Sunday, January 29, 2006

Author Q&A: Laurie Stolarz (young adult suspense author)

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1) Can you give us a blurb about your current book, RED IS FOR REMEMBRANCE?

"I Know You're Alone . . ."
Nothing has been the same for eighteen-year-old Stacey since her boyfriend Jacob died. For months she stayed at the beach cottage they shared before Jacob's tragic accident, refusing to give up hope that somehow, somewhere, Jacob was still alive. But Stacey knows she can't put off rejoining the world forever. Lucky to have a full scholarship to prestigious Beacon University, Stacey hopes she can finally put her past behind her. Trying to get through her first week of college as just another normal student, Stacey is devastated when she starts having more disturbing dreams. And keeping them secret is not an option when the college president calls her in for a private meeting – and reveals that his daughter Porsha is having nightmares too. But while Stacey dreams of a ghost, Porsha is dreaming of a murder she's convinced hasn't happened yet. Porsha's fragmented nightmares foretell a brutal murder, and may also shed light on a shocking revelation that could change Stacey's life forever. Together the two must decode their dark dreams to save a life – a risk that may cost them their own.

2) Your series follows Stacey through high school and the beginning of college. Can you talk a little bit about how Stacey had grown over the course of these books? How do you keep each book fresh?

She's learned how to trust her instincts and intuition. She's much more accepting of herself as each novel progresses. She always has a lot on her plate, saving people from stalkers and all, and she makes mistakes along the way. But she also learns from her mistakes. She's learned to forgive herself. She's a much stronger, more confident person now.

3) Your books are about nightmares, stalkers and killers. How do you balance the thriller aspect with the age of your audience? Do you hold back at all or do you push it as far as you want?

I think teens are aware of these things - perhaps not personally - but they know they exist. I try to honestly show how one character deals with these things. The emphasis is not on the danger per se. The emphasis is on how my main character deals with that danger. She needs to face her fears and learn through her mistakes. In addition to the danger, my character is also a high school student who must deal with things like passing class, not getting along with her mom, falling in love with her best friend's boyfriend.

4) What kind of research have you done on nightmares and premonitions? How did you get interested in this subject?

I did a ton of research on dreams - how we can use dreams to tell us what we want/need to know. I also did a ton of research on Wicca, Witchcraft, and folk magic. When I first started writing Blue is for Nightmares, I had no idea I would delve into these topics. I only knew I wanted to write a suspense. Stacey became a practicing Wiccan quite by accident during a freewriting class in grad school. It totally caught me by surprise as well. But, it definitely worked. I knew that my grandmother had some experience with the sixth sense. I started asking lots of questions, researching passed down home remedies within my family; this brought me closer to my grandmother even though she had already passed away.

5) What was your path to becoming an award winning published author? Was it a tough road to get published? What was your background? When you were in highschool, did you know you wanted to be a writer?

I always knew I wanted to be a writer. I wrote my first book when I was seven and I still have it. But because we didn't have a lot of money growing up, studying English or writing in college was considered a luxury. I ended up studying business with the intent of making lots of money in something practical. Once I was done with my undergrad, I was determined to finally pursue my dream of writing. I took out some school loans and ended up in a graduate creative writing program, which, to me, was unreal - being in class with people who are just like you in that respect. We all shared the same dream. Once my first novel was complete, finding a publisher was challenging because I didn't have any contacts. I was looking for agents and editors at the same time, doing research on who was publishing/accepting what. It took me a little over a year to find an editor who was really excited about my project. I sent my manuscript to Llewellyn because I knew they published new age young adult fiction. The rest is history.

6) Stacey and her friends go through some tough times in high school. What's your worst memory from high school?

Getting peed on in the middle of a cheerleading competition. I was one of the base people, supporting another girl's knees during a shoulder stand. She lost control right on my head in front of a thousand spectators.

7) So, when you were in high school, were you cool?

No, I wasn't considered one of the cool kids. I think I was just considered average in terms of popularity. I had my groups of friends. I hung out with some of my cheerleading friends as well as some of the smart kids. I wasn't particularly fond of high school. I had much more fun at my part-time job. My friends there were less serious and intense, more fun.

8) What's the coolest/worst reader email you've ever received?

I am very fortunate to receive many fabulous reader e-mails. I'm always so flattered when readers tell me how they've learned so much from Stacey, how strongly they identify with her. One girl even told me that the books have changed her life.

9) Can you give us a sneak peek at your next book, BLEED?

BLEED explores chance and coincidence and the way our decisions influence each other's lives - sometimes unintentionally. It starts out with one girl's decision whether or not to betray her best friend by pursuing her best friend's boyfriend while she is away. We see how that decision has a domino effect, affecting other people in the collection.

Visit Laurie on the web


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