Lee, Laura 1969-

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Lee, Laura 1969-

PERSONAL:

Born August 20, 1969, in Warren, MI; daughter of Albert (a writer) and Carol (an office manager) Lee. Education: Oakland University, B.A., 1991; Specs Howard School of Broadcast Arts, graduated, 1992.

ADDRESSES:

E-mail—[email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. OverViews Speechwriting, president. Has worked as radio broadcaster in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and Virginia, and as a broadcast copywriter and ballet publicist.

MEMBER:

National Writers Union.

WRITINGS:

Invited to Sound (poetry), Elsewhere Press (Rochester, MI), 1996.

The Name's Familiar: Mr. Leotard, Barbie, and Chef Boyardee (nonfiction), Pelican Publishing (Gretna, LA), 1999.

Bad Predictions (nonfiction), Elsewhere Press (Rochester, MI), 2000.

Arlo, Alice, and Anglicans: The Lives of a New England Church (nonfiction), Berkshire House (Lee, MA), 2000.

The Pocket Encyclopedia of Aggravations, Black Dog and Leventhal (New York, NY), 2001.

The Name's Familiar II (nonfiction), Pelican Publishing (Gretna, LA), 2001.

100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What You Can Do about Them (nonfiction), Broadway Books (New York, NY), 2004.

Blame It on the Rain: How the Weather Has Changed History (nonfiction), Harper (New York, NY), 2006.

The Elvis Impersonation Kit: A Step-by-Step Guide to Becoming the King (nonfiction), Black Dog and Leventhal (New York, NY), 2006.

A Child's Introduction to Ballet: The Stories, Music, and Magic of Classical Dance (nonfiction), illustrated by Meredith Hamilton, Black Dog and Leventhal (New York, NY), 2007.

Contributor to periodicals, including Times Union (Albany, NY), Private Pilot, Smithsonian, Preservation, and Weatherwise.

SIDELIGHTS:

Laura Lee has written books on a wide variety of topics, such as the church made famous by Arlo Guthrie's 1960s folk anthem "Alice's Restaurant," how to impersonate Elvis Presley, and the world-altering power of weather. Her work on the latter is Blame It on the Rain: How the Weather Has Changed History. In brief chapters with an informal tone, she discusses such phenomena as a rainstorm that mired the French army in mud and helped the English achieve victory at the battle of Agincourt in 1415; the extreme heat that exacerbated urban riots in Detroit in 1967; and frigid winters in Russia that affected the Napoleonic wars and World War II, along with many other examples.

Some reviewers thought Lee delivers valuable information in an appealingly witty manner. Her "sprightly essays" provide "an intriguing look" at weather's relationship to history, reported a Publishers Weekly critic, while School Library Journal contributor Brigeen Radoicich praised Lee's "concise, conversational style." A Kirkus Reviews commentator, however, found the book "mostly superficial," although it "shines at a few points," and faulted Lee for "mistaking flippancy for humor." Michelle Jones, writing for BookPage, remarked that "Lee's tone can be a bit too smart-alecky at times, but her take on history is always refreshing and thought-provoking." To Booklist reviewer Gilbert Taylor, Lee's "comedic tendencies" do not overshadow the facts she presents, and he praised the book as having an "unusual, lively approach" and "high browsing appeal."

Laura Lee told CA: "I began my writing career at the age of twelve, when I published an article called ‘My First Day of Junior High School.’ I went on to earn a theater degree from Oakland University. There I wrote for the Vorpmi comedy troupe and authored a one-act comedy called ‘Humphrey Hall,’ which was performed to glowing reviews. (Tests for radioactivity came back negative.) After graduating with commendation, despite many lucrative offers from large theater corporations, I decided to travel and work in England and Scotland. There I learned, among other things, how to wash dishes and how to build up a large debt.

"Upon my return, I embarked on a broadcasting career. One radio station, WKJF in Cadillac, Michigan, was so impressed by my performance that they decided to just close the place down after I left. Next I became the commercial copywriter and afternoon ‘voice’ for WFRA-Radio in Franklin, Pennsylvania. Many of my ads were chosen to be featured in the trade publication Radio Ink. Most recently I was the morning announcer and program director of WAGE-Radio in Leesburg, Virginia. In this role I was responsible for news writing and reporting, conducting interviews, writing and collecting material for the morning show, mediating on-air talk shows, devising new feature programs, and writing and producing ad copy and press releases.

"Despite my love of rising at 3:30 a.m., I decided to leave the radio business to focus my energies on my first love, writing"

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, September 15, 2000, Bill Ott, review of Bad Predictions, p. 288; July 1, 2006, Gilbert Taylor, review of Blame It on the Rain: How the Weather Has Changed History, p. 16.

Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2006, review of Blame It on the Rain, p. 507.

Publishers Weekly, October 16, 2000, review of Arlo, Alice, and Anglicans: The Lives of a New England Church, p. 69; June 19, 2006, review of Blame It on the Rain, p. 55.

School Library Journal, January, 2005, Pam Johnson, review of 100 Most Dangerous Things in Everyday Life and What You Can Do about Them, p. 160; November, 2006, Brigeen Radoicich, review of Blame It on the Rain, p. 174.

Science News, August 12, 2006, review of Blame It on the Rain, p. 111.

ONLINE

BookPage,http://www.bookpage.com/ (August, 2006), Michelle Jones, review of Blame It on the Rain.

OverViews Speechwriting Web site,http://www.speechwriting.com/ (March 8, 2007), brief biography.

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