The Music and the Mirror is about ballet, but most importantly, it’s about an intimidating ice queen, fierce rivalries and emotions, and healing. In honor of the novel’s translation into German, Lola Keeley talks to us about her stunning debut novel.
Can you tell us what your lesbian romance novel The Music and the Mirror is about?
It’s so nice to be talking about my debut novel again! The Music and the Mirror is set in the competitive world of New York ballet. Anna, a new company member seeking to prove herself, comes under the instruction of Victoria, a legendary ballerina in her own right.
Of course, they clash at first. Victoria is demanding, and Anna is intimidated. But with her talent and willingness to try, Anna slowly wins Victoria over, until she sees something special in Anna’s dancing and makes changes to show her off on stage.
Working together against enemies who want to take Victoria’s job as director, they get much closer. Will their season together be a triumph or a disaster? Will they end up together or are the challenges too great to overcome?
For readers who are not familiar with the topic of ballet, why will your lesbian romance novel still capture their hearts and interest?
While ballet is important to both main characters and I did tons of research, their love story is universal. What’s most important is that they’re both passionate, not necessarily that this passion is for ballet. Being in the arts means being able to explore the city of New York, ambition, disability, age, power, and trust.
All of those things make for a vibrant and interesting love story, even if you don’t care much about pliés and tutus.
The Music and the Mirror is about love, but it also tells a tale of power struggles and intrigue. Where did you get the inspiration for this story?
Originally in the form of fanfiction—at first the dynamic was inspired by Cat and Kara from Supergirl. Of course, once I got into the story, the characters and plot developed a life of their own.
I loved the idea of Anna learning from Victoria across the age gap between them, and also Victoria getting back some of her love of ballet after injury through Anna’s youth and vitality. They help each other, and they heal each other, even though sometimes they make each other crazy too. Ballet is an elite environment and fiercely competitive, so I wanted to explore the personalities that would thrive in that setting.
Do you enjoy watching ballet in your free time yourself? And if so, what is your favorite ballet?
My first love is musical theatre—lots of dancers there who trained in ballet, and other forms of dance too. I’ve always admired ballet, though, and developed a love of it while researching for the book. What these talented artists can do, the stories they can tell just with their bodies…it’s amazing, truly.
My favorite ballet is one we spend some time with in the story, Don Quixote. It’s a wonderful story in any form, but the ballet is especially beautiful, and heartbreaking in all the right places.
Lola Keeley is a writer and coder. After moving to London to pursue her love of theatre, she later wound up living every five-year-old’s dream of being a train driver on the London Underground. She has since emerged, blinking into the sunlight, to find herself writing books. She lives in Edinburgh, Scotland, with her wife and four cats.