Dancing with words: A Journey from Ballet to Bestsellers with Eleanor Dixon

PHOTO: Eleanor Dixon, the enchantress of words, captured in a moment of contemplation amidst the rustic charm of her Shropshire smallholding. A balletic fusion of authorial grace and the serenity of rural life.

“Renowned author Eleanor Dixon, a former professional dancer, shares her enchanting journey from ballet stages to bestselling novels in an exclusive interview. With a captivating mix of ballet, ghosts, and globetrotting adventures, Eleanor’s tales, exemplified by “THE GRACEFUL GHOST” and “TALLY AND THE ANGEL,” weave magic that has earned her well-deserved accolades.

Immersed in the enchanting world of classical ballet during her school years at a specialised girls’ boarding school, Eleanor Dixon leapt into a thrilling four-year professional dance career, across the European stage. Athens, Greece, became the backdrop for her next adventure, where she not only founded and ran her own ballet school but also lent her skills as a volunteer veterinary nurse, fuelled by an insatiable love for animals.”


Returning to England with her horse and cat, Eleanor now lives on a Shropshire smallholding with her husband, surrounded by an eclectic mix of farm animals and a perpetual stream of pets. However, it was during her Grecian escapades that she discovered her genuine passion: writing. First prize in an adult Fairy Story competition hosted by Writing Magazine marked the beginning of her literary journey, fuelled by the desire to bring magic and excitement to her readers.

Initially drawn to children’s literature upon her return to England, the demands of caring for Highland Cattle, sheep, hens, and a menagerie of pets, coupled with her global travels, temporarily shifted her focus. Yet, undeterred, she channelled her storytelling prowess into daily journals and lively travel blogs, weaving tales of her adventures.

Now fully immersed in the world of writing, “THE GRACEFUL GHOST” was her debut self-published sensation. The book, a dazzling reflection of her ballet-boarding school and teenage escapades, shot to fame with a prestigious shortlisting for the UKSelfies21 Award. This success fuelled the birth of a captivating series, with “Ballet School Boys”, “Ballet School Rumours” and “Triple Trouble at Amberwood” continuing the mesmerising tales of resident ghosts, Grace and Rodney. The series has also received a further two awards from The Wishing Shelf.

But the excitement doesn’t stop there. Eleanor is also working on an epic six-book series titled “TALLY AND THE ANGEL.” Tally and her angel embark on jaw-dropping adventures from India to Canada’s North Yukon and Japan, with plans to traverse the globe, including stops in Greece, Egypt, Peru, and beyond. Each book in the series is a thrilling tapestry, weaving in an extra story at the beginning of every chapter, unravelling the mysteries of mystical elements.

Driven by an unyielding passion for writing, she ensures the professional refinement of her works, subjecting them to thorough third-party editing and proofreading before they grace the printed page. Eleanor Dixon has won multiple awards with her middle-grade stories including being chosen as runner-up in ALLi’s “The Art of the Title“ award, 2023 with THE GRACEFUL GHOST.

What kind of reader were you as a child?
I was a bookworm! My mum always knew she could find me sprawled on the cozy carpet in my room, with my feet on the radiator during winter, totally absorbed in my favourite books. Enid Blyton, The Chronicles of Narnia – I devoured them all!

Are there any classic novels that you only recently read for the first time?
Ashamedly, yes! I only got around to reading To Kill a Mockingbird last summer. What a gem! It’s a bit embarrassing, but discovering such a masterpiece at my age was kind of special. I now find myself recommending it every time I’m asked for a book recommendation.

When did you start writing fiction?
Writing has been a lifelong affair for me. My favourite homework was creative writing essays. I loved doing them so much; I used to write my classmates’ essays for them for them as well. But my serious dive into fiction began in 1996. A scenario in my head turned into a story after a friend encouraged me to ‘write it down!’ It was my first (terrible and never published) book! After that, I embarked on a distance-learning creative writing course, and passed with flying colours, winning first place in an adult fairy tale competition for the prestigious Writing Magazine. Fairy tales do come true!

In what ways are your books influenced by your life?
You know the saying, “write what you know”? Well, my ballet boarding school days inspired the Amberwood Hall series. The ghost element of the story, which came from a different school, has been with me since I was ten years old. I only attended that school for a year before deciding to take up ballet seriously. THE GRACEFUL GHOST was originally intended as a standalone story, but when it was shortlisted in the UKSelfies21, my editor declared it just had to be a series! Four books and three awards later, Amberwood Hall has become everyone’s favourite haunted ballet school.
Tally’s adventures mirror my own travels, both as a professional dancer and, later, with my husband. Tally only goes to countries I have been to and can describe from firsthand experience. Maybe that’s why readers say they really feel as if they are there.
And as for the angel? Let’s just say, unexplained angelic interventions have sprinkled my life, so why not my stories? The TALLY AND THE ANGEL series also boasts two awards!

What books and authors have impacted your writing career?
The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant by Stephen R. Donaldson kicked things off. I love Donaldson’s writing style. Always in the background has been C.S. Lewis. I feel that the character of Jophiel (from Tally and the Angel) is deeply influenced by my life-long search for Aslan. Eventually, it was J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter who sparked my desire to write Middle School stories.

Who are your favourite writers? Are there any who aren’t as widely known as they should be, whom you’d recommend in particular?
J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Sebastian Faulks and Amor Towles are my absolute favourites! But keep an eye out for Caroline Boxall – she is a hidden gem in the middle-grade/YA world. And I’m a big fan of John Ironmonger for his delightful diversity.

What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?
Confession time: I’ve read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings nineteen times! In English eighteen times and once in Greek, which I speak fluently having lived in Athens for twenty years.

What do you do when you’re not writing?
Animals are my passion! From dogs and cats to coaching for Riding for the Disabled, my heart lies in the countryside with my furry friends. Pupil mentoring at the local secondary school keeps me busy and in touch with the ups and downs of modern day teenage life. It’s also a tremendous help for my writing. But I’m happiest walking my dogs. This is when I do my best thinking.

If you could choose to be anywhere in the world, where would you want to be?
Despite my extensive travels, I adore my home and prefer not to be anywhere else! Whilst I appreciate many people suffered from being confined to home during the Covid pandemic, for me it was like a dream come true. For the first time ever, I was able to watch the progress of an entire year in the garden and not worry about having to leave my pets while I travel.

What advice would you give to other aspiring indie authors?
Rule number one: Never publish anything without rigorous, professional, third-party editing and proofreading. It breaks my heart to see indie books that don’t meet a decent standard – let’s keep the indie publishing name shining!

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