Book Tour| Shannon in the Spotlight – Kalena Miller

With middle grade May right around the corner I’ve been trying to put together a TBR. So I was happy when the tour for Shannon in the Spotlight was announced. Sounds like a great book to read next month and I had the opportunity to interview the author. Today is my stop on the tour hosted by TBR and Beyond Tours, so keep on reading to find out more about this book and the author!

Shannon in the Spotlight by Kalena Miller
Genre: Middle Grade Contemporary
Publishing Date: April 25, 2023

After Shannon accidentally lands a lead role in the summer musical, she realizes she has bigger things to worry about than stage fright in this contemporary middle-school novel about strained friendships, the positive power of theater, and the realities of being a tween with OCD.

Shannon Carter never considered herself much of a theater person. Not like her two BFFs, Elise, an actress, and Fatima, a techie. Shannon’s always been content to stay backstage, helping wherever she can. But when the director of the summer musical hears Shannon singing, he encourages her to step out of the wings and into the spotlight.

At first, Shannon is hesitant. As a twelve-year-old with obsessive-compulsive disorder, she depends on routine. But when she braves the audition, she discovers that center stage is the one place where she doesn’t feel anxious. She lands a lead role, and everyone in her life is ecstatic . . . except Elise.

To make matters worse, Shannon’s eccentric and opinionated grandmother moves in with her and her mom after a fluke house fire. As opening night approaches, Shannon feels pressure to save her friendship with Elise, to make Mom and Grandma Ruby act like grown-ups, and to follow the old theater adage The show must go on.

Book Links

Barnes & Noble

Author Interview

What inspired you to write Shannon in the Spotlight?

I was diagnosed with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in college after a long period of being extremely confused and concerned about what was going on with my brain. When I began writing fiction, I knew I wanted to share some of that story, and I loved the idea of writing a book for kids about a tween with OCD. The very first version of this book was much more angsty and singularly focused on mental illness, but my brilliant agent had the wonderful suggestion of reworking the book to make OCD more of a secondary storyline. As it happens, I also wanted to write a middle grade book about theatre, so voilà! Two ideas turned into one book.

What has been the favorite part of your publishing journey so far?

Okay, this is might sound shallow, but my favorite part of publishing a book is seeing the cover design the publisher and artist come up with. Mostly because I’m the least visually artistic person in history, and I cannot fathom the talent and work it takes to design a book. It’s so exciting to see your characters and story come to life in a different format, especially when that’s the image readers will associate with your book forever! And I was SO fortunate to have the amazing Maike Plenzke and Katrina Damkoehler illustrate and design the gorgeous cover for Shannon in the Spotlight!

Describe Shannon in the Spotlight in five words or less.

Heartwarming, funny, optimistic, relatable, and entertaining! (At least that was the goal.)

What is your favorite quote from Shannon in the Spotlight?

“Harry is a goldfish,” Fatima says. “Their only moods are happy and dead.”

What do you hope readers take away from your story?

While I want everyone to enjoy the book, I am especially hopeful that readers with OCD will connect with Shannon and her journey. I was a voracious reader when I was in middle school, but I never encountered any characters whose brains worked like mine. It’s so important and gratifying to see yourself reflected on the page, and my greatest wish is that kids who are struggling with some of the same things as Shannon maybe feel a little less alone.

Could you give us 5 random facts about Shannon in the Spotlight (think the story, writing, publishing, anything that comes to mind)?

When I wrote the first draft of the book in 2017, the opening scene was a frog dissection.

The book had three other titles before the final one: Three Pairs of Shoes, Becoming Brigitta, and Break a Leg, Shannon Carter!

The story was originally set in Arizona, but I changed it to Minnesota when I moved to Minnesota.

I probably watched ten different productions of The Sound of Music for research.

Shannon and I have the same penguin slippers (mine were a gift from my husband).

Tour Schedule

If you’re curious about the book and want to see what others are thinking, click here for the full tour schedule. There are a lot of amazing bloggers and bookstagrammers participating on this tour.

About the Author

Kalena Miller is a writer, teacher, editor, and scone enthusiast. She currently lives in Minnesota with her husband and lovable, if slightly neurotic, dog. When she isn’t writing, Kalena enjoys tap dancing, scrapbooking, and watching an embarrassing amount of reality television. Her debut YA novel, The Night When No One Had Sex, winner of the Minnesota Book Award, is available now! Her debut middle grade novel, Shannon in the Spotlight is forthcoming from Delacorte Press on April 25, 2023.

Author Links


Middle grade books always seem to have amazing themes and talk about them in amazing ways. I have a feeling Shannon in the Spotlight is going to be one of these books. Keep an eye on the blog, because I’m hoping to read this one in May!

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