Lois Arquette, known to readers around the world as author Lois Duncan, passed away on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at the age of 82. She is survived by her husband Don Arquette, her four living children; Robin Burkin, Kerry Arquette, Brett Arquette, and Donald Jr., six grand children, and her brother William Steinmetz.
Lois grew up in Sarasota, Florida, the daughter of acclaimed photojournalists, Joseph and Lois Foley Steinmetz. Writing under Lois Duncan (her first and middle names), Lois published her first story in a national magazine at age 13 and sold her first novel at age 20. As an an adult, Lois moved to Albuquerque, NM, where she taught magazine writing for the Journalism Department at the University of New Mexico. She wrote constantly, producing more than 300 magazine articles and 50 books,ranging from children's picture books to poetry to adult non-fiction, but is best known for her young adult suspense novels, which have received Young Readers Awards in 16 states and three foreign countries. In 1992, Lois was awarded the Margaret A. Edwards Award, presented by the School Library Journal and the ALA Young Adult Library Services Association for "a distinguished body of adolescent literature." In 2015 Mystery Writers of America presented her its Grand Master Award, its highest award, for a lifetime of achievement. Several of her books were made into blockbuster movies and television features.
In 1992 Lois published WHO KILLED MY DAUGHTER, the true story of the 1989 murder of her youngest child, Kaitlyn Arquette. The book recounts the deeply flawed investigation into the circumstances of Kaitlyn’s death and the subsequent failings of the Albuquerque, New Mexico police response to new information. A second book about the still-unsolved murder, titled ONE TO THE WOLVES: ON THE TRAIL OF A KILLER, was published in 2014 by Planet Ann Rule.
Lois and her husband Don left Albuquerque after Kaitlyn’s murder, moving first to the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and eventually moving back to Lois’s childhood hometown, Sarasota. Lois dedicated her time and energy to finding justice for Kaitlyn and other murder victims. She offered support to many families across the nation, who are struggling with the devastating emotional fallout of murder and the equally devastating emotional repercussions of dealing with law enforcement and other institutions involved in the aftermath of murder. A devoted wife, mother, grandmother, and sister, Lois’s “family” also included many hundreds of Facebook friends and fans. Early in her career she resolved to respond to every fan letter personally and she continued this practice throughout her life. She supported and nurtured the talents of upcoming authors.
In 1989, as a gift to welcome her first grandchild into the world, Lois and daughter Robin created SONGS FROM DREAMLAND, a collection of original poems and music. It is with words she herself penned that we say goodbye to an unforgettable woman: Ship in the night—with salt in your sails— Oh, what do you bring me from out of the deep? “I bring you this wish from a magical fish— Go to sleep. Go to sleep. Close your eyes. Go to sleep.”
The family asks that those wishing to commemorate Lois’s passing send donations in her name to The Resource Center for Victims of Violent Death (10701 Lomas NE, Suite 115, Albuquerque, NM 87112).
Another summer is over; school is back in session; and then, very soon, it will be holiday season. I hope you ‘re lucky enough to have an English teacher who allows you to read for pleasure as well as for AR points. If so, here are some books your class might enjoy.
The one you’ll probably want to start with is DOWN A DARK HALL. Why? Because the film rights have been optioned by Stephanie Meyer, the author of the TWILIGHT books. If you’ve read those books or seen the movies you know that Stephanie Meyer loves scary stories, and I’m thrilled to discover that mine are among her favorites. This story is about a boarding school called Blackwood and its mysterious students. Ensnared in the chilling world is new student Kit Gordy, who must unravel Blackwood’s haunted and tragic history before it’s too late. It’s a ghost story, and if it’s scary enough to give someone like Stephanie Meyer nightmares, you’d better plan to sleep with a night light.
Another book of mine that is currently being filmed is a remake of I KNOW WHAT YOU DID LAST SUMMER. It was a very popular movie in the 1990s—at the top of the box office for four months—but Sony Pictures has decided it needs a new interpretation, so they’ve hired a new script writer and who knows what he’ll turn it into. It’s due to be released in 2016, so I’d advise you to read the book NOW, before seeing the movie.
Some other books that make for good classroom discussions: KILLING MR. GRIFFIN, DON’T LOOK BEHIND YOU, and LOCKED IN TIME.
This past year was a very exciting one for me. The Mystery Writers of America named me a Grand Master. That’s the highest award they present and “honors exceptional achievement in the career of mystery writing.” My husband Don and I flew to New York City for the grand presentation at the Edgar Allan Poe Awards Banquet, which happened to take place on my birthday. What a way to celebrate!
This is a link to the presentation and my acceptance speech (which is very, very short, but at least you’ll see me in person being extremely happy.) https://youtu.be/7G8yZmZkXGw?list=PLiYm04WPG_MGSwa5uh1VW72wQ5Exyezmi
The statuette is not pretty--it’s ceramic and supposed to look like the horror writer Edgar Allan Poe. The important thing is what it represents. It’s sitting here right now on the shelf above my desk, glaring down at me as I write this. I’ve inserted a picture of the statue along with another of Don and me, all dressed up for the reception.
I also have a new book out, WRITTEN IN THE STARS. This is very different from my other books, as it’s a collection of the stories I wrote and sold to magazines when I was your age. (That’s how I made my spending money when I was a teenager.) This should be of particular interest to those of you who want to be writers, because at the end of each story I describe the things that were going on in my own life that led me to write that story. You’ll learn about my family life, my school life, my hopes and dreams and crushes—all of which I bet you can relate to because, despite all the changes that have taken place in this new era of technology, the emotions of youth don’t seem to have changed at all. My picture is on the cover of that book --a photo of me in my late teens, dreamily writing a story. (If I look old-fashioned—which I do—it’s because the photo was taken around 1952. That’s how we all looked back then.)
And when Christmas and Hanukkah come, and your parents and others ask for suggestions about what to give you, I hope that on your “wish list” you’ll include books. Not just “books” in general (or they might give you a dictionary), but specific titles by your favorite authors. Of course, I’d be happy if some of those books are mine, but, if you choose a different author, that’s fine too. The main thing is to read the kinds of stories that you enjoy, because reading can be at least as much fun as television.
My daughter, Robin, has now established me on Twitter. If you’re interested in trailing me around and listening to me chirp, feel free to join me at http://twitter.com/duncanauthor.
A Visit with Lois Duncan
Buy Now for this fall!
We are excited to announce the release of a new DVD, created specifically for classroom use:
The name Lois Duncan means different things to different people.
Teachers and librarians know her as the author of over 50 books and a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award, presented by the American Library Association for an outstanding contribution to young adult literature.
Young adult readers know her as the author of scary suspense novels like I Know What You Did Last Summer and Killing Mr. Griffin.
Younger readers know her as the author of humorous books like Hotel for Dogs and News for Dogs.
On this 35 minute DVD, you and your students will meet the “real” Lois Duncan, visit in her home and office, and hear her describe the ups and downs of her career.
You’ll follow her step by step through her writing process, hear her respond to the questions asked most frequently by readers, and learn what happens behind the scenes when a writer’s novels go to Hollywood.
You’ll even get to meet some of her children and grandchildren.
Classes who view
“A Visit with Lois Duncan”
can write to Duncan by e-mail, and she will respond, so it can be an interactive experience.