Dancing With The Stars premiered Monday night, I was really impressed by Chynna Phillips. The results were announced last night but I am writing this in advance so I don't know who was sent packing, but I think it is awesome that Ella Barrick is her today talking about her brand new book Quickstep to Murder. It is the first book in the new Ballroom Dance Mystery Series. Put on your dancing shoes and help me welcome Ella!!!
I am happy to be here!
By Ella Barrick
One of the questions I get asked most frequently at book events is “Where do you get your ideas?” Frequently, I can’t pinpoint where a particular plot or character idea came from, but in the case of the Ballroom Dance mystery series, I can say with certainty that I got the idea from watching Dancing with the Stars.
For those of you who might not know the show, ABC airs it on Monday nights and it features famous (or infamous) non-dancers paired with professional ballroom dancers. The pros and their partners perform a different ballroom dance—tango, waltz, salsa, etc.—each week and get scored by three judges and voted on by the American public. The last pair left standing gets a cheesy mirror ball trophy at the end of the season.
Part of me hesitates to confess to liking a reality show, but the truth is my daughters and I enjoy the show, and my mom even comes over on Monday nights to watch with us. My husband tolerates it. I don’t know if it’s the glitzy costumes and make-up, or the Cinderella-ish idea of transforming an actor or astronaut or athlete into an elegant, electric ballroom dancer, but the show sucked us in around Season Five or Six and we’ve watched ever since.
It might seem like a leap to go from liking DWTS to setting murder mysteries in a ballroom dance studio and having a professional ballroom dancer as the amateur sleuth who must find the killers, but I think there’s some logic to it. There’s a lot of passion in ballroom dance; in fact, there’s a lot of emotion involved in any competitive endeavor. Viewers can see the anger and frustration and jealousies playing out every Monday night between professional and “star” partners, between dancers and judges, and between the competitors themselves. It didn’t take much imagination on my part to envision a murder happening in the world of ballroom dance.
My protagonist in Quickstep to Murder: A Ballroom Dance Mystery, Anastasia “Stacy” Graysin is a professional ballroom dancer who co-owns a studio, Graysin Motion, in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia. Her success at sleuthing comes not from any knowledge of detective techniques or investigative practices, but from her intimacy with the ballroom community. She’s not a cerebral Nero Wolfish or Sherlock Holmesian sort of detective; she’s impulsive, physical, intuitive. Her thought processes, to some extent, reflect her dancing.
When the co-owner of Stacy’s studio, Rafe Acosta (who happens to be her ex-fiancé), turns up dead on the ballroom floor, the police immediately suspect Stacy. He cheated on her, they quarreled over the studio, and he was shot with her gun. An open and shut case, the detective thinks. To keep the cops from waltzing her into the nearest jail cell, Stacy must find the real killer. Throughout, she must continue teaching her dance classes, practice with students who pay for private lessons, compete in ballroom competitions, and find ways to keep Graysin Motion solvent.
Going from the idea of creating a mystery series in the world of ballroom dance to actually learning enough about the sport—it’s called dance sport, sometimes, in an effort to reflect the athleticism and discipline necessary to compete successfully—to make it come alive for readers took a lot of research and effort. But that’s a whole ’nother blog post . . .
If you’re a DWTS fan, or a fan of mysteries with humor and fun characters and a twisty plot, check out Quickstep to Murder. Who knows? Maybe you’ll drag your spouse down to the local ballroom dance studio and sign up for foxtrot lessons before Stacy uncovers the murderer!
Thank you Ella, my daughters and I are big DWTS fans and every year we think we are not happy with the chosen stars but we keep watching and loving it. Let's face it with Maks and his brother on this year how could we not watch!!
About This Author
Ella Barrick grew up in the South, but has since migrated West. She spent some time working for Uncle Sam and taught English at the college level before turning her hand to writing mysteries. She also writes under another pseudonym too, or this is a pseudonym and she writes other stories under her real name. One of the joys of being an author.
Ella and her husband took exactly two ballroom dancing lessons on the quickstep before Ella’s bruised ankles and crushed feet forced them to retire. (Her husband is a wonderful guy, but he doesn’t have a single ballroom dance gene in his whole body.) Thus, Ella relies on the kindness of competitive ballroom dancers and friends who foxtrot fabulously for the dance details in her Ballroom Dance Mysteries. And, of course, as she said above, she watches Dancing with the Stars for costume and choreography ideas!
Besides writing, Ella enjoys reading, gardening, home decorating, traveling, and long walks or hikes.
My Thoughts on Quickstep to Murder
I rarely give a first book in the series 5 stars but this book embraced me from the first page. The setting was something I knew I would like as soon as I heard the title and the characters and the mystery plot did not disappoint. They were perfectly choreographed with all the right moves and set the perfect tempo, fast. Once you start this book you will not be able to put it down.
The staring character Stacy was very multifaceted dealing with the grief of her ex being murdered in the middle of her studio and strong when she had to be to keep the business going, dealing with wide range of problems with students and instructors. But the true treasure was when he softer side just started to break through in the end when she could let her guard down a bit.
I can't wait until June for the next installment of this series, Dead Man Waltzing. It will be a true delight to take another twirl on the dance floor and have Ella lead us into her next mystery.
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I have 2 copies to give away
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from Berkley Prime Crime, A Division of The Penguin Book Group. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”