Zeises, Lara M. 1976–

views updated

Zeises, Lara M. 1976–

(Lola Douglas)

PERSONAL:

Surname rhymes with "vices"; born January 20, 1976, in Philadelphia, PA; daughter of Nancy Stone. Education: University of Delaware, B.A. (with advanced honors), 1997; Emerson College, M.F.A., 2001.

ADDRESSES:

Home—Wilmington, DE. Agent—c/o George Nicholson, Sterling Lord Literistic, 65 Bleecker St., New York, NY 10012. E-mail—[email protected]; [email protected]

CAREER:

Writer. Worked as an intern for Baltimore Sun and News Journal; also worked briefly as a features reporter in Indiana and Delaware.

MEMBER:

Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators.

AWARDS, HONORS:

Honor book award, Delacorte Press Contest for First Young-Adult Novel, 2001, and Best Book for the Teen Age selection, New York Public Library, 2003, both for Bringing up the Bones.

WRITINGS:

YOUNG-ADULT NOVELS

Bringing up the Bones, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2002.

Contents under Pressure, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2004.

Anyone but You: A Novel in Two Voices, Delacorte (New York, NY), 2005.

Coauthor of play produced by Delaware Theater Company. Contributor of fiction and nonfiction to periodicals, including Jewish Education News and Kliatt.

UNDER NAME LOLA DOUGLAS

True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, Razorbill (New York, NY), 2005.

More True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, Razorbill (New York, NY), 2006.

Author of blogs, girl uninterrupted and What Lola Wants.

SIDELIGHTS:

Lara M. Zeises writes fiction under her own name, and has created a second identity as a young-adult novelist under the pen name Lola Douglas. As Zeises explained in an interview for Kliatt: "I never intended to write for teenagers. But as I became more fully immersed in the genre, and learned that there are far fewer boundaries in writing for children than one may imagine, I realized that the stories I wanted to tell were the ones I wished I had found when I was a teenager myself."

Zeises's first novel, Bringing up the Bones, is the story of nineteen-year-old Bridget, whose first love, Benji, breaks up with her via a letter she receives just weeks before he is killed in a car accident. Bridget has trouble coping with the tragedy, and after what she intends to be a one-night stand with a young man named Jasper, she finds herself beginning to heal as she becomes a part of Jasper's life. "Zeises dishes out a heavy slice of realism, suggesting that happily-ever-after endings don't come easily," wrote a critic for Publishers Weekly. Noting the depth of the novel's secondary characters, a Kirkus Reviews contributor wrote that, "without shifting the focus from Bridget, the author surrounds her with characters that enrich and authenticate her emotional journey." Susan W. Hunter, writing for School Library Journal, noted that "the open ending" of Bringing up the Bones brings a satisfying sense of realism."

Contents under Pressure is the story of Lucy, a teen who has always admired her successful older brother Jack. When Jack drops out of school and brings home a pregnant girlfriend, Lucy resents the change and is astonished by her beloved brother's continually selfish behavior. "Zeises presents these people and this situation without stereotypes," wrote Claire Rosser, reviewing the novel in Kliatt. The "novel takes a mature approach to many issues surrounding young people and sex, managing at the same time to be both light-handed and earnest," according to a critic for Publishers Weekly. Linda Bindner, reviewing Contents under Pressure for School Library Journal, called Lucy a "fully realistic heroine who's confused and scared."

Raised as siblings, Seattle and Critter have to face the changes in their lives as they traverse their teen years in Anyone but You: A Novel in Two Voices. Critter, age seventeen, has always thought of Seattle as his own little sister since her father abandoned Seattle along with Critter's own mother. But now that Seattle is fifteen, Critter feels himself becoming attracted to her as something more. Seattle is not sure what she feels, but when she gets extremely jealous over Critter's new girlfriend, she leaps into the arms of another boy. "Pitch-perfect narration and a meandering plot give this story real life appeal," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews, while Rosser maintained that "Zeises manages family relationships with acute precision."

Using the pseudonym Lola Douglas, Zeises moves away from realistic family drama and steps into a world of Hollywood gossip. True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet is narrated by Morgan, a movie star who is going through rehab. In order to fully recover before leaping back into the Hollywood scene, Morgan goes undercover in Indiana, trying to live like a "normal" teen on a less-than-Hollywood budget. "This engaging read with a promised sequel will be popular," wrote Suzanne Gordon in School Library Journal. While noting that the theme of addiction is dealt with in a serious fashion, a Kirkus Reviews contributor added that because Zeises frames her "narrative … in chatty diary form," True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet "is light, breezy and lots of fun."

Morgan rejoins readers in More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. No longer undercover, but still attending school in Indiana, Morgan finds that her relationships change once her identity is revealed. When she makes a brief return to Hollywood, she is paired by the media with a celebrity she detests because, years before, he raped her. Zeises "manages the lightest of styles while delving into deep issues for adolescents," wrote a contributor to Kirkus Reviews in reviewing the sequel, while Rosser concluded of More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet: "Much of it is nearly over the top, but it is appealing," Claire Rosser concluded in Kliatt. On the Lola Douglas Home Page, Zeises discussed how she started writing about Morgan. "I wanted to write a diary format book, because it seemed fun and challenging," she explained. "But it's not exactly a novel concept (no pun intended), so I tried to think of whose diary I'd want to read. Of course, I immediately thought of Drew Barrymore, and on a long drive at 2 a.m. I fleshed out the basics of the story."

In an interview with a contributor for Down Home Books Online, Zeises talked about her decision to give up journalism. "When I made the decision to quit journalism and go to grad school for writing, it was sort of my way of giving myself permission to write. It was without a doubt the best decision I've ever made," she explained. Asked to give advice to aspiring writers by Debbie Michiko on Michiko's home page, Zeises replied: "Grow thick skin. Read everything you can get your hands on. Be curious about people, both real and imaginary. Never give up."

BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:

PERIODICALS

Booklist, November 15, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 596; March 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Contents under Pressure, p. 1301; December 15, 2005, Shelle Rosenfeld, review of Anyone but You: A Novel in Two Voices, p. 42.

Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 2003, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 215; March, 2006, Karen Coates, review of Anyone but You, p. 332.

Horn Book, March-April, 2004, Lauren Adams, review of Contents under Pressure, p. 192.

Kirkus Reviews, September 15, 2002, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 1404; March 15, 2004, review of Contents under Pressure, p. 279; October 15, 2005, review of True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, p. 1136, and review of Anyone but You, p. 1149; October 15, 2006, review of More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, p. 1068.

Kliatt, November, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 16; March, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Contents under Pressure, p. 17; May, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 25; November, 2005, Claire Rosser, review of Anyone but You, p. 1, and Myrna Marler, review of True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, p. 5; November, 2006, Claire Rosser, review of More Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, p. 8.

Library Media Connection, April-May, 2003, Leslie Schoenherr, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 77; January, 2006, Brenda Ethridge Ferguson, review of Anyone but You, p. 75.

Publishers Weekly, October 7, 2002, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 74; March 15, 2004, review of Contents under Pressure, p. 76; December 19, 2005, review of Anyone but You, p. 66.

School Library Journal, November, 2002, Susan W. Hunter, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 178; April, 2004, Linda Bindner, review of Contents under Pressure, p. 163; December, 2005, Suzanne Gordon, review of True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet, p. 144; January, 2006, Kathy Lehman, review of Anyone but You, p. 145.

Voice of Youth Advocates, December, 2002, review of Bringing up the Bones, p. 393; June, 2004, Cynthia Winfield, review of Contents under Pressure, p. 138.

ONLINE

Debbie Michiko Florence Web site,http://www.debbimichikoflorence.com/ (October 29, 2007), Debbie Michiko Florence, interview with Zeises.

Down Home Books Web site, http://www.downhomebooks.com/zeises.htm (October 29, 2007), interview with Zeises.

Lara M. Zeises Home Page,http://www.zeisgeist.com (October 29, 2007).

Lola Douglas Home Page,http://www.loladouglas.com (October 8, 2007).

Random House Web site,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (October 29, 2007), profile of Zeises.

Teen Reads Web site,http://www.teenreads.com/authors/au-douglas-lola.asp (November 8, 2005), interview with Lola Douglas.

YA Books Central Web site,http://www.yabookscentral.com/ (October 29, 2007), interview with Zeises.