Glen C. Strathy started writing stories when he was 11 years old and too shy to have a life. He eventually found a life when he started acting in community theatre and met other writers, actors, dancers, and artists. He discovered that the best thing about performing arts (and other arts too) is that they give people more freedom to be who they want to be. After spending time as an actor, teacher, and freelance writer, he returned to his first love, fiction and wrote Dancing on the Inside, a novel for ages 9-12.
Glen earned an M.A. in English from the University of Western Ontario, and graduated from the Artist in Community Education program at Queen’s University, Kingston. He co-authored two non-fiction books, one of which (The Coming Economic Collapse, Warner Business Books, 2006) became a New York Times Bestselling Business Book. He belongs to the Professional Writers Association of Canada (PWAC) and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI). His website www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com provides advice to budding authors.
Glen lives with his wife, fellow writer Kaitlin Rainey, and their daughter in Kingston, Ontario, Canada.
Joining us today is Glen C. Strathy, author of Dancing on the Inside. This is a children’s book geared toward ages 9-12.
Welcome to The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection, Glen. Can you please start off by telling us a bit about yourself?
I grew up in London, Ontario, Canada, though I live in Kingston now. I’ve always had a passion for stories and the performing arts. But it’s only within the last decade or so that I started making a living as a writer.
When did you first get bit by the writing bug?
When I was in grade 4 I started writing science fiction stories in school. Science fiction was just about all I read at that time. By age 11, I had taught myself to type on my father’s old manual typewriter and was spending a lot of evenings writing.
I got distracted from writing as a teenager when I discovered I liked acting. I did a lot of community theatre as well as professional, non-union shows, and that took up much of my spare time. So for a long time my writing consisted mainly of bad poetry, theatre reviews, and academic papers for school.
Around the turn of the century, I started doing commercial writing for money, and that led to my co-authoring a couple of business books, one of which became a New York Times Bestseller.
Why did you decide to write stories for children?
I never really gave up my ambition to write fiction. It was just on hold for a long time. Then I had the idea for Dancing on the Inside and I felt I just had to write it. I didn’t set out to write children’s books. That’s just what this particular book happened to be.
Do you believe it is harder to write books for a younger audience?
It’s hard to write fiction for any audience. Every genre has its challenges. Even picture books, which everyone thinks are easy because they’re short, are hard to write because they must be so concise while still telling a satisfying story.
What is your favorite part of writing for young people?
You have to be passionate about whatever you are writing, otherwise it’s just thankless work. There are still parts of Dancing on the Inside that I can’t read without being emotionally affected – even though I wrote the book and have gone over the words many, many times.
But what’s even better is finding out that other people were moved by your words. Hearing a positive comment by a reader or finding out that you inspired someone is the best possible reward.
Dancing on the Inside tells the story of a very special girl named Jenny Spark. She’s smart, creative, and has a passion for ballet. Unfortunately, she also is incredibly shy. More than shy, actually. She suffers from social anxiety so bad that she can’t take a ballet class without suffering a panic attack.
But Jenny refuses to give up on her dream. So she has to find other ways to stay a part of the dance school. Eventually, it’s discovered that she has an amazing gift for creating dance, and she goes on to choreograph an original ballet.
What inspired you to write it?
The idea came from an experience my own daughter had when she was just four years old. She wanted to take dance lessons, but she preferred to sit and watch the others rather than participate in class herself. The struggle between wanting something but being held back by something inside you struck me as an interesting premise. So in creating Jenny Spark I exaggerated this tension. I made Jenny not just fond of dance but a dance genius. I made her anxiety much worse. And I made her older so that she could do some amazing things a four-year-old couldn’t.
Where can readers purchase a copy?
Dancing on the Inside is available through:
… and other online retailers.
Do you have a website and/or blog where readers can find out more?
You can find out more about the book at www.glen-c-strathy.com.
If you’re a budding writer, I also have a website that offers writing tips called www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com.
What is up next for you?
I have several ideas I’m working on for other middle-grade novels (including a sequel to Dancing on the Inside), as well as some non-fiction books.
Thank you for spending time with us today, Glen. We wish you much success.