Monday, January 23, 2006

Today, our GCC guest is Laurie Stolarz, who is zipping through the blogosphere to promote the latest book in her series of magical teen thrillers, Red is for Remembrance:

Stacey Brown’s gift cuts both ways. Her predictive nightmares keep her on the lookout for the marauding maniacs that seem to find her wherever she goes. The folk magic she learned from her grandmother helps protect her and her friends from things that go bump in the night. However, she longs for the quiet life of an ordinary, hormone-plagued high-school girl. Luckily for her droves of dedicated readers, Stacey’s nightmares just keep on coming.

I had the chance to ask Laurie a few questions about her creative process:

--Dreams play a large role in your novels. Do your own dreams influence your writing process?

I'd like to say yes, but not really. I have, however, learned that you can train yourself to dream about what you want/need to know, much the way my main character does. It takes practice and patience, but it's definitely possible.

--What inspired this 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. 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 my main character 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. 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 practice/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. After writing Blue is for Nightmares, I knew I wanted to create a trilogy, which I did, however, I also knew that the ending of Silver is for Secrets begged for a sequel. That is how Red is for Remembrance came to be.

--What inspires you, in general?

Good food, good friends, good reality TV (if there is such a thing), yoga, healthy cooking, writing a really great scene, and especially my readers. I have the most supportive readers; I'm very lucky.

--You write for a teenage audience. Do you do anything special to connect with your readers?

I can't tell you the last time I read an "adult" book. I read what they read, including magazines. And, I watch an embarrassing amount of MTV, including all those reality shows. I eavesdrop on teens when they talk. I also teach part-time at a local college and that connects me to older teens.

--Any advice for aspiring writers?

I would recommend reading what it is you love. Ask yourself why you love it, why you feel it works. What technique does the writer use that works for you? What point-of-view? What do you like about the dialogue? The characters? Do the same for books that don’t appeal to you. Become a better reader. By answering some of these questions, you’ll become one. You’ll be able to identify what works for you as a reader. Then, apply those elements to your writing. Also, join a writers group. I rely heavily on mine. They’re there for inspiration as well as critiques. We support each other through every step of the process – from that first idea to the finished book. And lastly, of course, it goes without saying that before you send anything out, know the market. Know which editors are looking for your type of book, what their policy is on reading unsolicited manuscripts, if you’ll need an agent, and which agents are accepting new clients in your genre. Also, be sure to ask your agent for a client list, check that they’re a member of AAR (, and never pay reading fees.

--I always ask a question about fruit. Since your book is centered around nightmares--what do you think is the most nightmarish fruit and why?

Definitely blood oranges. I think the name says it all.

--Thanks so much for stopping by, Laurie! I wish you sweet dreams and fruitful nightmares as you continue your tour...

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