Lois Duncan

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Lois Duncan
Lois Duncan Steinmetz playing the accordion aboard the shantyboat Lazy Bones (cropped).jpg
Lois Duncan Steinmetz about 1947
Born Lois Duncan Steinmetz
(1934-04-28)April 28, 1934
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Died June 15, 2016(2016-06-15) (aged 82)
South Sarasota, Florida
Pen name Lois Kerry
Occupation Writer, journalist
Nationality American
Period 1947–2016
Genre Young-adult mystery fiction, supernatural fiction, children's poetry and picture books
Notable awards Margaret Edwards Award
Relatives Joseph Janney Steinmetz, father

Lois Duncan Steinmetz (April 28, 1934 – June 15, 2016), known as Lois Duncan, was an American writer of children's books, best known for young-adult novels of suspense. She wrote two early novels under the pen name Lois Kerry.[1][2]

Duncan received the 1992 Margaret Edwards Award from the American Library Association for her contribution to writing for teens.[3]

Early life[edit]

Lois Duncan (left) and Polly Gaines in a motorboat Sarasota, Florida, 1950.

Steinmetz was born on April 28, 1934[4] in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to photographers Lois Duncan (née Foley)[5] and Joseph Janney Steinmetz.[6] She grew up in Sarasota, Florida and started writing and submitting manuscripts to magazines at age 10. She sold her first story at the age of 13.[4]


Duncan attended Duke University from 1952 to 1953[4] but dropped out, married, and started a family. During this time, she continued to write and publish magazine articles; she has written more than 300 articles published in magazines such as Ladies' Home Journal, Redbook, McCall's, Good Housekeeping, and Reader's Digest. Later she moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to teach journalism at the University of New Mexico,[7] where she also earned a B.A. in English in 1977.

Duncan is best known for her novels of suspense for teenagers. Some of her works have been adapted for the screen, the most famous example being the 1997 film I Know What You Did Last Summer, adapted from her novel of the same title.[8]

In 1989 the youngest of Duncan's children, Kaitlyn Arquette, was murdered in Albuquerque. Who Killed My Daughter? relates fact and conjecture about the still unsolved case.[7] Duncan has said that her "dream is to write a sequel to Who Killed My Daughter? to give our family's true life horror story a closure. Of course, for that to be possible, Kait's case must be solved."[9] Duncan also founded a research centre to help investigate cold cases, which later became the nonprofit Resource Center for Victims of Violent Deaths.[10] After Kait's death, Duncan began writing children's picture books, saying that she could no longer write about young women in life-threatening situations.[8]

The 1971 children's book Hotel for Dogs has been adapted as a 2009 film of the same name starring Emma Roberts. Duncan appears as an extra in the crowd scene.[citation needed]

The ALA Margaret A. Edwards Award recognizes one writer and a particular body of work for "significant and lasting contribution to young adult literature". Duncan won the annual award in 1992 and the young adult librarians now name six books published from 1966 to 1987, the autobiographical Chapters and five novels: Ransom, I Know What You Did Last Summer, Summer of Fear, Killing Mr. Griffin, and The Twisted Window. The citation observes, "Whether accepting responsibility for the death of an English teacher or admitting to their responsibility for a hit and run accident, Duncan's characters face a universal truth—your actions are important and you are responsible for them."[3]

Personal life[edit]

Duncan had three children with her first husband: daughters Robin and Kerry and son Brett. Her first marriage ended in divorce. In 1965 she married Don Arquette, an electrical engineer; they have two children: son Donald Junior and daughter Kaitlyn.[4] Her three oldest children all took her second husband's name.[11]

On June 15, 2016, at the age of 82, Duncan died at home in South Sarasota, Florida.[12][12]

Selected works[edit]

This is an incomplete list of Duncan's published works.[13]

Anthologies edited[edit]

  • Night Terrors (1996)
  • Trapped! (1998)
  • On the Edge (2000)


Picture books[edit]

Duncan identifies these works as "picture books".[13]



See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Love Song for Joyce". Library of Congress Catalog Record (LCC). Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  2. ^ a b "A promise for Joyce". LCC record. Retrieved 2013-03-11.
  3. ^ a b "1992 Margaret A. Edwards Award Winner". Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA). American Library Association (ALA).
      "Margaret A. Edwards Winners". YALSA. ALA.
      "Edwards Award". YALSA. ALA. Retrieved 2013-09-26.
  4. ^ a b c d "Lois Duncan". The Alliance for the Study and Teaching of Adolescent Literature at Rhode Island College (ric.edu). February 9, 2006. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  5. ^ Kies, Cosette N. (1993). Presenting Lois Duncan. Twayne Publishers. 
  6. ^ Telgen, Diane (1 December 1993). Something about the Author. Gale Research International, Limited. 
  7. ^ a b Matthew Lavelle (Spring 2007). "Duncan, Lois". Pennsylvania Center for the Book (psu.edu). Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  8. ^ a b Langer, Emily (2016-06-17). "Lois Duncan, whose suspense novels held teen readers spellbound, dies at 82". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2016-06-18. 
  9. ^ "Author Profile: Lois Duncan". Teenreads (teenreads.com). 2003. Retrieved 2007-05-08.  Interview transcript with preface.
  10. ^ Times, Los Angeles. "Lois Duncan, young-adult fiction writer, dies at 82". latimes.com. Retrieved 2016-06-18. 
  11. ^ "Biography". Lois Duncan's official homepage. Retrieved 17 June 2016. 
  12. ^ a b "NM novelist Lois Duncan dies at 82". www.KOB.com. Retrieved 2016-06-16. 
  13. ^ a b "Books & Awards". Lois Duncan (loisduncan.arquettes.com). n.d. Retrieved 2007-05-08. 
  14. ^ "Psychic connections : a journey into the mysterious world of psi". LCC record. Retrieved 2013-03-11. Quote publisher description: "the basic book on parapsychology".

External links[edit]