Rock Dancer

Rock Dancer’ is a CBCA Notable Book, and was first published by Thomas Lothian, South Melbourne.
‘Rock Dancer’ is available online as an ebook to purchase or borrow through Amazon Kindle Books.

Leah Norfolk is fourteen and one of the top gymnasts in the country.

At least she was until she failed to catch her best friend Morgan on the uneven bars and her life changed forever.

Now Morgan's got a broken back and Leah's climbing rock faces far away from the world of competitive gymnastics.

But Leah's past comes looking for her.

Was it an accident - or did Leah deliberately drop Morgan on that catastrophic day?

What's the book about?

Two fourteen-year-old elite gymnasts, Leah Norfolk and Morgan Stone, are competing for the final place in the Olympic training squad. They have been closest friends for seven years, training and travelling together.
While Leah's parents are worried about her competitive career, Morgan's parents have pushed their daughter too far, into injury and bulimia.

There is a tragic accident at training when Morgan falls from the uneven bars, while Leah is catching, and sustains a partial fracture of her neck.
Morgan's parent are furiously angry, holding Leah responsible, and saying that Leah deliberately dropped Morgan. Leah knows that with Morgan in hospital, she is almost guaranteed a place in the team.

Leah is publicly blamed for the accident and, haunted by the fear that she could have prevented the fall, was jealous or negligent, withdraws from Olympic selection.

Leah starts a new school and within three weeks, is taking part in an Outdoor Education climbing camp. Two of the other students on camp are Sarah Martin and Angie Lawson. (From 'Find Me a River'.) A third climber, Charity Oakes, and Leah strike sparks off each other from day one.
While Leah is on an Outdoor Ed camp, there is a climbing accident. Charity falls and Leah is partly responsible. Leah, deeply shocked, runs away from camp.
The students convince the staff members that Sarah is an expert tracker. Sarah, with Angie and Ji (the climbing teacher), tracks Leah through thick coastal scrub finally finding her seven kilometres from camp.

Eventually, Leah does resolve the past problems and establishes positive friendships with the other students, especially with Sarah, Angie, and Charity.

Comments from Bron Blake.

With "Rock Dancer", my spark for beginning this book was watching the brilliant Russian gymnast, Svetlana Khorkina, fall from the uneven bars during the Olympics. I immediately wondered how someone would feel if they had been in practice as a catcher and failed to prevent a fall like that. I'd also enjoyed writing the characters in 'Find me a River' so much that I was reluctant to let them go without developing the cousins, Angie and Sarah more. I was pleased to be able to use them again in this sequel, 'Rock Dancer', (Gippsland Trilogy, Part 2).

I wanted to write about someone who was at the same time young and vulnerable, but old and tough. To do that I needed to examine Leah's fractured state of mind, and her irrational thinking brought about by the trauma of the accident in the gym and the public scrutiny and denunciation she endured as a result.

I also wanted to explore the impact of loss of friendship, fears about jealousy, Leah's attempts to distance herself from her self and from her relationships with peers. I wanted to examine the pressure on young people in highly competitive activities and the effect this has on their lives.

Writing 'Rock Dancer' was much easier for me technically because it was my second long book and I'd made so many mistakes writing 'River', I'd learned heaps! (This was where I really learned the real value of write, write and write, because nothing else teaches you as well!)

I was also finding a more fluent 'style' and it was becoming easier to write clearly different 'voices' for my characters,… something I'd struggled with in 'River'.

Reviews of Rock Dancer:

'Bronwyn Blake clearly loves the Gippsland coast and lyrically evokes its grandeur, and the beauty of both the landscape and the creatures who inhabit it. She uses it skilfully both as a rich and dramatic backdrop and as a balm for Leah's psychological turmoil. Years 8 to 10 should love it.'
Sally Harding
     Magpies, Vol.7

'Rock Dancer' reads easily, is Australian, concerned with sport. Leah is a likable, credible character, to whom readers can relate. The themes are interesting and contemporary. This is a novel worth reading.'
Jean Stretch, Carnarvon
     Fiction Focus, Vol.16 #3 2002