CSUEB graduate completes second book


Photo by Louis LaVenture/The Pioneer

Louis LaVenture,

For most 24-year-old college graduates, life consists of looking for jobs or settling into a position using the skills they recently acquired.

However, Cal State East Bay alum Lauren Lola already has a firm grasp on what she wants to do: write.

Lola’s second novel, “An Absolute Mind” was released in Nov. 2016 and the author recently read a portion of her new release at Suju’s Coffee in Fremont in December. This is the follow-up to her first novel released in July 2014 titled “A Moment’s Worth.”

While Lola considered her first novel “contemporary fantasy science fiction,” she said her second novel is strictly science fiction. The book focuses on a college sophomore named Sonya Ogino who learns she has a genetic ability called “absolute memory” that allows her to see things when she touches objects. The novel takes place 50 years in the future where college is free, a quarter of the United States population identifies as mixed-race and the president is a mixed-race lesbian woman.

“It was something I could relate to because I am different,” Lola said.

The communications major left CSUEB with a minor in theater after she completed her degree in Dec. 2014. Lola said that her time in college influenced her books and characters, evidenced by the college-aged students in her first book and the main character of her second book who is in college as well.

In addition to going to school full-time, Lola also did Taekwondo, was involved with several campus clubs and a non-profit organization that showcases Asian-American talent, making her window to write small.

“I would work on writing them whenever I could,” Lola said. “Before, during, between classes, I was always writing down notes.”

Lola is from the East Bay, born in Fremont and raised in Newark and said she has been interested in writing books and stories as long as she can remember.

“My dad told me one day something to the effect of ‘you knew you were a writer when you were in the sandbox,’” Lola said. “Both of my parents were major bookworms and really encouraged me and my brothers to read and write.”

According to Lola, her half Filipino and half white ethnicity has also influenced the storylines and characters in her writings.

“For me, developing a book is a very sloppy and up-in-the-air process,” Lola said. “It’s just in a manner of writing down thoughts you might have on a whim, seeing if they stick and if it doesn’t, at least is documented. It involves world building, societal mentality, who the characters are, races, ethnicities and how does that play a role in who the characters are as people.”

During her time at East bay, Lola also dabbled in journalism as a staff writer and an arts and entertainment editor at The Pioneer Newspaper, during her freshman and sophomore years. Lola was also active in the theater department and made several connections including one with a former teacher, associate professor Ann Fajilan, who recently directed the CSU Ferguson play.

Fajilan said she remembered Lola as a passionate student and would like to bring her back to campus during the spring quarter to read passages from her newest book to her class.

In addition to the clubs and nonprofits she devoted time to, Lola also worked as an intern at The Center for Asian American Media in San Francisco. According to CAAM, they fund, produce, distribute and exhibit television, film and digital media primarily by Asians and Asian Americans for more than 35 years.

“Once I finished college, I really didn’t have to apply,” Lola said. “It was just kind of like, see you on Monday. They really knew me.”

Lola said she has many duties at CAAM that include sifting through submissions as well as writing things for the website.

Despite the busy schedule, Lola keeps a plethora of projects on the back-burner, including an anthology geared for theater she is co-writing called “The Geek Show,” which she described as “The highs and lows of being a geek.” Lola said the show should premier in San Francisco in April.

Lola also just had a poem accepted for publication in the upcoming issue of Zine literary magazine, the fourth time she has had her work accepted for the publication. She has written other poems for performers and is trying to connect with some friends in Los Angeles to create a screenplay.