Smile Politely

U of I alum Lauren Spieller is coming to Illini Union Bookstore to share her debut novel

Spieller graduated in 2008 with a degree in English, and her debut endeavor Your Destination is on the Left is a young adult novel about a character named Dessa, “a modern day nomad traveling via RV through the country with her family.” Here’s what she has to say about it:

“The idea for Your Destination Is on the Left came to me a few weeks after I moved to New York in 2014. My husband and I hauled a trailer full of our stuff all the way from California, and we were exhausted from the trip. I was no stranger to long drives since I’d driven across from California to University of Illinois many times, but the trip to New York was by far the longest.

I started to think about how difficult it would be to drive for more than a week, which made me think of one of the original ‘road trip’ stories — The Odyssey. That got me thinking… what if I did a retelling of The Odyssey, but instead of it being about Odysseus, it was about a Greek-American teenager named Dessa? And instead of traveling home after the fall of Troy, she was a nomad, living in an RV caravan, traveling the United States? And what if, instead of battling the monsters of mythology, she was forced to contend with her own personal demons? Before long I was rereading Homer’s epic and researching RV life, not to mention all the wonderful places along Route 66.

Three years later, the book has changed a lot — it’s really more inspired by The Odyssey than it is a retelling, and there’s quite a bit more romance in Your Destination than in Homer’s tale — but I owe a lot to that long trip across the country, the snacks I ate along the way, and to Homer!”

She will be speaking with Kirstin Wilcox, director of internships and senior lecturer of the English Department, at the Author’s Corner at Illini Union Bookstore on Tuesday, October 30th at 7 p.m. The event is free and open to the public, light refresments will be served, and the book will be available for purchase. A book signing will follow.

Image from the Illini Union Bookstore website

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