January 26, 2006

3 Questions: Laurie Faria Stolarz

The American Library Association loves them some Laurie Faria Stolarz. Stolarz is the brain power behind a popular series of YA books about a young witch who faces danger and solves mysteries to protect her friends. Think Buffy meets A Great and Terrible Beauty. The ALA has nominated three of the books in her series for Quick Picks for Reluctant readers. The first book, Blue is for Nightmares, was both a Quick Pick and a Top Ten Books for Teens Pick. The third book in the series, Silver is for Secrets was a Quill awards nominee, and in August the fourth book, Red is for Remembrance launched.

Stolarz inked a deal last year with Hyperion/Disney for her first book outside the series. It's called Bleed, and it explores chance and coincidence and the way people's decisions influence each other's lives. It starts out with one girl's decision to betray her best friend by going after her best friend's boyfriend while the friend is away. Bleed will be out spring 2006

JJ: I haven't had many chances to do 3 Questions with an author who writes a series. How do you keep timeline/world you have built straight and characters fresh, growing and yet still themselves from book to book? This is a stretch to call this ONE question, I realize. OOPS! I will continue this thread in Q2, though, as I am so interested...

LS: This is a challenge, but I try to think of each book in terms of one novel. Each novel poses a series of challenges for the main character. Stacey, my main character, continues to grow and learn something new in each book. The thing that she learns - be it self esteem, forgiveness, or otherwise - enables her to accomplish her goal. My readers have really grown close to Stacey because they've see her learn and figure things out. They know her character well. They feel for her and root for her when she needs to overcome some obstacle.

JJ: I saw on your website you just sold a book to Hyperion/Disney called BLEED. This is your first outside the series -- can you talk a little bit about that transition and how this book is different?

LS: While I was trying to sell Blue is for Nightmares, the first novel in the series, I started to write Bleed. I wanted to do something completely different, pushing the YA/adult envelope, exploring edgy material without really thinking about an audience. I experimented with voice, with tense and POV. It was almost like a self-initiated writing exercise that turned into an entire manuscript. It was very refreshing to do something new. I had just spent over two years writing Blue is for Nightmares and another two years editing and rewriting it. I was ready for something fresh.

JJ: As a Southern writer, I think everything is about locationlocationlocation. How did growing up in witch-famous Salem influence your work?

LS: Oddly enough, growing up in Salem, I ignored all of the tourist traps. I'd walk past the Witch House on my way to school and think nothing of it. I'd pass the Witch Dungeon, the cemetary where Giles Cory was crushed to death, walk through Gallow's Hill (the site where the witches were hung) and not give any of it a second thought. For most who live in Salem, Witches are considered everyday people who work, go to school, have families. It isn't anything extraordinary. I never thought I'd explore Witchcraft in my work and it actually happened by accident. I had my main character meditating in front of a candle, not really knowing what she was going to do. Like me, she lived in Salem. People in my writers group linked the candle with the city and encouraged me to go the Wiccan route, which I did. I ended up going back to my roots, learning about passed down home remedies within my family. I also researched the formal practices of Witchcraft and Wicca. It was very rewarding to be able to go back to my roots - go back to Salem - and portray Wicca and Witchcraft the way it was intended, to show the peaceful nature of these ways of life/r

Thanks Laurie!

Posted by joshilyn at January 26, 2006 8:31 AM

I love a series and have no fear reading out of my age group. I will have to find these and pass them on to my niece. I recently critiqued a book targeted for reluctant readers and was impressed at the depth and action in the book. I could understand why a teen would keep turning the pages as the world inside the covers unfolded. A series seems even more compelling when written well.

Her titles remind me of the Travis McGee series MacDonald wrote back in the sixties and seventies - I devoured anything Travis McGee.

Posted by: Cele at January 26, 2006 11:49 AM