Laurie Faria Stolarz is on my auto-buy list. I’ve read and own every single book she’s ever published and I love her writing style. It’s always creative, dark, and captivating.
I was delighted when she agreed to come on my blog today to talk spooky things and books! It only seemed fitting that it would be on Halloween. Let’s dive in!
Hi Laurie! Thank you so much for letting me interview you. Here’s my first question. You are one of my favorite spooky writers. Where do you draw your scary-inspiration from? Have you always loved scary things?
Thank you! Even though I write scary stories, – I’m the biggest scaredy cat ever. You name it – bugs, critters, haunted houses, dark places, basements, attics, creaking noises at night, horror movies, abandoned places, creepy dolls, creepier clowns, libraries at night… The list goes on and on.
A lot of people ask me if I ever draw inspiration from nightmares I have. I don’t normally have nightmares, but I did a few years back and WELCOME TO THE DARK HOUSE was the result. In my nightmare, I dreamed about horror film fanatics from around the country – all of them eagerly awaiting the next film in a certain famed director’s cult-followed movie series. In my dream, the famed director was pretty done with his cult-followed series (in the book it’s called the Nightmare Elf series). He wanted to pursue “more serious” projects. But since there was so much interest in his Nightmare Elf movies, he decided to host a contest: fans of the Nightmare Elf series could enter their worst nightmare for the chance to meet the director (in the book, he’s named Justin Blake) and see his confidential new project.
Six teens win and get flown from around the country to stay in a house (think MTV’s The Real World). As the winners arrive, they couldn’t be more excited. They can’t wait to meet Justin Blake and see his confidential film.
That’s when my dream took a dark turn. I dreamed that the winners get taken – by limo – to the screening destination, only once they get there, they find that there’s no screening at all. I don’t want to give too much away, but let’s just say there’s a creepy amusement park involved and their worst nightmares come back to haunt them.
That book series is one of my favorites! I died when I had to wait for the sequel to come out! Okay, so I know I mentioned I’m a huge fan and own every single one of your books. There are so many and I love to re-read them. Do you have a favorite book that you’ve written?
I love BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES because it was my very first book and I learned so much from it. I also love BLEED, because I got to experiment with voice, character, structure, and format, while pushing the boundaries. BLEED explores the idea of chance and consequence and how the decisions we make every day, big or small, can have a domino effect, affecting the lives of others, even those we may not know. For example, your phone rings and you decide to let it go to voicemail. What is the effect of that decision – for you and the other person? How many lives does that decision touch?
BLEED also looks at different perspectives of the same events, the way SHUTTER does. In SHUTTER, my main character Day Connor, looks at the same images from different perspectives to try to find truth. In Day’s case, she’s trying to figure out if Julian Roman, a boy who escaped from a juvenile detention facility as he was awaiting trial for murder, is guilty or innocent.
What is your writing process like? Tea? Cookies? Music? Silence? Sitting in a creepy amusement park?
I like black coffee and silence. Music can be distracting unless I’m using it as a tool to get me into a particular mood to write a scene. I also love anything salty, especially popcorn with salt, pepper, and garlic salt.
Being that this is a trick-or-treat interview, do you believe in ghosts? Werewolves? Vampires?
Ghosts – yes, sadly, I do, and that makes going into the basement all the more challenging. Do I believe in werewolves and vampires? No, not the way they’re portrayed in movies and books, though I know there are individuals who live a vampire lifestyle. I haven’t met them though, or maybe I have and just don’t know it.
Once when I was in TJ Maxx, Laurie Cabot, Salem, Massachusetts’ official witch, approached me from behind, shoved a crystal cluster rock into my hand, and told me the entire plot of my novel (one that had already been written and was sitting in the hands of my thesis advisor). She didn’t “sense” it was a novel, however. She pegged me as the main character and she told me my life was in danger and that I had four days to do something about it (four days, just like in the book). She went on to describe the killer and told me not to go anyplace alone for four days. All the while she was talking to me, I just kept thinking: This is my novel. BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES came out about a year and a half later. There’s no way she could have read the novel beforehand. Only some fellow classmates and my thesis chair and reader had access to it.
Also, when I was doing the research for PROJECT17, I went to the abandoned mental institution on which the book is based. Growing up, the former mental hospital was rumored to be haunted (there are actually unmarked graves on the premises). Once I really started delving into the research, visiting the place took on a whole new meaning. I was so horrified that I couldn’t sleep at night.
Oh. My. God. I can’t believe that happened to you with Laurie Cabot. I’m in awe right now! It’s insane! What did you say?! I don’t even know what I would have said. The mental institution research sounds spoookyyyy. Speaking of spooky, what is your favorite scary movie?
I Know What You Did Last Summer
Medusa. I was in high school. It was the best costume, complete with realistic-looking snake hair, a long gold robe-like dress, and a face made up with white and green make-up, but unfortunately my friend got carsick en route to a Halloween party and I happened to be sitting next to her in the car. Picture regurgitated Halloween candy in poor Medusa’s lap.
I love Medusa! That’s such a good one! So, being that you’re an author and all, what is your favorite scary, spooky, or fall read?
Anything by Stephen King
What would your fear be if you were entering the contest in your Welcome to the Dark House series?
It’s hard to pick just one thing. Frankie’s nightmare of getting buried alive was horrifying to me. The idea of spending the night in an abandoned mental institution that’s rumored to be haunted, like in PROJECT 17, is also terrifying. Being trapped anywhere freaks me out, as does being chased. Did I mention, I can’t even go into those Halloween-inspired haunted houses you find at carnivals, nor can I do those “fun houses” with the mirrored glass walls.
Do you have a favorite Halloween song or creepy album?
I can’t do creepy music. Seriously, not even for a few seconds. It really bothers me – like fingernails down a chalkboard. Music can be so powerful. If creepy music were on in my house, I wouldn’t be able to walk from room to room. I know, right? I’m a scaredy cat.
Your new book Shutter sounds amazing! I gobbled up the preview of it on Wattpad and I am freaking out that I have to wait so long. How did this story come about? How is this different from your other books? Can you tell us anything about it or the characters?
Thanks so much! I love the idea of a main character that’s lived her entire life in the shadows of her do-gooder parents. Day, 16, refers to her parents as being superheroes because of all of the amazing things they do each day to make the world a better place, fighting for justice, giving the proverbial underdog a second or third chance.
Up to this point, Day has tried to come up with some super-heroic initiatives of her own, but nothing has panned out the way she intended. She doesn’t realize that something as basic as giving another the benefit of the doubt is pretty admirable and heroic all on its own. As she looks at Julian’s case – the boy who’s been accused of murdering his father – from different perspectives, she treats Julian as a human being, rather than as a criminal. While others are quick to point the finger, Day doesn’t make any assumptions. She simply examines his story from different angles in her quest to find the truth.
I have already ordered my copy and it’s supposed to arrive November 1st! Happy Halloween to me. Now let’s move to the lightning round!
Say the first word that comes to mind when you see the prompt!
Candy corn – sugar
Ghosts – present
Graveyard – creepy
Deadly – knives
That was fun! It was so lovely having you. Thank you so much Laurie for making the time. I can’t wait to read Shutter and I hope that you have a happy Halloween!
About Laurie Faria Stolarz
Laurie Stolarz is the author of several popular young adult novels including the Dark House series, the Touch series, Project 17, and Bleed, (all published by Disney/Hyperion Books for Children), as well as the bestselling Blue is for Nightmares series (Flux Publications). With over a million books sold worldwide, Stolarz’s titles have been translated into over twenty languages, been named on numerous award lists, including the Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers list and the Top Ten Teen Pick list, both through the American Library Association, and have been optioned for TV. Her next book, Shutter, will be released in October of 2016. For more information, please visit her Web site at www.lauriestolarz.com.
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Check out the interviews with the authors below (in alphabetical order):