Monday, February 25, 2008

Who is Lurlene?

Author bios vary a lot. Sometimes they take up a whole back cover, sometimes we learn little more than university attended or city born. With Lurlene, I knew to always expect basically the exact same bio, with the exact same picture:


I like how she's just chillaxing in that lounge chair. "Hey there, girlfriend," she seems to be telling me. "Sit right back and let me spin you a tale of death and disease." Um, all right, Lurlene, I'm onboard!

Lurlene McDaniel began writing inspirational novels about teenagers facing life-altering situations when her son was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. "I saw firsthand how chronic illness affects every aspect of a person's life," she has said. "I want kids to know that while people don't get to choose what life gives to them, they do get to choose how they respond."

Lurlene McDaniel's novels are hard-hitting and realistic [if there are two descriptors I would never, ever use to describe Lurlene's books, they're "hard-hitting" and "realistic"], but also leave readers with inspiration and hope. Her books have received acclaim from readers, teachers, parents, and reviewers. Her recent novels, Angels Watching Over Me and its companions, Lifted Up by Angels and Until Angels Close my Eyes, have all been national bestsellers, as have Don't Die, My Love; I'll Be Seeing You; and Till Death Do Us Part. Six Months to Live was included in a literary time capsule at the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Lurlene lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.
Okay, the time capsule thing is waaaaay too good to resist; it is seriously the GREATEST THING EVER. I did a little digging around online and found out that this capsule is to be opened in the year 2089. And in the year 2089, people will wonder just what the fuck we were reading, and why cancer was alllllll the rage. I mean SERIOUSLY. THE HELL. This is the craziest thing ever, you guys!! Like, our grandchildren and great-grandchildren are going to witness this and cry for the level of literature their ancestors had to settle for.

Can you imagine? Seriously? You open a time capsule, looking for clues to your culture's past, and you pull out Six Months to fucking Live? Oh, holy hell, that's amazing.

So as a kid this is basically all I ever knew about Lurlene (except that time capsule thing, that's totes new info). And I must say, even though back then I thought these were really quality books, I thought it was kind of weird this whole thing took off for her just because her kid had diabetes. Now, listen, I'm not downplaying diabetes. Stacey McGill was my idol! But, like, it's manageable, you know? It's a whole different bag of bears than, say, cancer, right?

According to Lurlene's official web site (well, one of them):

McDaniel began writing about young adults when her son Sean was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes at the age of 3. His illness changed the lives of everyone in her family forever. “I saw what life was like for someone who was chronically ill, and I experienced how it affected the dynamics of the family,” says McDaniel. She says she found that writing about the trauma and its effects was therapeutic.
I mean, I get it! Writing is totes cathartic; I've been there too, Lurlene! But you know? She didn't have a kid who died in a car wreck, or a kid who died from cancer, or a kid with AIDS. She had a kid who got this totally manageable illness. Yeah? I wonder how Sean feels that his diabetes spurred like fifty tomes of death, angst, destruction, and working mothers! Man, Sean, I'd be weirded out, if I were you.

On the site I also learned that Lurlene attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she actually got her B.A. in English. Dudes, for serious! I guess to be fair I've never found TECHNICAL fault with her writing. Also that was before her mind was opened up to the possibility of KIDS WITH DEATH, so who knows what she was writing back then.

Also I've gotta admit I'm always totes intrigued by ladies with jobs that involve them speaking out against other ladies with jobs!

Oh, so you guys want to know more about Lurlene's research process? Okay!:

To make certain that her books are medically accurate, McDaniel conducts extensive research. She interviews health care professionals and works with appropriate medical groups and hospice organizations, as well as the Tennessee Organ Donor Services. “I study medicine and traditional grief therapy techniques to give the novels a sense of serious medical reality,” she says. “I also study the Bible to instill the human element—the values and ethics often overlooked by the coldness of technology.”
I will say that I always felt like I was getting the full medical story with Lurlene. Hell, I probably could step in for a medical professional for Very Important Talks thanks to all I learned from the Lurleneverse.

As for the bible, I am not sure an ancient text is necessarily the BEST place to look for the human element ("the human element" totally sounds like a sci-fi movie, Y/N?), though to be fair it's not like I ever have caught her plagiarizing bible verses or anything. Okay, Lurlene, I'll give you a fair pass there.

Some readers—and their parents—have wondered why McDaniel chooses to write about sad situations. “I tell them that sometimes tragedy hits people—kids, too. They want answers. They want to know ‘why.’ By using novels, I show ordinary kids confronting and overcoming great odds.”
"Overcoming"? LOTS OF THE KIDS DIE.

4 comments:

Sophia said...

If you do the Angels series on this blog, I will love you forever. Those are like my favorite books from her and maybe now I will see the utter ridiculousness of Leah and Ethan ever being together...

ames said...

I will totally do them at some point! My goal is truly to get through ALL of them, so as soon as I stumble across them, I promise I'll recap them. I never read them as a kid so I'm sure they're going to hurt my brain and soul. I'm excited there's a character named Ethan though! Back when I was thirteen or so, I thought that was the sexiest name ever.

...No, I don't know either.

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