Author Interview & Giveaway: This Little Light by Lori Lansens
Sometimes a book comes out at just the right time. This Little Light feels like exactly that – a story about rebellion in a not-too-distant future where Christianity has taken over politics (ahem, Pence and the Supreme Court this week, anyone?). We checked in with Lori Lansens about who her MC is, what it was like writing in a compact timeline, and what she hopes readers will take from This Little Light. Check out the interview below and pick up this timely story, out Tuesday!
This Little Lightby Lori Lansens
Published by: The Overlook Press
on August 11, 2020
Genres: Young Adult, Dystopian
An urgent bulletin from an all-too-believable near future where a smart young woman who questions the new world order is accused of being a terrorist—an intense, unputdownable read by the author of The Girls.
Taking place over the course of 48 hours in 2024, This Little Light draws readers into a universe of born-again Christians and celebrity worship where abortion is once again illegal and both religion and surveillance run amok. Heroine Rory Miller and her best friend, Fee, are on the run after a bomb explodes at their elite Christian private school in their triple-gated California community during their American Chastity Ball, where girls in white gowns pledge to their fathers that they will remain virgins until marriage. As the girls struggle to survive while following their own attempted capture on social media and cable news—crowdsourced by Christian zealots and bounty hunters—Rory blogs their story in real time, determined to leave behind a record in their own words in case they don’t make it out alive.
In This Little Light, bestselling author Lori Lansens weaves together the pressing issues of our time—women’s rights, income disparity, religion and politics, immigration—and di˝ uses them through the authentic voice of a 16-year-old navigating a frightening reality. The result is an intense, urgent, and enthralling read about an all-too-believable near future—and the world we already live in.
Interview with Lori Lansens
Tell us about Rory. Who is she at her core and what motivates her?
Rory Miller is a sixteen-year-old girl whose been raised in the Christian faith in a wealthy, gated community in Calabasas, California, arguably the richest city in the country. As she enters womanhood, Rory questions the hyper-consumerist world around her in this near-future (2024) America where two terms (and more) under an unsuitable and dangerous leader, supported by Christian fanatics, has completely re-shaped the country.
In Rory’s world, Christian forces dominate politics, the patriarchy is stronger than ever, abortion is illegal, and purity balls – where a young girl pledges to her father to save her virginity until marriage – are common. Rory’s a writer, a blogger, and a relentless searcher. She’s filled with anger at the injustice she sees around her, and outrage at the religious hypocrisy she’s grown up with. Her parents, immigration lawyers, gave her a social conscience but she didn’t always know what to do with it. Now, as she’s been hunted, wrongly accused of a crime, and in hiding, she’s forced to confront her own hypocrisies. She’s tender-hearted, justice-seeking, insecure, confident, and somewhat naïve, a teen girl looking for hope in a landscape thick with betrayal.
The events in This Little Light all take place within 48 hours. What was it like to write under such a timeframe? How was it different than writing your previous stories?
I felt a real kinship with Rory as I was writing this book. I was suffering from insomnia during that time, often working in the early morning hours while my children were still asleep. Hunched over my computer in the dark, I imagined Rory hunched over hers. I felt that to reflect the urgency and peril of her situation as she’s been unjustly accused of setting a bomb at the American Virtue Ball and is on the run with her best friend, Fee. I felt that the story demanded a first-person narration and uncensored angst – like Holden Caulfield in The Catcher in the Rye. I also wanted to reflect the frenzy and chaos following a nationally publicized trigger event like the one in the book and to allow Rory to share it with us with all of the inherent uncertainty and tension. Writing a story that takes place over decades vs a story that takes place over 48 hours was not more or less challenging.
The world you imagined is set not too far in the future and is built on much of the political world we live in now. What do you want readers to leave the story feeling?
I started to write this book in the summer of 2015. Writing Rory’s story was a reaction to the changing political landscape. The enthusiastic support from the Christian Right, of a candidate whose misogyny, racism, anti-immigration sentiments and anti-LGBTQ stance, were on full display, frightened me. When powerful people believe that God is on their side in the oppression of other people – that’s the territory of This Little Light. Beginning this book was a way to harness the fear I felt then.
It was never my intention to predict the future but to construct a near-future, imagining how the country might be changed – the hyperbolic religiosity – the racism – the continued oppression of women and snatching back of hard-won rights – the vigilantism – the anti-immigration measures leading to utterly tragic lives for the undocumented. The near-future world I was writing about, as time went on, felt less like the allegory I first imagined and more closely aligned than I could have dreamed, with real life.
I have faith in our young people. They’ll create that solid footing the country needs. We want young people like Rory Miller to check their privilege and to continue to question and resist and protest and object. We want those young people from all walks of life to keep being brave and keep looking for justice, and to keep sharing their stories. So, I suppose I hope that readers experience the entire story again when they close the book, as it’s all put into stark relief, and hear Rory’s voice, and feel hopeful that truth and justice will prevail.