Why College Romance?

Dance For MeGuest Blog by Helena Newbury, author of Dance For Me

I’m a New Adult Romance author who loves writing about what happens when love and dreams collide with the real world. I wrote my first novel, Dance For Me , in daily chunks in a very busy, very noisy coffee shop, which meant I had to order a black Americano every hour, on the hour, to keep my seat and wound up wired on caffeine most days. Unlike my characters, I can’t dance.

Why College Romance?

I’ve always been fascinated by college as a setting for romance. Think about it. You’ve got your first real responsibilities—there’s no one looking over your shoulder, day-to-day, so it’s up to you to balance classes, parties, romance and in many cases at least one job. You’re living away from home, figuring out how to cook and how to stretch your money to the end of the month. You’re free to make mistakes. You hit the age at which you can legally drink. Maybe where you’re living is a long way from home, and it certainly isn’t the same as home (I went to college with a girl who’d never seen snow before).

College is a sort of junction point, where lots of threads of peoples’ lives knit together. Much of your life before that point was in some way leading up to college. Much of your life afterwards—your friends, your job, your beliefs—will be influenced by your experiences at college. And while you’re there, you collide with people from a thousand different backgrounds who’ll be going on to a thousand different futures. You have a chance—possibly the best chance you’ll ever have—to reinvent yourself, stripping away everything you hated about yourself in high school and becoming the person you always wanted to be. Simultaneously, everyone else is trying to do the same thing, so you’re never quite sure who’s putting on a front, and that goes for both sexes. Is he who he seems, or is he just trying to get my panties off? That all generates a huge amount of energy and tension, and energy and tension are like crack cocaine for romance writers.

I wanted to create a place that kept all the drama of college—the rivalries, the pressure to study while working in a bar to pay your rent—but added the glamour and pressure of showbusiness. What if you find you’re competing with your best friend for a part in the same TV show? What if you’re playing a solo at Carnegie Hall and you can’t concentrate because you think you might be pregnant? What if you finally meet the guy of your dreams…and he makes you blow the biggest dance audition of your career? What I came up with was Fenbrook Academy, a performing arts college in New York. Fenbrook has its jocks (the dancers), its cool kids (the actors) and its geeks (the musicians). The academy’s tagline is Come Follow Your Dreams, and Dance For Me exists at that razor’s edge where dreams meet harsh reality. It’s college life, turned up to 11 and it’s been massive fun to write.

What’s college life to you: something in the future or something in the past? What do you want to happen, or what do you wish you could go back and do differently?

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