Between Worlds 4: What Friends Do Explores Author’s Regrets About Not Supporting Dance Friends Who’d Lost Their Moms to Cancer
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Waterloo, Ontario— Lori Wolf-Heffner danced and later taught at the same studio for over 15 years, in the 80s and 90s. But one thing all the practice and rehearsals in the world couldn’t prepare her for was death: two of her close friends lost their moms to lung cancer. Now in her 40s, Wolf-Heffner has explored those years in the fourth instalment of her dance series, Between Worlds: What Friends Do.
Wolf-Heffner cautions that readers shouldn’t expect a retelling of those years. “That was long ago, and memories change. Instead, with What Friends Do, I wanted to work through my regrets. And if any teens read it, I want to let them know that they’re not alone when tragedy hits their friends.”
Wolf-Heffner describes herself as shy and introverted in her young adult years. So when her two friends lost their mothers, Wolf-Heffner pulled back. “I think I emotionally shut down from my friends,” she says. “That was my MO back then—still is sometimes today—but as a teen who knew so little about herself, I didn’t know how to help them. So I barely tried.”
When Wolf-Heffner finished the third book in the series, she knew the fourth one was going to deal with this topic. However, she wanted her protagonist to take a different approach—certainly one that fits with her character, but also one that would allow Wolf-Heffner to look back upon herself with more understanding.
“This story is part forgiving myself and part encouraging young readers to not shy away from death,” she says. “We mourn for a reason: to acknowledge death and incorporate that loss into our new identities. But I didn’t understand that back then.”
Between Worldsis the story of 14-year-old competitive dancer Juliana Roth, a Calgarian who has to move with her parents across Canada to Kitchener, near Toronto, so they can live with her grandfather. “Opa” is in the early stages of dementia and needs more care than nearby family can provide.
Having to leave behind her dance team, including best friend Rachel, Juliana’s only choice is to get to know her family better while everything is shut for the Christmas holidays. Unexpectedly, this includes her great-grandmother Elisabeth, long dead, but who still lives on as a teen in a journal of drawings Juliana discovers. Opa then becomes the only person alive who can help her decipher them.
“I wrote the series to put a different spin on the dance novel,” says Wolf-Heffner. “Dance has always been the air Juliana breathes, and as she dances, she begins to understand pieces of her family, in part because of the conversations this journal of drawings opens.”
In Between Worlds 4: What Friends Do, for example, Juliana is challenged with supporting her best friend back in Calgary while Opa tries to explain what funerals meant to his mother by way of a drawing of one. Through both dance and visual representation, then, Juliana is forced to explore death and mourning.
Wolf-Heffner danced for over 20 years, most of it as a competitive student. She was among the first members of the Canadian National Tap Team in 1996. In addition, she taught for about ten years, including when she worked as a teaching assistant in her youth. After a few failed auditions, where Wolf-Heffner met many dancers who were frustrated with how hard it was to find work, she chose to not go professional. She has her Hons. BA in German with a second general major in Psychology; her MA in German, and she is working towards her PhD in German. She lives in Waterloo, Ontario, with her husband and two sons.
Between Worlds 4: What Friends Do, goes on sale July 25thand will be available for order at all major booksellers in North America and many independent book stores. For more information, visit www.loriwolfheffner.com. To download photos, please visit the photo gallery.