Dakota Lane (1959–) Biography
Personal, Addresses, Career, Honors Awards, Writings, Adaptations, Sidelights
Born 1959, in Brooklyn, NY; Education: Attended San Francisco State University.
Agent—c/o Author Mail, HarperCollins Children's, 1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019.
Freelance writer, c. 1996–; creative writing instructor, 1996–.
American Library Association Best Books for Young Adults designation, 2006, for The Orpheus Obsession.
Johnny Voodoo, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1996.
The Orpheus Obsession, HarperTempest (New York, NY), 2005.
Contributor to periodicals, including Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, Interview, and Woodstock Times.
Johnny Voodoo was adapted as an audiobook by Recorded Books, 1997.
Reflecting its author's familiarity with New York City and its urban culture, Dakota Lane's debut novel, Johnny Voodoo, focuses on Deirdre, a sixteen year old
who has just suffered the loss of her mother. As the story opens, Deirdre is uprooted by her artist father from her familiar home in New York City and taken to live with him in a rural community in Louisiana. Deirdre finds it hard to adjust to her new home and school and begins to rebel against her father. However, she soon meets the boy described by Lane's title, whose real name is Johnny Vouchamps. Johnny has a mysterious, exotic quality that attracts Deirdre, and he is rumored by the other students to be homeless. Deirdre's
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father tries to discourage the relationship, causing more tension between parent and child. As Johnny's behavior becomes increasingly strange, however, Deirdre begins to reconsider her father's advice more seriously. The story concludes with Deirdre becoming closer to her family and classmates. Deirdre decides that "the love she had for her mother and for Johnny will live forever in her heart," wrote Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Mary Hedge.
Lane drew on her own life experiences, as well as her knowledge of New York City, in penning her first novel. In a Publishers Weekly interview, she explained that, as a child, she attended some twenty-five schools. At one school, according to interviewer Cindi DiMarzo, Lane "was the only white girl" and "she experienced firsthand the intense bathroom scenes described in Johnny Voodoo, in which the popular girls try to intimidate anyone who dares to be different." Lane also incorporated other experiences from her childhood in the novel, including "stories about the bayou that were told to her by a babysitter," explained DiMarzo.
Critics responded favorably to Johnny Voodoo. Margaret Cole, writing in School Library Journal, hailed the novel as "a well-paced story filled with symbolism, emotion, and intriguing characters," while a Publishers Weekly commentator observed that the book's "mood is perfect." Deborah Stevenson, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, commended Lane's "incisive accuracy about various cliques and patterns in the high-school social world."
Another sixteen year old is the subject of Lane's second novel, The Orpheus Obsession. Stuck in upstate New York for the summer and looking for ways to avoid dealing with her mentally unstable and abusive mother, high schooler Anooshka Stargirl frequently travels south to visit her older sister, ZZ Moon, and spend the weekend in ZZ's Manhattan apartment. During these heady escapes to the city she becomes drawn to the music of a popular up-and-coming rocker known as Orpheus. After hearing his music during a performance at Brighton Beach, she begins to obsess over Orpheus's lyrics, which speak to her own feelings. Fixated, Annoshka discusses his music in online chats, and while following his blog on the Internet she begins to believe that she
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and the musician have a special connection. In typical groupie form, she pieces together Orpheus's day-to-day life from his blog entries, and sets about tracking him down, even when his path leads her to destructive behavior in a less-than-hospitable part of the city. Unlike most fans, Anooshka ultimately meets her idol, and the photographs she takes recording her summer journey are incorporated into Lane's compelling story.
Reviewing The Orpheus Obsession, critics found parallels both with Lane's debut novel and the fiction of West coast writer Francesca Lia Block. Contrasting the novel with Johnny Voodoo, Booklist reviewer Debbie Carton wrote that Lane's second novel "takes a fascinating premise and develops it with even more high crafted prose." A Publishers Weekly contributor also praised the novel, calling Anooshka a "brash, hip heroine" and noting that Lane's storyline will be "instantly recognizable to … anyone who has ever experienced the highs and lows of an obsessive crush." Kliatt critic Claire Rosser noted the references to the myth of Eurydice and Orpheus, god of the underworld, adding that The Orpheus Obsession "has a dreamlike quality to it." In School Library Journal Miranda Doyle praised Lane's "lyrical, angst-filled story" and predicted that sophisticated teen readers will "identify with Anooshka's intense emotions," brought to life through "highly descriptive, poetic language."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Booklist, September 15, 1996, p. 232; September 15, 2005, Debbie Carton, review of The Orpheus Obsession, p. 58.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, January, 1997, Deborah Stevenson, review of Johnny Voodoo, p. 178; July-August, 2005, review of The Orpheus Obsession.
Kirkus Reviews, June 15, 2005, review of The Orpheus Obsession, p. 685.
Kliatt, July, 2005, Claire Rosser, review of The Orpheus Obsession, p. 12.
Publishers Weekly, November 18, 1996, review of Johnny Voodoo, pp. 76-77; December 16, 1996, Cindi DiMarzo, "Flying Starts," p. 32.
School Library Journal, November, 1996, Margaret Cole, review of Johnny Voodoo, p. 123; September, 2005, Miranda Doyle, review of The Orpheus Obsession, p. 205.
Teaching and Learning Literature, September-October, 1997, pp. 95-96.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1996, Mary Hedge, review of Johnny Voodoo, p. 210.