By: Cynthia Ayala
Outside the world was gloomy with dark clouds and cold wind, but inside Laurie Faria Stolarz‘s study in Marblehead, Massachusetts, the atmosphere is warm. Stolarz sits at her desk, with a smile and her blond hair lose, keeping warm in a wool knit sweater and dark jeans, a pencil tucked behind her ear. Bookshelves full of novels and notebooks lean against the walls while an oak desk lays before them, littered with pens, a laptop and an open book before her with scribbles in the margins: her newest book in the making that has already sealed a two-book deal with Disney-Hyperion.
The Dream on Waitlist
Stolarz always loved writing, but with her mother being a single parent taking care of three children, living her dream she had since she was child did not seem practical.
“I always loved to write and even as a child I knew that it was I wanted to do.” Stolarz told stories before she could even write. She would act out plays with her Barbie’s being their director. “I loved to create new worlds with my Barbie’s. They had to act out the story I had in my head.”
Writing was always a passion for hers, but one she had to wait late in life to achieve.
“I went to school and I majored in Business getting a degree in marketing at Merrimack College. Even though I loved to write, it did not seem practical to go after it. Going to school to become a writer just wasn’t in the realm of possibility.”
Not until after she graduated with her marketing degree, did Stolarz think of pursuing her writing dream. Entering Emerson College as a Continuing Ed student, she signed up for the classes that sparked her interest.
“I loved the atmosphere and the people around me inspired me to have the perspective to be a writer and believe that it really was in the realm of possibility for me,” Stolarz says.
It was at Emerson College that she found inspiration for her start-up: Blue is for Nightmares, a four part book series about a girl in high school who has visions and practices folk magic.
“Blue is for Nightmares was a complete accident,” says Stolarz. “I was sitting in class during one of those workshops and we had to write about an object. The only thing I could think of to write was a girl sitting cross-legged in front of a blue candle.” Stolarz had no idea that that thought would turn into a New York Times Bestseller. “As I read mine aloud in class, someone suggested that I should make her a witch since I was from Salem.” So Stolarz dove into the history if her home for her novel.
After that, Stolarz went on to explore the different kinds of Wicca that existed around her. “I did a lot of research for my book,” Stolarz says. Stolarz learned a lot about the difference in Wicca culture and even the differences between kitchen witchery, Wicca itself and folk magic. “Knowing those differences allowed me to really establish my character, and in the end that is what launched me into the paranormal genre.”
Genre Fiction vs. Fiction
Stolarz never really thought that there were so many differences in fiction and decided that her passion was genre fiction.
“I feel comfortable writing about the supernatural so I tried to stick with it as much as possible.” However, not all her novels deal with the supernatural. Bleed, a standalone novel separated by characters whose lives inexplicably intertwine had nothing to do with the supernatural.
“I sold Bleed to Disney-Hyperion as a two book deal. They liked my initial idea of the book, that I would branch out and then write books circling around specific characters. I sent then the information for my initial spin-off and got an e-mail saying ‘can you please call us?’ which is never a good sign.” Stolarz laughs, leaning back into her seat. “So I called them up and they told me my character was too dark and that I should make her lighter, except I didn’t know how to do that because I set her up as this girl in Bleed whose mother makes her wear a sign that says “don’t feed me”. With the issues regarding that, there was no way I could make her lighter.”
Bleed dealt with the relationships and psychological developments of the characters with no addition of the supernatural but with her spin-off novel, Project 17, Stolarz dove right back into the seat of Genre Fiction. “I was disappointed that I couldn’t do what I wanted to but I took some time and reached for another character from Bleed, Derik and my mind ultimately went to the supernatural.” Pitching the idea to Disney-Hyperion, she was pleased that they liked the spooky atmosphere of six teenagers entering and spending the night in an abandoned Asylum.
(NOTE: Project 17 is the novel that has intrigued me the most, the novel that has left the strongest impression on my mind. For example, although I have long since forgotten which character is exploring the asylum, I remember that as the character is going around they stumble into this room where there is this old tattered doll, you know those dolls that have the string in the back, and it’s hanging from a fan and it turns and it starts playing music. I was reading that book at 2AM and I was just freaked out. It’s a scene that still sticks me with me and even though I was frightened, I would not put the book down. The writing and detail was just too good, I was enthralled.)
Stolarz has stuck with the supernatural and paranormal for most of her writing, except for Bleed, but wanted to step out of the realm of ghost and witches for a while.
“After Blue, and Project 17 I wanted to incorporate the psychological aspects I had in Bleed and place it more within the realm of possibility,” says Stolarz. With that in mind, Stolarx began researching and discovered ‘psychometry’. “Psychometry is a technique where some people the ability to see or sense something in the future by touching something. It was definitely something new for me but close enough to what I wanted to do.” After pitching yet another idea to Disney-Hyperion, she was granted another two book deal that expanded into a five book series. Remising happily, Stolarz smiles quickly excusing herself to fix herself a cup of tea.
Returning to her seat, stirring her cup of tea she smiles, un-tucks her pencil and taps it against the desk.
“My Touch Series didn’t go the way I planned when I think about it.” Her love story went the way she planned and the way she ended it was how she wanted to end it since she finished book two. But the subplot with her aunt being her biological mother was new. “I was finishing up book four and with all the similarities between Camilla’s character and her aunt, it felt like a natural progression.” To her yes, but it blew the minds of her readers.
To The Networks!
Stolarz never really knew the difference in writing styles as she was growing up, but always tried to write things as they play in her head. “I always tried to envision my writing as movies,” she says. “I loved movies so much and I just wanted movies to play in the heads of my audience.” It seemed to when she was approached for a production deal for her Blue is for Nightmares series. Stolarz would love that series to be either a TV or movie and would love to see her own book on the big screen but at the same time would know that more of her writing would be visible if it were a TV series. “What I really want to see is my characters grow and develop week by week. That sensation in that of itself would make me incredibly happy.” Luckily for her, Ashley Tisdale’s production company bought the rights and allowed Stolarz to be a part of the writing process alongside Michaek Horowitz, writer for the TV series “Burn Notice”.
Ander’s, as a fan believes that it would “work better as a TV show” because with Stolarz on the team it would really stay close to the novel and allow Stolarz to develop the plot and characters more.
“You Never Stop Learning”
Over the years, Stolarz has written 11 Young Adult novels. “I feel like I’m getting better and feel like I’m getting better and better through the career. I look back and I see how different my styles are,” says Stolarz. Stolarz believes that she is a better writer because she is more acquainted with her writing style and able to catch herself, like words she uses too much and is able to better her writing. Stolaz is even more familiar with the market to know which risks to take to make her books stay true to herself and attract a broad range of readers.