We love discovering debut authors, the more for us to read, the better! Which is why we are so excited for Alexis Daria‘s first book, Take the Lead, which is out this week! We wanted to know more about the dance-themed romance, and how she went to the Fame High school — and Alexis kindly obliged!
Name: Alexis Daria
Book: Take the Lead
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Series: The Dance Off Series
Current Home: Manhattan
Childhood Home: Bronx, NY
Author Icon: Nora Roberts
Favorite Word: Turquoise
Was this the first full-length novel you ever wrote? That distinction belongs to a fanfic I wrote when I was sixteen, but the first full-length romance I wrote was a Regency historical in 2013. Yes, it had a duke.
Take the Lead was a Golden Heart finalist, which is amazing! How do you feel that victory affected your journey to publication? Being a Golden Heart finalist has been an incredible experience, and brought wonderful new communities into my writing life. When I received the phone call, things were already happening behind the scenes, so I’m not sure how much it affected my publishing journey. But it has certainly made my debut year extra special, and I had a blast at RWA!
Tell us about your day job (current or former). I’m a private tutor for kids. I help with math, reading comprehension, writing and test prep. Sometimes this involves analyzing Star Wars.
How did you start writing? I had some ambitious English teachers in middle school who gave a lot of creative writing assignments. To my surprise, I enjoyed them! I started writing longer stories at home and never stopped.
What was it like when you got “The Call”? When I got The Call, I had just received a form rejection on the full manuscript two minutes earlier, so it was pretty great! I was on the phone trying to sound cool, but I was also frantically typing one-word all-caps exclamations into the group chat I have going with my critique partners, to make it feel like they were there with me.
Did you dance when you were younger? If so, how did that influence your novel? I love dance, and I only wish I were better at it. I did take dance classes when I was a kid, but the novel was influenced more by the dancers I’ve known in my life. I went to “the Fame School,” like the movie, although I majored in fine arts, and I’m fascinated by the way creatives and performers move through the world, and the internal and external definitions of “success.”
Anything you’d like to add? Writing Take the Lead really drove home the importance of including positive Latinx representation and a variety of archetypes in my stories. There aren’t enough Latinx characters in media across the board, let alone diverse, multifaceted characters who aren’t propped up by stereotypes. I’m trying to do my part to contribute, while also focusing on themes like healthy female friendships and complicated family dynamics. And, of course, paying tribute to the dance movies and shows I love. Even if you’re not a dance fan, I hope you’ll find Gina and Stone’s journey relatable!
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