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Sunday, April 4, 2010

Interview with Laurie Faria Stolarz


Some secrets shouldn't be kept...

Until three months ago, everything in sixteen-year-old Camelia's life had been fairly ordinary: decent grades, an okay relationship with her parents, and a pretty cool part-time job at the art studio downtown. But when a mysterious boy named Ben starts junior year at her high school, Camelia's life becomes anything but ordinary.

Rumored to be somehow responsible for his ex-girlfriend's accidental death, Ben is immediately ostracized by everyone on campus. Except for Camelia. She's reluctant to believe he's trouble, even when her friends try to convince her otherwise. Instead, she's inexplicably drawn to Ben.and to his touch. But soon, Camelia is receiving eerie phone calls and strange packages with threatening notes. Ben insists she is in danger, and that he can help-but can he be trusted? She knows he's hiding something... but he's not the only one with a secret.


Q: What inspired you to write the Touch series?

A: I wanted to write a story where the main character has to struggle with the idea of falling in love with someone who could potentially be dangerous. I tinkered with this concept in the first three books of my Blue is for Nightmares Series [(Blue is for Nightmares (Llewellyn 2003),White is for Magic (Llewellyn 2004), and Silver is for Secrets (Llewellyn 2005), as well as in Bleed (Hyperion 2006)]. In Bleed, in particular, there’s a young male character who was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend. His next relationship consists of pen pal letters he exchanges with a young girl while he’s in prison. Without giving too much away, the relationship is briefly pursued once he is released, but I wanted to bring this concept to another level.

Additionally, I wanted to continue experimenting with the supernatural (which I also use in my Blue is for Nightmares Series as well as inProject 17), showing how we all have our own inner senses and intuition, and how with work we can tap into those senses and make them stronger.

I started researching different types of supernatural powers and discovered the power of psychometry (the ability to sense things through touch). The concept fascinated me, and so I wanted to bring it out in a character, showing how sometimes even the most extraordinary powers can also be a curse.

Lastly, I wanted to apply these concepts to be part of a series. I love the idea of growing a main character over the course of several books.

Q: What was your query process like?

A: I approached editors and agents at the same time, trying to target those who worked with writers like me (namely, writers who wrote in the young adult supernatural genre). It took me a long time to sell my first novel. I have a folder filled with rejection letters. My favorite one is from an editor who said: “While this is an interesting project, I do not feel it is strong enough to compete in today’s competitive young adult market.” That same young adult novel, BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES, has sold over 200,000 copies, has been translated into numerous different languages, and has appeared on many different award lists. When I speak to young people and aspiring writers, I always tell them this story, that if I had stopped persevering, after I received my first – or my 40th rejection letter – I may never have been able to enjoy the success of my series.

Q: Are any of your characters based off people you know?

A: No, though sometimes I’ll steal a character quirk from people I’ve known. For example, in the Blue is for Nightmares series, Amber carries around a pair of chopsticks for whenever she’s eating out. I once knew someone who did that.

Q: Cameila has a love for pottery—do you have a love for it as well? Does it help you relax like it does Camelia? If not, how do you relax?

A: Yes, I love pottery, and have been doing it since I was a kid. My mom worked in a ceramics studio and I often went to work with her, helping out whenever I could. I also relax by walking, napping, cooking, yoga, and watching lots of reality TV.

Q: When writing, do you use an outline or just wing it?

A: I use an outline.

Q: What are you working on right now?

A: I’m currently working on the edits of DEADLY LITTLE GAME, the third book in the TOUCH SERIES. I’m also editing DO YOU SEE, the third book in THE AMANDA PROJECT.

Q: Is there anything you can tell us about the next installment of the Touch Series?

A: The title DEADLY LITTLE GAMES holds very true – there is a literal game going on. Things between Camelia and Ben continue to get complicated, and Adam’s presence doesn’t help things. We’ll also get to see more of Camelia’s aunt.

Q: Did you always know that you wanted to write young adult novels? More specifically, paranormal?

A: Yes, though I loved telling stories as a young person, I wasn’t a big reader. As soon as I got slightly bored, I’d put the book down. I tended to gravitate toward books that kept me turning pages. Those books turned out to be of the mystery/suspense/paranormal genre. I knew I wanted to write books that appealed to me at that age.

Q: Did you test other genres before settling on teens as your audience?

A: I started with screenplay, because I love to see my books as scenes. I then went on to write young adult novels. My second novel, BLEED, (though 4th published), was originally written for adults before I sold it in the young adult market.


Emma Michaels said...

Yeay! Thank you so much for posting this! I am on rejection 44 and haven't found an agent even willing to read my manuscript even though I had an editor from a much smaller e-book publisher edit it for me and they said that if I cold not find a larger publisher they would publish me in a heart beat. I just can't find a way to get someone larger to notice me but this post gave me hope so thank you!

Anonymous said...

Persistence pays off. I have Deadly Little Secret and Blue is for Nightmares. I can't wait to get to them in my TBR pile.

bclement412 said...

@Emmw Michaels: that's great news about the editor though! and don't give up, like Medeia Sharif said persistence pays off. I'm on rejection 70+ and still haven't given up! You'll find that perfect agent in no time ;))

@Medeia Sharif: You give some awesome advice. DLS is a great read and Blue is for NIghtmares is on my TBR pile as well. Hope you enjoy them!

Krista Ashe said...

This sounds like a great series that I'll look forward to reading. And congrats for your persistence. I had a rough road to being agented, and now I'm riding the submission game. It's tough, but you have to persevere.

Great interview, B!

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