Codename Dancer (A Dani Spevak Mystery) by Amanda BriceAspiring ballerina Dani Spevak is thrilled when hit TV show Teen Celebrity Dance Off comes to the campus of her performing arts boarding school. She trades the barre for the ballroom and gets set to cha-cha-cha to stardom with Hollywood wonderboy Nick Galliano.
At first their partnership is awkward, because Dani is in awe of her longtime teen idol crush. But soon their chemistry is heating up the dance floor and the attraction moves into real life.
Her excitement is short-lived, because someone wants her off the show. Bombs, poisoning, arson… Will Dani’s 15 minutes of fame be over before she reaches age 15? Dani and her friends are suddenly at the center of some serious sabotage. And if she doesn’t find out who is behind it, her next pirouette could be her last.
It’s like Nancy Drew in toe shoes in this light-hearted tween mystery, a finalist for Romance Writers of America’s Golden Heart® Award for Best Young Adult Romance.
I’m a killer. A celebrity killer, that is.
I don’t mean to be, of course. But I have this unfortunate habit of celebrities who I’ve mentioned in my manuscripts just up and dying on me.
The first instance happened in my yet-unpublished manuscript, Party Like It’s 1899. There’s a scene where my characters are in a club in Paris and in walks Heath Ledger. Needless to say, I wrote that scene before January 22, 2008. (Actually, it was in fall 2007.) So I had to scramble to rewrite that scene before my agent sent the book out on submission, otherwise it would have been just a little bit weird and insensitive.
When I was editing Codename: Dancer for final release a few months ago, I discovered that I’d described a girl with a breathy voice as having a “weird Brittany Murphy breathy thing going on.” Again, that scene had clearly originally been written before Ms. Murphy’s untimely demise, so I had to come up with a different description.
I’m not sure you actually can attribute my most recent celebrity kill to me, though. Elizabeth Taylor passed on March 23, 2011, but I didn’t actually mention her by name in Codename: Dancer. However, she was clearly the inspiration for the founder of the arts school that my characters attend.
I know there have been a few other celebrities I’ve had to write out of a scene after they passed, but I can’t think of the names just offhand at the moment. But I’ve had to rewrite at least 3 other times for the same reason.
I’m getting a bit superstitious about such things. I know it sounds crazy, but I’m almost at the point where I’m afraid to name-drop any celebrities in my stories anymore, for fear I’m giving them a death sentence. Snooki and Katy Perry, please be careful. I mentioned you both on page 1 in Codename: Dancer.
Readers, what do you think? Do you find it weird if you read a book that references a celebrity who is no longer alive? Or if a landmark (such as the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center) plays a role in a book and it’s not there anymore? Does it bother you? Should I stop name-dropping celebrities? Is it potentially dating my work?
Amanda Brice lives outside Washington, DC with her husband and toddler daughter. An intellectual property attorney for a large federal government agency, she combines her love of writing with her legal career by speaking on basic copyright and trademark law on the writers’ conference circuit. Her debut novel, Codename: Dancer, was released in April. You can learn more about Amanda at www.amandabrice.net.