Today we are very excited to share an interview with Author Miriam Landis (Lauren in the Limelight)!
Meet the Author: Miriam Landis
Miriam Landis is a faculty member at the Pacific Northwest Ballet. She was a LitCamp fellow, and an assistant editor at Simon & Schuster, Hyperion, and the Amazon Books team. A Stanford grad, she was also a student at the School of American Ballet and a professional ballerina with Miami City Ballet. When not writing, teaching, or dancing, she enjoys life on Lake Washington alongside her husband and four children. In addition to Lauren in the Limelight, she is the author of two young adult novels, Girl in Motion and Girl on Pointe (previously published as Breaking Pointe). Learn more at www.miriamlandis.com.
About the Book: Lauren in the Limelight
As she begins 6th grade, Lauren Lightfoot wants nothing more than to get her first pair of pointe shoes, enjoy her love for ballet, and spend time with her friends. Lauren and her friends Bryan and Serena are challenged to define themselves both on stage and in the world when they audition for the Pacific Northwest Ballet School and compete for roles in the spring recital.
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Inspiration for Lauren in the Limelight is everywhere in my life. Of course, I was a ballet student and a professional, but for the last twelve years, I’ve been on the Pacific Northwest Ballet School faculty, where I teach dance students of all ages. I’m surrounded by people just like the characters in the book. My kids are also an inspiration—I have four who are all ballet students at PNB, and my oldest, 11-year-old twins, are about to perform in PNB’s Nutcracker.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I love all the characters (even the very flawed adults), but if I had to pick one with a special place in my heart, it’s Bryan. I was the most afraid to write him since, as a middle-aged mom, I’m nothing like a 12-year-old Black boy who wants to dance on pointe. But I’ve known many versions of his character in my life, and I realized that if I didn’t write him into this book, he probably wouldn’t exist in literature at all. Because he’s such a symbol and reflection of one of the big themes in the novel—being true to who you are inside even if the outside world doesn’t see you that way—I had to include him. He’s also a bit of my utopian vision of the future ballet world, where everyone has a place. So, it was essential for me to get him right on the page, and I hope readers who feel I didn’t have the right to tackle a character so different from me will understand and respect that I did my best to portray him authentically.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The title came about halfway through the novel, I think? The first draft of the book was only told from Lauren’s point of view, so the title sprung out of that.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I don’t want to give too much away, but I’m most proud of Bryan’s final scene at the Spring Celebration. The moment with his bully is a huge turning point for him, and I had to figure out how to let him do what he needed without alienating the reader.
YABC: Thinking way back to the beginning, what’s the most important thing you’ve learned as a writer from then to now?
I’ve learned over many years that writing is a craft, much like ballet. You improve at creative work by doing it, studying it, and failing at it, and improvement comes slowly after years and years of hard work.
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I love the shoes so much! My illustrator, Jill Cecil, did an incredible job. Her art reflects ballet’s aesthetic, and we were always on the same wavelength with our vision for the project. The shoes are visually stunning and a perfect symbol for many themes in the book.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2023?
I’m excited to read The Wildest Sun by Asha Lemmie. This adult historical novel chronicles a young woman’s search for the larger-than-life literary figure she believes to be her father.
YABC: What’s a book you’ve recently read and loved?
I just finished Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver. It was so sad, but I enjoyed it and loved the protagonist’s voice. She is such a fantastic writer.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
I’m about to release new and fully revised editions of my two older YA novels, Girl in Motion and Girl on Pointe (previously published as Breaking Pointe). I’ve written a new introduction catching readers up on the last two decades since I first wrote them, and they have fabulous new covers featuring Pacific Northwest Ballet’s Sarah-Gabrielle Ryan.
YABC: What is the main message or lesson you would like your reader to remember from this book?
I hope readers watch the characters in Lauren in the Limelight grow and face their challenges and through them, be inspired to be who they are inside toward the outside world.
Title: Lauren in the Limelight
Author: Miriam Landis
Illustrator: Jill Cecil
Release Date: October 17
Publisher: Rhododendron Press
Genre: Middle Grade Fiction
Age Range: 9 and up