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Astonish Me

Joan thought she could leave her past behind, but the intense world of ballet can't seem to let her go.

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Maggie Shipstead

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<club-desc-paragraph>Joan just wanted to move on, but her past has come calling. After a love affair with a world-famous Soviet ballet star altered the course of her own dance career forever, she hoped to start over in a new place with her new family - but, unfortunately, the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. As a mother, Joan is both thrilled and dismayed when her son proves to have an innate ability for dance that exceeds even her own, a talent that will draw her back into a world of risk and secrets and return her to the orbit of the man she’s desperate to avoid. Maggie Shipstead takes us deep into the demanding and deceptive world of ballet. Hear how she immersed herself in the fascinating lives of her characters and brought their intertwined stories to the page.<club-desc-paragraph>

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<club-landing-h3>Background<club-landing-h3>

<club-landing-paragraph>Maggie talks about her childhood, her life-long fascination with ballet, and the process of expanding Astonish Me from short story to novel.<club-landing-paragraph>

<club-landing-h3>Characters and Setting<club-landing-h3>

<club-landing-paragraph>Maggie describes how power dynamics and internal conflicts shape her characters' relationships. She also talks about how her choices of time period and setting impact the story.<club-landing-paragraph>

<club-landing-h3>Dancers and the Dance<club-landing-h3>

<club-landing-paragraph>Maggie discusses Joan's drives and limitations, the "cult-like" nature of the ballet world, and how she structured Astonish Me like a ballet.<club-landing-paragraph>

<club-landing-h3>Teachers and Parents<club-landing-h3>

<club-landing-paragraph>Maggie talks about the difference between great dancers and great teachers and the lessons parents teach their children, often without knowing it.<club-landing-paragraph>

<club-landing-h3>Power, Freedom, & Control<club-landing-h3>

<club-landing-paragraph>Maggie covers the need for control in ballet and in life. She also discusses a fateful trip to Disneyland that her characters take early in the book, and how sex blurs the lines of their key relationships.<club-landing-paragraph>

<club-landing-h3>Writer's Process<club-landing-h3>

<club-landing-paragraph>Maggie talks about the process of writing Astonish Me while traveling the world, how she researched and constructed the novel and the myth of "writing what you know."<club-landing-paragraph>

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