I'm back from a quick weekend trip to Chicago, where I greatly amused the locals with my childish (and I do mean "childish" rather than "childlike") enthusiasm for snow, and am still trying to catch up and recover. Fortunately, it's Girlfriends Cyber Circuit day, so my guest, Laurie Faria Stolarz, gets to do most of the work today.
Laurie is the author of a series of teen paranormal thrillers about heroine Stacey Brown, whose 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. The series started with Blue is for Nightmares and continued with White is for Magic and Silver is for Secrets.
In the latest book, Red is for Remembrancce, 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.
And now, the interview:
What inspired you to write 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, 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 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.
Describe your creative process.
I use an outline. I didn't initially. When I was writing Blue is for Nightmares, I had no idea what was going to happen next. The result? I ended up having to rewrite it four times (completely), throwing away hundreds of pages. Now I use an outline that guides me. I can discover/change things along the way, but the outline, for me, is the glue.
Do you have any writing habits or rituals?
I work whenever my toddler is napping or at play group. Right now he's at play group and I'm eating an everything bagel and drinking orange juice, but I'm very flexible and love black coffee.
How much, if anything, do you have in common with your heroine?
I think we're a lot alike in some respects. I was close to my grandmother the way she is. My grandmother had some experience with the sixth sense and gave me her amethyst ring. I don't have premonitions and I'm not a practicing Wiccan, but I do love candles, home remedies, and aromatherapy. Stacey and I also think a lot alike; we're both very reflective.
What are the biggest challenges to you in writing a series about the same main character?
Continuing to challenge myself as a writer.
Chocolate: dark or milk?
(I haven't tallied the results, but it does appear that dark is the predominant choice of writers.)
What are you working on now?
The companion book to Bleed, my next project which comes out in September.
Is there anything else you'd like to say about this book or the process of writing it?
Just that I'm so grateful that I was able to write it. If it weren't for the support and enthusiasm of my fans, this series would have stopped at two books.
For more information, you can visit Laurie's web site.
We're approaching the first anniversary of the Girlfriends Cyber Circuit, and while we have many new members, we're also going to start having second tours by the founding members, which means I may need to come up with some new interview questions. Let me know in comments if you have any burning questions you'd like to see authors answer about their work and the process of writing it.