that suddenly changes after the death of his dance partner, Margo. Her replacement, Elizabeth, is the complete opposite of Margo, who was a nasty bitter woman. Michael is seduced by Elizabeth and agrees with her the moment he lays eyes on her. The problem is that Michael is gay, in a long-term relationship with his lover, David.

Tyler: James, are you a dancer yourself?

James: No, I’m not a dancer, but I like ballet and performing arts.

Tyler: Where did you get the idea for “Heart Dance?”

James: It was an idea I came up with for a creative writing class I took years ago. I wanted to show that everyone is the same when it comes to the heart; no matter who we are or who we love, we all face similar challenges and choices in life.

Tyler: Of course, the book is not just about dance in its literal sense, but about love and how love can change. I’m particularly surprised by the fact that the main character, Michael, is gay and has a lover, David, but then falls in love with his dance partner, Elizabeth. Do you think it is possible for a person to fall in love with people of both sexes?

James: Yes, I do. Many of us have feelings for people that are inappropriate, whether it’s someone of the same sex, someone who’s married, or someone we know the people in our lives wouldn’t accept, so we usually just hide our feelings . In Michael’s case, the question is not whether he has feelings for Elizabeth, but whether he can change who he is for love?

Tyler: In the novel, Michael questions not only who he loves, but also his own sexual identity and choices. Do you think Michael is really gay or can a person’s sexual preferences change over time?

James: For some people, sexual identity is a choice. For example, some people spend their entire lives not being who they are because they are afraid to express themselves. Many live double lives, but that’s a whole other conversation. Michael is gay, but attractions can sometimes make us all question what we want.

Tyler: One of the characters, Michael’s mother Sally, states, “You can’t choose who you fall in love with, but you can choose what you do with it.” Would it be fair to say that is the theme of the book? Was researching this claim the reason you wrote the book?

James: “Heart Dance” explores the theme that sometimes love surprises us all. What we do with them is our choice. I also wanted to show that when it comes to matters of the heart, we are all the same, no matter who we are or how we choose to define ourselves.

Tyler: How have readers responded to the novel so far, and specifically its themes of love and sexual identity?

James: I’ve had very positive feedback from the readers I’ve spoken to. Michael is gay; however, “Heart Dance” is a story of love and attractions. One reader told me she thought it would be a good book for her teenage daughter to read at school as part of diversity studies. I was glad to hear that because I deliberately wrote the story to appeal to all readers. It is a funny and wholesome story and it has reminders for everyone about the lessons we need to learn in life.

“Heart Dance” twists a familiar genre with the fact that the main character is gay but thinks he might be in love with a woman. I think many readers can relate to Michael’s plight because we all do stupid things when we fall in love.

Tyler: James, what can we expect from your pen?

James: My next book, which I am currently working on, is a self-publishing textbook. I’ve also been working on a book about what Americans will need to do to thrive in the future as well as leave a livable planet for our children.

Tyler: More and more authors, myself included, are self-publishing these days, but self-publishing still carries a bit of a stigma. How would you respond to critics of self-publishing?

James: I think it’s the familiar old boys’ club story. There are thousands of stories that need to be published; however, due to how traditional publishing works, it can be difficult to get a publisher to pick up your book. It is not impossible to find a publisher; however, this may seem like the proverbial “needle in a haystack” to most authors. After comparing how traditional publishing works versus self-publishing, I decided to self-publish because it gave me more control over my work. By self-publishing, I actually took the time to learn the skills to do my own typesetting, layout, and cover. My next book will be much easier to publish because I now have the software, knowledge, and skills to truly self-publish. I’ve basically become a publisher in addition to an author.

There are definite advantages to working with a major label as they have marketing departments, industry connections and contacts, but I believe the industry is changing as self-publishing becomes more common. It’s similar to the old Hollywood studio system and the entry of independent filmmakers and the impact it has had on the movie business. Self-publishing is very similar to the independent film industry. There are many excellent self-published books out there, and I think many authors will choose to self-publish in the future.

Tyler: Do you think self-publishing will continue to be a trend and eventually dominate the market over books from traditional publishers?

James: I’m amazed at how many people have approached me saying they have a story they’ve always wanted to publish. I encourage them to do this because it can happen if they commit to making it all happen. For me personally, the publication of “Sirds dejas” has been a tremendous life achievement, and the fact that it is well received is even more gratifying.

I see self-publishing continuing to gain market share. The biggest challenge for self-published authors is, of course, promotion. This is the traditional advantage of publishing. They have the resources to spread the word. Most authors are just writers and have no idea how to promote their book. I recommend finding a professional to help spread the word, because you might be the best story ever written, but if people don’t know about it, they won’t have a chance to read your work. This is a good investment because you might not only sell a few books, but also find a traditional publisher who is interested in picking up your book.

Tyler: You also mentioned that you’re writing a non-fiction book about how Americans can prosper and still leave behind a habitable planet. Could you tell us a little about your writing background? Have you written both fiction and non-fiction, and what do you find to be the particular difficulties or advantages of writing prose for each?

James: I enjoy all types of writing and am not afraid to venture into a new genre. I have written both fiction and non-fiction, as well as travel writing while in Hawaii. My first audience was a group of colleagues at the bank I worked for years ago. Every day I filled in at the front desk while she went to lunch. In this class, I wrote parts for a suspense thriller set on the Oregon coast. I shared my story with the other assistants who eagerly awaited my new chapters. Years later, I moved to Hawaii and sent a series of stories of my adventures to my friends on the mainland, which I called Notes from Maui. Living in Hawaii is like living in a foreign country, and I had fun sharing my observations about living on a tropical island. “Memos from Maui” was well received and I knew then that I was in for a treat; I needed to do something with my writing. Both fiction and non-fiction have their advantages and challenges, but I think it’s easy to write non-fiction commentary. Fiction requires more thought and imagination, but where you go with it is entirely up to you. That being said, I think a good writer is not afraid to take on a new challenge. I also write poetry, which I have also published.

I recently took a playwriting workshop which was a great learning experience. Part of the workshop included writing a 10-minute play to be directed and performed by professionals on stage. I took three chapters of “Dance of the Heart” and was able to see part of my story play out on stage. It was a sensible process and I became a writer from the experience.

Tyler: Thanks for joining me today, James. Before we go, can you tell our readers where they can learn more about Dance of the Heart and where they can buy copies?

James: Dance of the Heart can be purchased online at http://www.danceoftheheart.net. It can also be ordered from any bookstore from Borders to your local bookstore. Thanks, Tyler.

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