Today’s author interview with Lakita Wilson is finally here! I was so excited when I read Last Chance Dance by Lakita Wilson. It was such a great read that I could not wait to get the chance to chat with the author.
Lakita, welcome! Tell us more about Last Chance to Dance.
LAST CHANCE DANCE is a love letter to new beginnings. Leila Bean, a high school senior, is dumped by Dev, her boyfriend of the last four years. At first, she wallows in confusion, disbelief, and self-pity. But, at the insistence of her best friend, Bree, she decides to participate in her high school’s Last Chance Dance tradition. Everyone picks old and new crushes. You go on a date with whoever you match with and attend the dance with your favorite crush.
What was your favorite part of crafting this rom-com?
Thinking up a million different scenarios that would force Leila to cross someone off her crush list. The whole idea of LAST CHANCE DANCE is to end up with the person you want to be with most. But in order to choose that person, you have to know for sure who you don’t want. Dating disasters might be my new favorite trope, lol. I started thinking of terrible dates for my side characters, too, lol.
Who was the most adventurous character to write?
I loved creating each of Leila’s crushes. My favorite is teen Instagram model Kai Ballard. I’m obsessed with pop culture and completely convinced Instamodels with deep quotes will have their place in pop culture’s Hall of Fame. The fact that any high school classmate, at any time, could post a photo of themselves “smizing” in front of the Lincoln Memorial with a Maya Angelou quote in the captions and go viral?—both amazing and deliciously horrifying, haha. I wanted to help document this moment in social media history by creating a crush with perfect smize, abs, and hashtags.
Last Chance Dance by Lakita Wilson
Genre: YA Romance
Right before graduation, Leila’s BF breaks up with her. Devasted, her best friend reminds her there is still time fore Last Chance Dance. She invites three crushes and if they pick her back, BAM all-new relationship! Leila needs to figure who and what she wants before high school ends.
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Buy this Book: Amazon
What inspired you to bring Leila’s story to life?
Honestly? Because I hate the one true love narrative. People come, go or swap roles in our lives all the time. And that’s okay!
When I was exactly Leila’s age, I married my high school sweetheart because I thought I’d found my forever love. It was the morning of Prom, and I guess I was looking for a two-for-one deal on the dress? (insert major cringe here).
Looking back on that day, I must have thought I was in my “has everything figured out” era. But, realistically, I wasn’t finished discovering who I was and what worked best for me yet. I didn’t start growing into the person I recognize today until that marriage ended. That was when I, like Leila, began looking at my whole self instead of myself as one-half of a couple.
I enjoy experiencing romantic love now, but I never attach the word forever to it—even when my heart is full of the joy my partner brings me. I prefer trusting that love will grow, evolve, or end based on what feels right and makes the most sense to me and/or my partner.
I wrote Leila’s story for anyone who doubts their own love autonomy. I want everyone—especially teens since they are my core audience— to know they have the power to step into love when they’re ready and step out of it when it no longer feels in sync with their own personal journey.
I love the cover! Were you involved in the design process?
I was allowed to give my input, which ultimately meant making Pinterest boards and sending in lots of google images of JT from the City Girls and Janelle Monae’, lol. Ultimately, the cover is the brainchild and baby of the Vikings design team and my brilliant illustrator, Marcos Chin. Fun fact, while LAST CHANCE DANCE was in the production phase, I went to Las Vegas with friends and randomly saw one of Marcos’ sculptures featured at the hotel where I stayed. So, yeah, my illustrator is basically a rockstar.
How long did it take you to write Last Chance Dance?
I started drafting LAST CHANCE DANCE in 2019. But, it took quite a while to land on shelves because I was also writing a middle-grade and non-fiction book at the same time with the same editor. So, we would work on LAST CHANCE DANCE, put it aside, then work on another project. Then we would put that aside and work on the other project. It’s really exciting to see these projects finally hit shelves. I feel like I’ve been hiding away in a secret writer’s den forever, holding onto book secrets, lol.
I know every writer has a different writing process. What process do you follow?
My writing process has gotten completely out of hand, so any help reeling me back to reality would be greatly appreciated, haha. What started off as a baby writer, simply getting up in the wee hours of the morning to write, has evolved into needing a special comfy spot on the couch, wearing a thick onesie, thick socks, and an even thicker throw blanket tightly tucked around my entire torso. I must be wearing noise-blocking headphones with specific instrumentals blaring into my ears.
My fireplace must be on and roaring. But guess what? I’m too far away to properly enjoy the heat, so it’s for aesthetics only. The real heat comes from this rotating heater I placed three feet away from my special place on the couch. If all of this isn’t set up just so, I can’t write. Basically, I am the Miranda Priestly of writing. Well, without the assistant. Or the money. Or the fancy wardrobe. But, yes…to get these words on the page, I have needs, lol.
Is there one thing you hope readers take away from Last Chance to Dance?
I want readers to know that the end of high school is truly the beginning of the rest of your life. That nothing we plan for ourselves has to remain true. We are in control of us. We get to erase and change plans at any time, and there’s always room to pencil in some new discovery about ourselves and which direction we want to journey. When we lean into that, instead of expectation, we become really free to simply live and enjoy life.
Before I let you go, tell readers where they can find you on social media.
I’m @LakitaWrites on Twitter and Instagram. But I have to be honest. TikTok (@LakitaWilson) has become my favorite. It’s where I can be my most authentic theatre kid self, lol. Feel free to follow me on all platforms.
Thank you for joining me Lakita! I had so much fun chatting! Bookish Besties, be sure to drop an emoji or comment below! Tell me what you thought of my Author Interview with Lakita Wilson!