Monday, February 25, 2008

Enchanting Interview: Laurie Faria Stolarz

Interview with LAURIE FARIA STOLARZ, author of the BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series.

How did you start writing?

I've been writing since before I could even hold a pen. As a small child, I was constantly telling stories to whomever would listen to me. When I'd exhausted my family with my endless babbling, I'd go out and tell my tales to the neighborhood kids – passing the stories off as truth. I'd tell of going into the meadows at night and wrestling with a mountain lion or the time I found a boa constrictor in my mom's garden and had to grapple for my life, winding the snake from around my neck just in the nick of time. Telling stories is just something I've always done. I used to write plays and scripts for my Barbie dolls and make people watch the performances. My love of creating stories continued into school when I'd have to write a paragraph or short essay about what I did during Christmas vacation or summer break. I never thought my own life was exciting enough, so I was forever inventing stories.

People along the way, including some teachers, would tell me that I should pursue writing as a career but, at the time, it wasn't a possibility. We didn't have a lot of money growing up and majoring in something like English wasn't really an option. It was more like a luxury. I ended up going to business school, following in my older brothers' footsteps. It wasn't until after I got my B.S. in marketing that I pursued my graduate degree in creative writing. I'm thankful for my marketing degree now, however, because it really helps me with my books.

Why Young Adult?

I love young adult culture. I think it's a time in one's life that's filled with so much drama, excitement, tension, beauty, grit, and angst – sometimes all rolled into one. There's so much opportunity in there for a writer.

What sparked the idea for BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES? Did you know when you first got the idea that it would become a series?

I first started Blue is for Nightmares in an adolescent fiction writing workshop at Emerson College. I knew I wanted to write a mystery/thriller. I loved suspense novels as a young adult and I really wanted to write something that would have appealed to me at that age, adding in elements of humor, romance, and drama. I wanted my main character to be relatable for teens; I wanted her to be flawed, to have secrets, and to have lots of opportunity for growth.

When I started the novel, I had no idea I would delve into the world of magic and witchcraft. That is until I did a free-writing exercise in my workshop class. I had no idea what I wanted Stacey, my main character to do, so I had her meditating in front of a blue candle, looking for answers. Because I had made Stacey originally from Salem, MA, like me, people in my writers group made the witchcraft connection with the candle. They encouraged me to go in that direction. That one scene ended up being the inspiration for the novel and now the series.

Even though I grew up in Salem, I didn't know too much about the formal practice of the Craft, though I had heard growing up that my grandmother had experience with the sixth sense. I started doing research and asking lots of questions. I learned a lot this way. I learned of passed down home remedies, interesting family superstitions, tea readings, card readings, and specific experiences with the sixth sense, some of which find themselves in the novel.

I also researched the more formal practices of Witchcraft and Wicca, as well as other folk magical practices/home remedies that pass down within families. Having done this research and seeing the way that Witchcraft is so often negatively portrayed in the media, I wanted to show the true peaceful nature of this earth-based religion, without the hocus-pocus. I wanted to weave an education into the story, using Stacey Brown as a reflective, self-empowering young woman.

When I sold Blue is for Nightmares, I knew I wanted to write a trilogy. But, the ending of Silver is for Secrets, the third book, is somewhat of a cliffhanger, which is why I wrote the fourth book, Red is for Remembrance. Teens write to me all the time, asking if I plan to continue the series. We'll see.

What do you like best about writing a series?
I like being able to stick with characters that I grow to enjoy so much. I get to present them with new and interesting challenges, and figure out what they're going to learn and how they're going to grow with each one.

BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES is really a mix of paranormal, mystery and a touch of thriller. Did you know the story would be all three when you began writing?

I knew it would have elements of mystery, suspense, drama, and romance, but the paranormal aspect was a surprise to even me. When I first started Blue is for Nightmares, I wanted to write a book that would have appealed to me as a young adult. The paranormal aspect happened by accident (one of the best accidents that ever happened in my writing) in a free-writing exercise in grad school, but the other elements were very important to me as I began writing.

What's your favorite quality about Stacey?
I love that she's so relatable. She's not the prettiest girl in school, nor the smartest, or the most popular. She doesn't get along so great with adults. She has a lot of secrets. And she's constantly learning and striving to do the right thing.

Which character, if any, surprised you the most?
Stacey surprised me in Red is for Remembrance when she went after Tim. It was very scandalous.

What was the most memorable scene to write?
The ending of Silver is for Secrets – the transcripts between Stacey and her therapist and the letter she wrote to Jacob. People write to me on a regular basis, telling me these last two chapters make them cry every time.

What's your favorite moment in the book?
The scene in White is for Magic when Stacy is in the hotel room with her mother. They share a really nice moment when Stacey realizes how similar she and her mother really are – after years of thinking they couldn't be more different. We learn that Stacey's mother has secrets, too, and Stacey learns the reason her mother is against all-things-magic. It's very touching.

What's next for you?
I might have something brewing related to the Blue is for Nightmares series – it's still too early to tell. Otherwise, I'm currently working on a new series. Deadly Little Secret, the first book in the Touch series, is due out in the fall of 08.

Look for a great contest coming from Laurie and Enchanting YA very soon!

Interviewed by Lisa
Feb. 2008

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