Write in Time
Summer is here. You need a book list. None would be complete without titles by a few of our local literati. From Pushcart Prize winners to poet laureates, Delaware’s pedigree is rich with folks who run the gamut in the world of letters. (Find any of the titles mentioned here—and more—at amazon.com.)
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A passion for writing usually begins with a passion for reading. As a child in Delaware, Lara Zeises clearly had the passion. The only problem was the material. It was all so heavy. “I was an early reader, and my parents pushed me into adult books when I was very young,” Zeises says. “I mean, I got a copy of ‘The Diary of Anne Frank’ when I was eight!” Yet Zeises gobbled the books. During middle school, titles such as Hermann Hesse’s “Siddhartha” and Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” filled her shelves. Then in college, she discovered a genre that would shape her career: young adult fiction.
“I was amazed by these books that didn’t really exist when I was a teenager. If they did, they probably would have made me feel less alone in the world,” she says. “I think it’s really important for teenagers, especially when forming their own identities, to have books that tell them they’re not weird or different or alone.”
After earning a bachelor’s in English and journalism at the University of Delaware, Zeises suffered “a miserable stint” at a small newspaper in Fort Wayne, Indiana. It was during that time that she came to terms with her desire to be a novelist. She quickly returned to the East Coast, where she earned a master’s in fine arts in creative writing at Emerson College in Boston while working on her first book. Just two days after graduation, that manuscript sold. It became her first novel, “Bringing Up the Bones.” That was nine years ago.
Now, with eight books under her belt and a star that seems ever on the rise, Zeises can’t imagine writing in any other genre. YA, she says, provides the perfect union between her dorky, inner 16-year-old and its introspective adult counterpart. Though her books often tackle “typical teenage concerns” like family, friendships, and new relationships, the themes are not always couched in “cotton candy, puppies and kittens.”
In addition to her literary output—which includes her most recent release, “The Sweet Life of Stella Madison”—Zeises also teaches writing part time at her alma mater and adult creative writing at the local YMCA. She has considered writing for adults, but right now there are still too many teenage stories left to tell.
“I’ve thought about it. I don’t necessarily feel the pull. Maybe I can see myself doing a non-fiction book about something I’m really passionate about,” she says. “But I still feel the same as I did at 16. Only now I have a mortgage.”
“The Sweet Life of Stella Madison”
“Anyone But You”
“Contents Under Pressure”
“Bringing Up the Bones”
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