The Enchanted Sonata

"The Enchanted Sonata," a re-telling of the classic "Nutcracker" ballet, is a Young Adult novel written by West Point author Heather Dixon Wallwork. She also designed the cover. 

WEST POINT — For West Point author Dixon Wallwork, telling stories isn't limited to one medium. 

As a storyboard artist, she's helped bring to life beloved characters for Disney's Infinity video game and fulfilling her lifelong dream of drawing for a living.

And, as a writer, she now has three published novels under her belt —including "The Enchanted Sonata," a recently released re-telling of the classic "The Nutcracker" ballet with a touch of "The Pied Piper" thrown in to the mix. 

But sometimes, separating the two styles can be a bit difficult when she needs to get to work.

"(Storyboarding) definitely sticks on your mind and it manifests yourself on writing," Wallwork said. "One of the things I have to do… I can’t do drawing and writing in the same place. So I get on the Frontrunner and ride it all the way Provo and back to get in the right mind frame (for writing). That’s my office. It works really well."

Wallwork's first creative love has always been storyboarding. She remembers reading comics in the Standard-Examiner as a child and drawing comics of her own on the back of her homework. At 14, she learned about storyboard artists and decided that was the career for her. 

It wasn't until she was attending Brigham Young University and majoring in animation that she fell into novel writing. 

"I took some creative writing classes because I thought it would be good for me to learn," she said. "For one of the story assignments... I started working on a novel and it kind of consumed me." 

That novel became "Entwined," a Young Adult re-telling of the "12 Dancing Princesses" fairy tale, and was published by Harper Collins in 2011. She followed up with a second novel, "Illusionarium," in 2015. 

"The Enchanted Sonata" is her first independently published novel, released this October. In the novel, 15-year-old Clara Stahlbaum plans to marry a handsome pianist and settle down to a life full of music. But when Clara receives a mysterious, magical nutcracker, she is whisked away to his world where she must face a magician who uses music as magic. 

Wallwork has been working on the novel since 2014, after she and fellow BYU artist Jake Wyatt came up with the idea for a Nutcracker/Pied Piper crossover project. However, Wyatt became too busy to work on the project and told Wallwork to "go ahead and write the book."

"It was very sweet of him," she said. "He planted the seeds and I made them grow. I have to credit him for the idea for that."  

"The Enchanted Sonata" is her second re-telling of a familiar story — something she says she enjoys doing to "fix all the holes in the plot and stuff."

"I like to think scenarios and threads and things that are able to build the world. What could happen, what the possibilities are... to fill the gaps that are in the ballet," she said. 

For fans of "The Nutcracker," Wallwork kept plenty of elements from the ballet. The giant rats, for instance, became a main theme of the book.

"The big theme talks about how if we have anger or something and we feed this anger, it turns into a rat. The three main characters find out they have rats inside of them," she said. "The story is about how they overcome their rat and get rid of it."

Because of her storyboarding background, Wallwork says her novels are "very scene focused." One of the adjustments she has to make when writing a novel is focusing more on a character's inner thoughts and motivations.

"When it comes to doing storyboarding and screenwriting, everything is very, very visual," she explained. "If we want to show what the character is thinking, we make them blink... or have them look and notice something. In a book, you have to write the character's thoughts down."

However, Wallwork did have the opportunity to bring her two mediums together for her most recent release. She also designed the cover of "The Enchanted Sonata."

"It felt so great... seeing the cover come together," she said. "I'm just really excited about this book and Christmas." 

"The Enchanted Sonata" can be purchased on Amazon.com

To learn more about Dixon Wallwork and to view her art, visit www.story-monster.com

Reach city editor Jessica Kokesh at 801-625-4229 or jkokesh@standard.net. You can also follow her on Twitter at @JessicaKokesh or Facebook.com/ByJessKokesh.

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