AUTHOR POST Christine Darcas

Mix Dancing Into Writing and Surprising Stories Can Abound
by Christine Darcas

When I started writing fiction 16 years ago, I never imagined that I would publish one, let alone two, novels with a Latin American dance context. In fact, if anyone had told me then that I would move to Australia in my 40s and become a dance addict, I would have guffawed. But that’s exactly what happened.
In 2001, my family landed in Melbourne for my husband’s work. By then, nearly a decade had passed since I had abandoned my corporate career to become a stay-at-home mother. But aware as I was of my good fortune to have an employed spouse, healthy children, and food on the table, I had long since started to feel strangely invisible and squandered. As I met and spoke with more women, I would learn that I was not alone. Not by a long shot.
One morning, I read a fluffy newspaper article about the 25 things you should do before you die. Dancing was right on top of the list. It so happened that I passed a Latin American dance studio every day on the route to my kids’ schools. I started to take dance lessons, and a new odyssey began.

Within two months, I started to change. I was having fun. As I learned choreography and slowly released my spirit to the music, I experienced a joyous exhilaration I never anticipated. Meeting the challenge to perform publicly for exams, I was pleasantly surprised by what I could accomplish. I became fitter and more confident. What’s more, I witnessed other middle-aged women experiencing the same transformation. I began to think there was a story in it, and so Dancing Backwards in High Heels was born.
The more I learned about dancing, particularly competition Latin American dancing, the more insight I developed into tensions that could fuel a compelling story. While the dance world offers a lot of joy, it also creates unexpected anguish. For example, we can easily imagine a dance partnership that smoulders with restrained desire. But what happens if the woman falls for her partner and he’s gay? Spending so many hours in physical contact might trigger romance but it’s not uncommon for the opposite to happen, causing the partnership to end in frustration and bitterness. And that scenario we’ve heard about where the girl who loved ballet is denied a ballet career because of her stout build? What if her mother encouraged her to pursue her dream despite knowing that her body might be a liability? Is the daughter then justified in believing her mother foolishly set her up for failure? These are the sort of rising stakes I play with in Spinning Out.
Despite the tensions that dance can create, my work always returns to its joyful power to stir and awaken our souls. With that awakening comes hope. Whenever dark storm clouds gather, you can find me on a dance floor, sheltered from the rain.


Christine Darcas is a freelance writer whose fiction and non-fiction have appeared in publications across a variety of countries. In addition to her writing, Christine is passionate about Latin American dancing and reached the Masters semi-finals of the 2007 Australian Dancesport Championships. She was born and raised in the US and is now settled in Melbourne, Australia, with her husband and two teenage children. Visit her website at www.christinedarcas.com.

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8 Responses to AUTHOR POST Christine Darcas

  1. Kylie Fox says:

    Thanks Christine – great blog! You’re an inspiration to all women (especially the under-appreciated Mum’s out there) – set your aspirations high and then soar to reach them.
    Although, dancing and writing? You may be setting that bar a little high for some of us!

  2. Thanks, Kylie, for stopping by! If it’s any consolation, I didn’t have the breathing space to consider dancing until my children were in school full time. I don’t usually dance for more than 2-3 hours a week, and that’s in lieu of what other people might use for gym time. The exception has been the periods when I’ve been in a competition partnership. Then I practice 6-8 hours a week, and that’s excluding a full day of competition every six weeks. Yes, things get hairy during those times — a lot of child care arrangements and me jumping up and down declaring that I should be able to pursue a passion for myself. The writing is different — over the years it’s become my job. My job has been writing/editing/proofreading and my hobby has been dancing. Xx

  3. Great post, Christine. I’ve read both your books and loved them. You write such real and sympathetic heroines in situations that are so relatable. And the dancing sequences are beautifully written – I felt like I was dancing too. It was exhilarating. – Alison

  4. Jacqui says:

    Great post, Christine. As a Mum of two, I so understand your feelings. I used to tap dance pre-kids and your post has got me fired up to get back into it.

  5. Christine, your description of the joy of dance is truly inspiring. If I were not already doing ‘Zumba’ I would try Latin, after reading this post! I love the way you allow your themes to arise naturally from your experiences and wonderings. Even though I write fantasy, I always say ‘real life makes the best story!’

  6. Amra Pajalic says:

    What an inspirational story about being open to new experiences at any stage of life and I love how this inspired your fiction.

  7. So nice of all of you to stop by and comment. Jacqui, I love to watch tap dancing. I have a tap dancing friend who says that when she was a child she dreamed of learning how to tap, wearing red lipstick, and having big breasts. Last I saw her, she had pretty much achieved all three!

  8. Karen McKenzie says:

    Thanks Christine. I’ve greatly enjoyed both your novels as well. You really know how to describe dance wonderfully. I like especially in your blog the phrase “released my spirit to the music.” Lovely.

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