For many today may feel like one of those “dog days of summer,” but on the eve of her debut as a YA novelist Lara Zielin is only thinking Donut Days. Yummy title, isn’t it? And how appropriate that it comes from someone who grew up in Eau Claire (French for “clear water”), Wisconsin and thought that “’clear water’ in French was Evian.”
Yes Lara is an engaging, witty and charming young woman who radiates enthusiasm and a visit to her website will confirm her fun-loving nature. As a self-described “writer on the verge of…something,” she loves her day job as the editor of LSAmagazine, a University of Michigan alumni magazine. It provides her opportunities to meet wonderful people, discuss cutting-edge research, visit interesting locations — and then go and write all about it. Michigan is not the author’s alma mater (that would be Carleton College ‘98), yet she bleeds blue!
Sound as though Lara Zielin is confidence personified? Ah, it wasn’t always that way, and thus her inspiration for writing in the YA genre as she explains:
“Middle school and high school weren’t always easy for me, so I often turned to books to escape. The challenges I faced, coupled with the books I read, left a significant emotional imprint on my heart. And that’s why I think writing YA has always been my first love — because I can remember how being a teen can be so crappy one minute, and then so amazing the next. It sounds like a terrible cliché, but having books with characters I could identify with really helped me feel less lonely, and that I wasn’t the only teenager who had ever struggled with things like friendship, love, and acceptance.”
It’s not surprising then to learn that the backstory of the novel, along with the theme/message, is – according to Lara — semi-autobiographical:
“I wrote DONUT DAYS based off my own personal experiences in the evangelical church, but the issues Emma faces in DONUT DAYS transcend any particular denomination. Many teens have doubts about what they’re being asked to believe in a variety of contexts, church being just one among many. My great hope is that DONUT DAYS encourages teens to thoughtfully question what they believe, and why, and to remember that even if people suck, that doesn’t necessarily mean that faith (or God) sucks, too.”
Here’s a brief synopsis:
DONUT DAYS’ main character, Emma Goiner, has a lot going on. Her best friend’s not speaking to her, a boy she’s known all her life is suddenly smokin’ hot, she’s at a camp-out for the opening of a donut shop, and oh yes—her evangelical pastor parents may lose their church. And that’s just this weekend. Suddenly, sixteen-year-old Emma has to make some serious choices: creationism or evolution, faith or freedom, Harley bikers or Frodo wannabes, and of course, cruller or glazed.
And then a wonderful literary trade journal review:
“In this spirited—and, in an offbeat, somewhat irreverent way, spiritual—offering, readers meet Emma, who, despite the fact that both her parents are ministers at an evangelical church, finds her desire to feel the power of God in a direct and immediate way continually frustrated. Emma’s relationship with God becomes even more troubled when a wealthy church member challenges Emma’s mother’s right to preach based on her gender. Add to this the terrible fight that Emma has had with her best friend Nat, her budding relationship with the son of the man who instigated the church trouble and her attempt to get around her parents’ decision that she attend a Christian college by winning a scholarship contest for the best article on the Crispy Dream donut camp, and complications abound. The whimsical plot stretches credulity in places, as does the virtuousness of Emma’s crush, Jake, who never flinches in his loyalty to Emma, but Zielin’s lighthearted yet substantive portrayals of Emma’s struggles with God, family and friendship ring absolutely true.”_Kirkus Reviews
Tomorrow Lara will celebrate the publication of Donut Days and you can too by purchasing this fun but thoughtful read. In fact there’s not a better way to introduce a teen to a new author/friend. Lara Zielin’s career is just beginning, with her second novel, PROMGATE, tentatively due in summer 2011. She admits: “It feels like a long time away but I know the editing process will eat up a lot of that time, and the book will be here before I know it!” And to understand exactly what this author means, merely watch her video, Editing Letter.
Congratulations Lara, may your success be sweet!
To win a FREE copy of Donut Days, simply leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the contest. The deadline is 11:00 pm EDT tonight when a random drawing will be held and the winner announced in tomorrow’s post.