‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2015 with Susan Adrian

‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays is a special seasonal feature on Pop! Goes The Reader in which some of my favourite authors help me to celebrate the spirit of the season and spread a little holiday cheer. So, pour yourself a cup of hot chocolate and snuggle in by the fireside as they answer the question: “What does the holiday season mean to you?” You can find a complete list of the participants and their scheduled guest post dates Here!


About Susan Adrian

Susan Adrian is a 4th-generation Californian who somehow stumbled into living in Montana. She danced in a ballet company and worked in the fields of exotic pet-sitting, clothes-schlepping, and bookstore management. She’s settled in, mostly, as a scientific editor. When she’s not with her family, she keeps busy researching crazy stuff, traveling, and writing more books.

Author Links: WebsiteBlogTwitterTumblrFacebookGoodreads

For me, Christmastime isn’t only about Christmas itself, though I love all the trappings of the holiday: the tree, decorated with all of our family ornaments, each with its own story; the Christmas carols (only after Thanksgiving, of course); the stockings stuffed full of treats on Christmas morning. I love the sense of anticipation and joy the season can bring. But since I was little, this time of year has also been intimately entwined with The Nutcracker ballet.

I first saw The Nutcracker when I was seven years old…and I fell in love. I remember sitting in the audience in the big Convention Center Theater in Sacramento, all dressed up, completely enraptured by the tree-growing scene. It was one of my first theater experiences, and it was magical. I told my mom that I wanted to be in that ballet. I wanted to be Clara, the star.

Never mind that I didn’t take ballet then. My mom took me seriously, and enrolled me in a local ballet school the following year. It was a late start, but I stuck with it. I took classes regularly. I progressed. After I’d been dancing for a year or so, I auditioned for the Sacramento Ballet’s Nutcracker. I didn’t get in.

But we saw it again anyway, and I still loved it. I kept dancing, kept taking more classes. The next year, when I was 10, I auditioned again, and I got a part. The smallest part you could have in that production, a Marshmallow Child. Second-cast. But I didn’t care. (I can still remember the dance I did as a Marshmallow Child, when I hear that music. Ask me sometime.) That Christmas I got to rehearse on Saturdays in the Sacramento Ballet studios, and get ready with all the other Marshmallows in the big dressing room backstage at the Convention Center. I was thrilled. But I wasn’t done.

The next year I moved up the ranks and was a Party Child, a guest in the big opening party scene. Still a minor part, and still second-cast. But progress. I worked harder.

The next year my mom surprised me by enrolling me in the Sacramento Ballet school instead of the local school. I started commuting every day and taking classes directly under Mrs. Crockett, the Artistic Director of the Sacramento Ballet Company. That year, when I was 12, I got party child again…first-cast. And a second-cast lamb in the second act Shepherd and Shepherdess dance. I went on pointe.

The next year, when I was 13, I got to be Clara.

It was absolutely a dream come true. Now I was the one getting the Nutcracker from Drosselmeyer in the party scene. I was the one on the dark stage alone with a candle, running from giant mice, during that magical tree-growing ceremony. I got to ride up in a giant balloon with the Prince at the end, with everyone waving goodbye to me. I had achieved my dream.

The next year I danced as Chinese tea in the second act, as well as a snowflake and a flower. But when I was 15, it all came to an end. I had too many injuries, and there was too much politics in the studio. I quit, for good. Eight years of my Christmases meaning Nutcracker was suddenly done.

I couldn’t even listen to the Nutcracker suite for years without wanting to cry. I knew every beat of that music—I could see the sets and costumes in my head, hear the way our orchestra played it. I knew the steps to almost every dance. But it wasn’t mine anymore. It was something I’d given up, something I’d lost. It was most of what I regretted about leaving ballet.

I didn’t see the ballet again live until my daughter was little, and I wanted her to experience it more than it hurt to watch. I enjoyed it, as an audience member, but it still wasn’t mine. Still when I heard Nutcracker music at Christmas it was with more nostalgia and regret than joy.

Until this year.

A couple years ago I wrote a fantasy/magical realism middle grade novel centered around the Nutcracker, and the main character, a girl who gets to be Clara. I’ve rewritten the novel several times, to get it just right, but this year we sold it to Random House. Nutcracked will be published Fall/Christmas 2017. The story is full of many of my experiences, mixed in with a ton of magic and friends and family.

The Nutcracker is mine again. This year, for the first time in decades, I have listened to the Nutcracker music on purpose, with absolute joy. My Nutcracker collection is out loud and proud on the sideboard. I feel like it’s okay again to feel all those deep feelings I have for the show, for the memories. For all of it.

I’m doing edits on Nutcracked right now. Once again Nutcracker is tangled with my Christmas…and everything is richer for it.

Title Tunnel Vision
Author Susan Adrian
Pages 320 Pages
Target Audience & Genre Young Adult, Paranormal, Science Fiction
Published January 20th, 2015 by St. Martin’s Griffin
Find It On GoodreadsAmazon.comChapters

Jake Lukin just turned 18. He’s decent at tennis and Halo, and waiting to hear on his app to Stanford. But he’s also being followed by a creep with a gun, and there’s a DARPA agent waiting in his bedroom. His secret is blown.

When Jake holds a personal object, like a pet rock or a ring, he has the ability to “tunnel” into the owner. He can sense where they are, like a human GPS, and can see, hear, and feel what they do. It’s an ability the government would do anything to possess: a perfect surveillance unit who could locate fugitives, spies, or terrorists with a single touch.

Jake promised his dad he’d never tell anyone about his ability. But his dad died two years ago, and Jake slipped. If he doesn’t agree to help the government, his mother and sister may be in danger. Suddenly he’s juggling high school, tennis tryouts, flirting with Rachel Watkins, and work as a government asset, complete with 24-hour bodyguards.

Forced to lie to his friends and family, and then to choose whether to give up everything for their safety, Jake hopes the good he’s doing — finding kidnap victims and hostages, and tracking down terrorists — is worth it. But he starts to suspect the good guys may not be so good after all. With Rachel’s help, Jake has to try to escape both good guys and bad guys and find a way to live his own life instead of tunneling through others.


2 responses to “‘Tis The Season: Authors Talk Holidays 2015 with Susan Adrian”

  1. Alexa S. says:

    It is so, so, so cool that you got to be Clara!! I never got to be more than ensemble when I danced in the Nutcracker as a little girl, but it was still one of the most magical recitals I ever got to perform in. <3
    Alexa S. recently posted…Tunes & Tales: RevivalMy Profile

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