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Lois Duncan Biography
Lois Duncan grew up in Sarasota, Florida, and from early childhood she knew she wanted to be a writer. She submitted her first story to a magazine at the age of 10 and made her first sale at 13. Throughout her high school years, she wrote regularly for young people’s publications, particularly Seventeen magazine.
“My first book was a young adult novel because I wrote it at age 20, and teenage subject matter was all I knew about,” Duncan says. “Today, although I write other types of books as well, I still choose to write primarily for teenagers because I love the sensitivity, vulnerability, and responsiveness of that age reader.”
Duncan is best known for her brilliant psychological suspense novels. She was drawn to this genre because those were the books she most enjoyed reading. Of her writing technique, she once said, “Although I’ve been told that some authors start writing with only a general idea in mind and let their stories evolve on their own, I couldn’t work that way. My books are tightly plotted and carefully constructed; every sentence is there for a reason. Personally, I can’t imagine writing a book without knowing exactly how it’s going to end. It would be like setting out on a cross-country trip without a road map.”
Ironically, however, the story closest to Duncan’s heart still doesn’t have an ending. Who Killed My Daughter?, the heart-wrenching account of her search for the truth behind the murder of her 18-year-old daughter, Kaitlyn, was written in real time as the horror story unfolded. When the Albuquerque, New Mexico, police department dubbed Kait’s death a random shooting, ignoring evidence to the contrary, Duncan launched her own investigation. Her search for the answers took her into the underworld of Vietnamese gangs and led her to seek the help of the nation’s top psychic detectives, who, along with a courageous newspaper reporter, provided information that proved to her that Kait’s death was far from random. Written to motivate informants, the book was featured on such shows as Good Morning, America, Larry King Live, and Unsolved Mysteries. “Tips have come in, but we still need concrete evidence,” says Duncan. “I continue to believe that we will get it.”
Duncan’s most popular teenage novels have had to do with psychic phenomena, a subject that she admits she used to consider fantasy. “Today I believe differently,” she says. “My experiences with psychic detectives during Kait’s murder investigation have forced me to change my mind about what is and isn’t possible. I feel a responsibility to let my readers know that ESP, as represented in books of mine such as A Gift of Magic and The Third Eye, is a reality.” Her nonfiction book, Psychic Connections: A Journey into the Mysterious World of Psi, written in collaboration with William Roll, Ph.D., project director for the Psychical Research Foundation, introduces teenagers to the fascinating world of parapsychology.
Lois Duncan has received awards from the Mystery Writers of America and was the 1991 recipient of the School Library Journal/Young Adult Library Services Association Margaret K. Edwards Award. Many of her books have been named ALA Best Books for Young Adults.
A Visit With Lois Duncan
Lois Duncan Talks About Her Daughter's Murder
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