Laurie Stolarz Speaks

Laurie Stolarz, North Shore author, sold over 750,000 copies of her first book “Blue is for Nightmare” and it has been translated into numerous languages across the world. Stolarz talks to Art*Throb about her newest book to be published in December, “Deadly Little Lessons.”

1.      What is your newest book entitled, when does it come out, and what inspired it?

My newest book is called DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS (Disney/Hyperion 2012) and it’s slated for a December release.  It’s the fifth and final book of the TOUCH series.

Following the success of my Blues is for Nightmares series, in which my main character is plagued and then empowered by her premonitions, I wanted to continue working in the supernatural/paranormal genre.  I tinkered a little bit with the genre in PROJECT 17 (Disney/Hyperion 2007), where my main character breaks into an abandoned mental institution that’s rumored to be haunted, but I wanted to pursue it further, in another series, experimenting with the idea that 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 the past or future 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.

In my series, Ben, the new boy at school, is rumored to have accidentally killed his ex-girlfriend.  He ended up completely reclusive as a result, not leaving his house and getting homeschooled by tutors.  But then, flash forward two full years, Ben wants to try a stab at normal life again, despite his psychometric powers.  He enrolls at a school a few hours from his hometown, where no one knows him or of his past.  But then everything goes awry when he accidentally touches Camelia, the main character, and senses that her life is in danger.

Throughout the series, Ben’s feelings for Camelia grow, and he has to decide how close he wants to get to her, knowing that it was his touch power that contributed to the death of his past girlfriend.  The series is chock full of suspense, forbidden romance, dark humor, and drama.

Watch the book trailer here:

2.      Why have you chosen the supernatural/thriller/mystery genre?

As a young person, I enjoyed books that kept me turning pages, compelling me to the very end.  Though I loved telling stories as a young person, I wasn’t an avid reader.  As soon as I became somewhat bored, I’d put the book down. I tended to gravitate toward mysteries and thrillers. As an adult, writing for teens, I knew I wanted to write books that would have appealed to me at that age.  My first novel, BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES (Llewellyn 2003), is a direct product of what I thought my teen self would’ve enjoyed, and so I packed it with suspense, romance, drama, humor, and mystery.  As for what I read now, not too much has changed.  I read books that are suspenseful in some way.  I read a lot of young adult fiction to keep myself abreast of what’s out there in the market.  And I give myself permission to put a book down if I don’t find it compelling in some way.

3.      What was your reaction to the popularity of “Blue is for Nightmares?”
I’m so grateful for how well it was – and continues to be – received.  I could never have predicted its success.  The series alone has sold close to 750K books and been translated into numerous languages around the world.  It also helped spawn the Flux publication imprint (Llewellyn Worldwide).

4.      Did growing up in Salem inspire you and/or your writing? How?

Growing up, it was really no big deal to have practicing Wiccans in class with you in school.  They’re normal people, with normal jobs, who go about their normal lives.  It’s a major religion here, and people take it very seriously.  I think Salem’s biggest influence on me is that I’m open to that.

5.      Your books are focused towards teens but do you feel that they translate to an adult audience as well?

I think the lines of teen and young adult material started blurring years ago, when adults began reading books like Harry Potter and Twilight.  I also think the young adult market has opened up so much; there isn’t much off limits anymore in terms of content.  I get fan mail from adults who read my work because they love the suspenseful-page-turning quality of it.  A lot of adults also enjoy the forbidden love aspects and/or reading about the angst and drama of those cringe-worthy high school years.  Some adults find my books on their own.  Others like to read what their sons and daughters are reading in a quest to understand them more and relate to them in another way.  However adults find my work – or for whatever reason they’re reading it – I’m grateful.

6.      Any plans on writing a book particularly for an adult audience?

I wrote my novel BLEED (Disney/Hyperion 2006) for adults.  I’d just written a couple of books in the BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series, and I wanted to try something new, exploring edgier topics without censoring myself in any way.  But, by the time I went to sell it, the young adult market had opened so much – exposing teens to a whole lot more – that BLEED got snatched up by a young adult publisher.

7. What advice would you give to the novice author considering writing for a career?

My biggest advice is to persevere.  There are many talented writers who give up after 5, 10, or even 50 rejection letters.  Be open to learning and to getting better in your craft.  If more than one person criticizes the same point in your work – i.e. your main character whines too much – chances are you need to look at that point again.  Never pay reading fees while trying to get published – ever.  Do your homework.  Know to whom you’re sending your query letter, who that person’s clients are, what that person’s track record is (i.e. the details of his or her most recent acquisitions), and what that person is looking for.  Every letter should be personalized and reflect that you’ve done your research.  And, lastly, consider joining a writers group.  There’s nothing better than being in a group of like-minded writers who can help inspire and cheer you on, and who can provide constructive feedback that can help to strengthen your work.

Kathleen Anne Casey is the Web Managing Editor for North Shore Art*Throb and writes book reviews on her blog, Shelf Life of a Bookseller.

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