Author Spotlight

“I write the kind of books I write because I want to help kids understand that nobody gets to pick what life dishes out to them. What you do get to choose is how you respond to what life gives you. No matter what happens, life is a gift. And always worth living.”—Lurlene McDaniel

Lurlene McDaniel is a recipient of the RITA Award and several of her works have received the IRA–CBC Children’s Choice Award.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Everyone loves a good cry, and no one delivers heartwrenching stories better than Lurlene McDaniel.

But there’s more to her books than that. McDaniel has written over 50 novels about kids who face life-threatening illnesses, who sometimes do not survive. These are powerful, inspirational stories about courage, love, and strength in the face of overwhelming trauma. McDaniel’s books touch the hearts and spirits of the teenagers and adults who read them. Her following is a devoted group of appreciative fans. McDaniel says: “These are books that challenge you and make you think.”

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.” McDaniel’s books are ultimately optimistic and life-affirming. 

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.

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.”

Growing up, McDaniel lived in different parts of the country because her father was in the Navy. Eventually her family settled in Florida. She attended the University of South Florida in Tampa, where she earned a B.A. in English. She now lives in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

McDaniel’s books have been named to several bestseller lists, including Publishers Weekly and USA Today. Three of her novels were selected by children as IRA–CBC Children’s Choices: Somewhere Between Life and Death, Too Young to Die, and Goodbye Doesn’t Mean Forever. Six Months to Live has been placed in a literary time capsule at the Library of Congress, to be opened in the year 2089.

McDaniel’s novels are hard-hitting and realistic, but also leave readers with inspiration and hope. Her bestselling books have received acclaim from readers, teachers, parents, and reviewers; they include Don't Die My Love; Till Death Do Us Part; Hit and Run; Telling Christina Goodbye; True Love: Three Novels; and The End of Forever.


PRAISE

THE YEAR OF LUMINOUS LOVE
"The Year of Luminous Love expertly pulls at readers' heartstrings and wrings emotion. Vintage McDaniel!"—Romantic Times

RED HEART TATTOO
"In her signature style, McDaniel explores the grief, anger, and upheaval caused by a school bombing . . . Readers will be drawn to the novel's brevity, romance, and ripped-from-the-headlines subject matter."—School Library Journal

HEART TO HEART
"Woven into this emotional text are threads related to parent/child relationships, first loves, and death and dying . . . and a sadness that is expertly tempered with hope and a love of life."—Kirkus Reviews

DON’T DIE, MY LOVE
“Touching scenes abound in this crisis novel. . . . Fans of tear-jerker teen romances will enjoy this offering.”—Booklist

I’LL BE SEEING YOU
“A satisfying story for those who like to take their romance with tears and gutsy characters who know what it means to live beyond the pale of ‘normal.’ ”—School Library Journal

STARRY, STARRY NIGHT
“[The stories] are absorbing, the characters are well developed, and the author does not resolve the girls’ dilemmas with pat solutions. . . . This has solid YA appeal.”—School Library Journal

TOO YOUNG TO DIE and GOODBYE DOESN’T MEAN FOREVER
“These companion novels . . . cast the events of high school into a meaningful perspective and allow for convincing character development. McDaniel’s writing is light and well suited to this refreshing and involving story.”—Publishers Weekly