Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Love Ball Room Dance and Romance? Meet Author Tonya Plank

Posted by Susan B James on 3:30:00 AM with 8 comments
Meet Tonya Plank, lawyer, animal rescuer, ballroom dancer and author of the 3-book, New Adult/Romance Ballroom Dance series, Fever.

Tonya, please tell us a little about yourself.
I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona but moved to New York shortly after grad school to go to law school. I lived and practiced law in New York for eighteen years before moving to Los Angeles to focus on writing. 
My other focus is animals. I volunteer frequently at the Best Friends Animal Society, and I have two rescue cats, Rhea and Katusha, and one dog, Sofia. Since moving back out West, I love taking road trips. I try to take several a year, with Sofia of course!

You say on your blog, while working as a lawyer, you developed a passion for Ballroom dancing. So how did that happen? What sparked it?

I was working as a criminal appeals attorney, which is a very stressful job on so many different levels. One of my friends convinced me to take swing dancing lessons at night, since she loved that dance. This was kind of around the time of the retro swing craze in New York. I signed up for a single class at a studio right down the street from me, and was immediately in love. I loved moving, being social with people other than attorneys, and I found it to be a great stress relief. The studio had an unlimited class plan, which worked out to be far cheaper than taking single classes, so I started taking all of the group classes.
They also had weekly parties, and, one night, a pair of Latin instructors who competed at the international competitions performed for the students. I fell even deeper in love. I soon started training privately with the male dancer of the pair, and I did some professional / amateur competitions with him.
Training made me so much happier; gave me something to look forward to after a long, grueling workday. It soon became expensive, though, so I had to cut back. But I still did little showcases from time to time, and went to the competitions to cheer on my friends. And then I started writing about dance, which became a way to re-live it without the expense!

Other than your own, who are your favorite (heroes/heroines/writers) in your genre? 
I have so many favorites. I love Alice Clayton for her mad humor, Emma Chase for her witty, sweetly combative characters, Sylvia Day for her high-intensity sex scenes, and Colleen Hoover for the emotional depth of her young characters. Favorite contemporary heroes are Gideon Cross from Day’s Crossfire series and Holden from Hoover’s Hopeless. Favorite heroines are Grace from Clayton’s Redhead series and basically all of Emma Chase’s female characters. My favorites from the classics are Darcy, Knightly, and Romeo. There’s a wonderful book called Juliet, by Anne Fortier, in which the main character, a modern-day Juliet, researches several of the early Romeo and Juliet stories. Shakespeare’s is not the first. The original story that she uncovers is the most passionate love story I think I’ve ever read! That Romeo – from the Medieval period – is the hottest hero ever. He fought to the death for his Juliet, and even though it’s a tragedy, like Shakespeare’s, their souls live on together forever. It’s so beautiful.

What is the most exciting moment, so far, in your writing career?

Probably my most exciting writing moments have been my success with my dance blog, Swan Lake Samba Girl. I’m no longer writing it, because if I did I’d have no time for my novels, but when I lived in New York, as I said, I’d taken up ballroom dancing. That rekindled my childhood love of ballet, so I’d begun writing a dance blog both journaling my experiences learning to dance as an adult, and watching and reviewing various dance performances in New York. The blog became really popular – at least among ballroom dancers and New York dance-goers, and it actually started receiving quite a bit of press from mainstream media. James Wolcott, from Vanity Fair, started quoting me and linking to me regularly, which led to shout-outs the in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times Arts Beat blog, and the Washington Post. CNN.com even interviewed me about the popularity of the dance shows on TV. Big ballet and modern dance companies gave me press tickets to review their performances. I was really amazed by all the response because I didn’t expect it at all. I was just kind of recording my own thoughts about and experiences with dance!

What is your favorite pastime, other than writing?
 My favorite pastime is reading. I read everything: mysteries, literary fiction, memoirs, chick-lit, and of course romance – all subgenres!

How do you motivate yourself when inspiration takes a vacation?
 I usually take a little break from writing and read everything I can. Reading great writing helps immensely with writing well. I also go to museums or art galleries, or listen to dance music and watch some of my dance DVDs from prior Blackpool competitions. I find it inspiring to surround myself with art.
Any advice for new writers just starting out?
 I think it’s important to read as much as you can, especially in your genre. You learn how to write well primarily through reading. I also think it’s important to join writers’ organizations, participate in critique groups and take writing workshops. Those will help you to improve your craft and will give you a social outlet. It can get lonely being a writer! 

Tell us about Fever. Love the covers, by the way.
 My latest release is a three-book contemporary / new adult romance series set in the world of ballroom dancing. It’s called Fever: A Ballroom Romance (books One, Two and Three).*** 
***If you hit the links you can go Amazon and read excerpts.
 The heroine is Rory, whose childhood dreams of becoming a ballet dancer were dashed by her father’s death and her developing anorexia. She became a lawyer but, now at the start of her law career, she finds herself unfulfilled and uncomfortable in her skin. Then she meets Russian ballroom dancer Sasha, who immediately reignites her passions for dance, and for life. He recognizes her talents and falls hard for her. He desperately wants to become world champion and knows he can do it with her. But he’s got to convince her to leave everything she’s worked for in her adult life to train full-time with him. They both have a lot past demons to overcome and issues to work through, in addition to jealous, vengeful competitors who threaten to sabotage them, in order for their partnership – both on and off the dance floor – to survive. 

What’s your current WIP?
 I’m writing another book in the Fever series. The first three are from Rory’s perspective. This one will be from Sasha’s. Although it’s part of the series, it can be read as a standalone. I’m also working on the next couple’s story in the overall Infectious Rhythm series (of which Fever is the first). It will involve characters readers will have already met from the Fever books. 

And finally, where can we find  you?
 You can find me on my website, where I write short blog entries: http://www.tonyaplank.com/
And on my Amazon Author Page 

Thank you for being here, Tonya. I wish you many, many sales!

Love dance? You can download a free copy of Book One in the Fever series HERE Happy reading, dear ones.


  1. Hi, Tonya and Susan. This is a wonderful interview.
    I've enjoyed your Fever books very much. Haven't quite finished book three (a few roadblocks in life have prevented reading lately, but I'm getting back to it) which reminds me I must write a review for book two. I've enjoyed how you've incorporated many of the aspects from your own life into this fictional series, and your writer voice is so strong. Love that authenticity! Wishing you huge success.

    1. Thank you so much, Robena! I'm SO thankful for all the encouragement and advice you've given me! Susan's right - you truly do rock :-D

  2. Loved learning more about another LARA sister! Tonya, your covers are gorgeous and the series sounds riveting!

    1. Samanthe, thanks for stopping by.

    2. Thank you so much, Samanthe! I love my cover designer (Marisa, at Cover Me Darling) :)

  3. Great to find another recovering attorney finding joy in writing romance. Setting your books in the world of ballroom dancing sounds like such fun. They look like great books.

    1. Thank you, Allison! You're a recovering attorney too, haha! I love that term :) Yes, romance writing is a wonderful outlet, isn't it?


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