Author Interview - LARA ZIELIN

You may remember the famous book trailer ("Editing Letter") that went around last year by YA author Lara Zielin. It's a good example of an effective trailer. If you haven't seen it, it's embedded below this interview so that you can see it--because you must! It's hilarious and wonderful! Good news is, Lara is here today to talk about her book that went out just last year. It's called DONUT DAYS! Hurray!

The illustration is of the main character of DONUT DAYS. Her name is Emma and she is sixteen years old. I wanted to make it cute with happy colors, and of course, put in a donut or else it'd be totally wrong.

1) Welcome to The Blog, Lara! What is your book about?

Why, donuts of course!

Actually, donuts are more of a B-plot, maybe even a C-plot.

DONUT DAYS’ main character, Emma, is a pastor's daughter trying to figure out what she really believes. She attends Living Word Redeemer Church where both her mom and dad ascend the pulpit regularly, until a church member challenges her mom’s right to preach. On top of all that, a boy she’s known all her life is suddenly smokin’ hot—and possibly connected to all the drama in the church—and she’s in a fight with her best friend.

How do donuts figure into all this? A donut chain is opening a new store in Emma's town, and people are streaming in from miles around to camp out for the opening. When the local paper offers a scholarship to the student who writes the best article on the event, Emma is determined to win. She needs the money since her parents have made it clear they won’t pay for her to go to a non-Christian college.

2) What inspired the story?

DONUT DAYS was definitely inspired by real-life events. The donut camp came into my life when I was living in Minnesota, and the first Krispy Kreme opened up in the state. People went bananas. They camped out in advance of the store opening; they set up grills and tents; the media swarmed the scene; the line was out the door for days. All for donuts! At the time I thought, that’s an awesome setting for a book!

As far as the church stuff goes, I was an evangelical Christian for most of my teen years, but I never thought this was remotely interesting until I met my husband, Rob. He was like, dude, you have to put all this into a story. The more I thought about it, the more I realized he was right.

3) Mm, Krispy Kreme! Can you give us advice on the editing process?

Oh, man! Where to start?

My book went through many, many drafts and, even though my editor had great insights the whole time and was absolutely directing me toward the right changes, I just couldn’t make it all work. At one point I submitted a draft that was largely acknowledged as being much worse than the one that came before it.

I'm so thankful I had a solid editor who really was improving the book and not just asking for things willy-nilly. Ironically, I'm a magazine editor for my day job, and I kept thinking, I have the word "editor" in my job title. Why can't I do what she needs me to do? I never quite figured that out, actually. The good news is, my editor’s work really made the novel sing--and I think that's what kept me going, even amid all the frustration.

So, all that is to say the best editing advice I have is just to stick with it, no matter if you’re published or not. Even when you can’t see the light at the end of the tunnel, there IS a way though the darkness. Don’t give up on the projects you love. They’re worth the editorial sweat you put into them.

4) Speaking of editing, you have a phenomenal book trailer that was passed around quite a bit in the book world! Can you tell us about how you thought of it and the making of it?

Totally! I mean, part of the reason I made that trailer was because editing was so challenging for me (see above: sweat, editorial). I of course love the 80s, so naturally I had to pick a song to sing to from that era. Once I had my song, I changed the lyrics, recorded it, then my husband and I brainstormed how to film it.

My favorite part is actually when I’m crying in the rain. Which was actually was me in the back yard pretending to gnash my teeth and wail while my husband sprayed me with the hose. Good times!

5) Haha! What was your journey toward the publication of DONUT DAYS like?

Recently, at a Chicago book event with several other authors who'd had their debut novels published in 2009, someone in the audience asked how long the writing process took for each of us, from rough start to finished publication.

At the low end of the scale, some writers said between two and three years. I was at the high end of the scale, falling somewhere between eight and nine years.

The road was definitely a long one, but I learned a ton through every minute of it. I’m grateful that the experience has led me to another book (my sophomore title, PROMGATE, comes out in 2011) and I am excited to keep writing and reading!

Oh, and totally making videos where my husband sprays me with the hose.

Thank you so much for sharing your experience with us today, Lara!

Readers--DONUT DAYS can be purchased here!

Editing Letter by Lara Zielin can be viewed here:

Lara is awesome!




If you're an author, editor, agent, or illustrator and would like a five question interview and a drawing of your character (or of yourself), email me at rtlovejoy (at) yahoo (dot) com. Check out the FAQ page for more information!


  1. Editing Letter is the REASON I started internet stalking Lara! She's So dang cool...

  2. i love what you do. such a creative, awesome, unique approach to blogging -- and you're so so obviously talented.

    all of your interviews are fantastic. thanks for sharing.

    i can't wait to see your art work grace the cover of a published novel!

    best of luck with everything!

  3. Jamie -- I agree--Lara is cool! Thanks for visiting!

    Tahereh -- Wow, thank you so much for the kind words, Tahereh! And thanks for stopping by!

  4. Editing Letter is HILARIOUS.

    And Donut Days sounds fantastic!! I will have to snag me a copy...


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