Life and Death with Lurlene McDaniel

Angel of Mercy by Lurlene McDanielOld-school YA fans have been weeping over Lurlene McDaniel's work for decades. The author is known for her heart-wrenching plotlines, which have kept her writing for more than three decades! Not only does she have a new book out in June, Losing Gabriel: A Love Story, there's also a sale running now on some of her classic books: Angel of MercyI’ll Be Seeing YouUntil Angels Close My Eyes and Too Young to Die. We might be crying a little bit already, remember how much we love those books. Lurlene told us all about her career, and why she writes such emotional books. 

For more than thirty years I’ve written novels for the Young Adult market addressing themes of life and death. Librarians once teasingly referred to me as the “crying-and-dying lady.” And yet the novels have endured . . . more than seventy books to date, many still selling in both new print editions and digital formats on my backlist. Why do readers like these stories?

In truth, I use illnesses and/or traumatic events to explore the grieving process in “real-life” storylines. Grieving is an experience that touches all of humanity, and at some point we all must face the emotions that accompany it. My first appointment with grief came when my three-year-old son was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, and I realized that the path of our family’s life was forever altered by what could not be changed. I have file folders of letters and messages from readers who have lost a loved one and who identify with characters and the overwhelming emotions common to the stages of grief—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. I like to say that watching characters work through the grieving process is the true focus of my work, and while most of my readers are healthy and well, they relate to the feelings experienced by the characters. And that, I think, is a major appeal. The books allow readers to experience a gamut of emotions, sometimes before a loss occurs in their lives. They often tell me that seeing characters triumph over personal tragedy within a storyline is, after a good cry, uplifting.

Losing Gabriel by Lurlene McDanielWhen romantic love is attached to such storylines, emotions within readers also intensify. My three favorite “death” plots revolve around loss of a girlfriend or boyfriend, loss of a best friend or sibling, and the classic love triangle, which occurs in my upcoming June release, Losing Gabriel: A Love Story, but not in a way I’ve ever written about it before.

Writing these books has been an amazing experience for me. New young readers are discovering many of my backlisted titles, while readers who’ve grown up on my titles are discovering my newest books with characters in their twenties facing broader life-altering issues. And my diabetic son? Along with his kid brother, he grew up; both sons married and fathered children, three of whom sadly are Type 1 diabetics—a fourteen-year-old and two three-year-olds.

I’ve walked with grief many times through the years, but each time I discover insights to infuse into my work. As long as I’m able, this crying-and-dying lady will continue her writer’s journey of life-and-death novels—novels that inspire and are full of hope.

Losing Gabriel will be in stores on June 14. You can preorder your copy here: Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iBooks | IndieBound. And remember to check out the sales:

Angel of Mercy

I’ll Be Seeing You

For more young adult reads, check out our Everything YA page!