American Girl just posted an interview with Erin Falligant, who will be writing the Girl of the Year 2024 books "Lila: My Journal" and "Lila, Going for Gold"! Here's what Erin had to say about writing Lila's story:
Why is Lila's story important? - "Lila teaches girls the importance and power of goal setting. She sets a goal in gymnastics—to make the Xcel Gold team—and then gives her all to try to achieve that goal. But she learns to make time for friendships and other interests too, like horseback riding. Lila also faces a common crossroads for girls her age: a changing friendship with her best friend, Katie. Lila’s story teaches girls that goals don’t always have to be about sports, medals, and trophies. An equally important goal might be to allow a friendship to change and grow over time."
What was it like creating Lila? - "So much fun! Researching Lila’s story meant sitting in on Xcel girls’ gymnastics practices and meets. I was able to chalk up my hands and mount the bars, just as Lila does. I watched girls learning their routines for the first time and battling nerves at meets. I also visited a horse camp for kids, where I learned to ride and had to overcome a bit of fear, just like Lila does at one point in her story. I spent months immersing myself in Lila’s world, which gave me an appreciation for both the joys and challenges she experiences. And the joys far outweighed the challenges!"
What would you like girls to know about Lila? - "Lila is an everyday girl. She’s not a star athlete and didn’t grow up riding horses. She comes to these sports like most girls do—she’s curious about them, discovers she has a passion for them, and then works hard to develop skills and excel. Readers will see how very hard Lila works, and hopefully they’ll realize that they, too, can pursue and excel in passions of their own."
What is your favorite part of Lila's story? - "I love the role that animals play in Lila’s story—like Hollyhock, the gorgeous Palomino that Lila falls in love with, and the goat and Corgi that her little brother Jack bonds with at horse camp. Friendships come in all shapes, sizes, and breeds. Animal friendships like these sometimes support kids through rough times with human friendships. I have a kitty at home, just like Lila’s friend Katie does, and she keeps me company while I write. As a lifelong animal lover, I had fun bringing Lila’s four-legged friends to life!"