What's Fresh with Laurie Stolarz's Bleed
Ten teens, one unforgettable day.
Over the course of a single day, the lives of ten teenagers will intersect in powerful and unexpected ways.
Among them are Nicole, whose decision to betray her best friend will shock everyone, most of all herself; Kelly, who meets the convicted felon she's been writing to for years; and Maria, whose definition of a true friend is someone who will cut her. Derik discovers his usual good looks and charm won't help him get the girl he really wants, while Joy, a fifteen year old waitress, hoping for true intimacy, narrowly escapes a very dark fate.
Seamlessly woven together, this collection of interconnected short stories paints an authentic portrait of today's teen experience that is at once funny, moving, and often very haunting.
Hello Laurie, thanks for taking the time to share. Could you please tell us a little about your writing background and how you made your first sale?
I've been writing since before I could even hold a pen. As a small child, I was constantly telling stories to whomever would listen to me. When I'd exhausted my family with my endless babbling, I'd go out and tell my tales to the neighborhood kids -passing the stories off as truth. I'd tell of going into the meadows at night and wrestling with a mountain lion or the time I found a boa constrictor in my mom's garden and had to grapple for my life, winding the snake from around my neck just in the knick of time. Telling stories is just something I've always done. I used to write plays and scripts for my Barbie dolls and make people watch the performances. My love of creating stories continued into school when I'd have to write a paragraph or short essay about what I did during Christmas vacation or summer break. I never thought my own life was exciting enough, so I was forever inventing stories.
People along the way, including some teachers, would tell me that I should pursue writing as a career but, at the time, it wasn't a possibility. We didn't have a lot of money growing up and majoring in something like English wasn't really an option. It was more like a luxury. I ended up going to business school, following in my older brothers' footsteps. It wasn't until after I got my B.S. in marketing that I pursued my graduate degree in creative writing. I'm thankful for my marketing degree now, however, because it really helps me with my books.
After getting my MFA in creative writing, I started trying to sell my first novel (Blue is for Nightmares, Llewellyn Publications, fall 2003). 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 has sold well over 100,000 copies, was named a Reluctant Reader Quick Pick, and was nominated for YALSA's Top Ten Teen pick list. And that same editor has since expressed interest in my future work. When I speak to young people and aspiring writers, I always tell them this story, that if I had stopped persevering, like many of my former classmates, after I received my first - or my 40th rejection letter - I may never have been able to enjoy the success of my series. Perseverance is key - and so is believing in yourself and being open to learning and getting better in your craft.
Wonderful, Laurie! Readers and writers often like to get a behind the scenes peek of an author's writing routine. It would be great if you could please share your typical writing day schedule.
Since I have a toddler, I don't really have a typical writing day. I write when I can - when he's in pre-school or napping or sleeping. I'm pretty good about being able to work on demand. When I'm working in the morning, I love a good cup of coffee (black) and I need to shut off my e-mail to resist the urge to procrastinate.
Please tell us about your latest novel Bleed, (Hyperion Books for Children, Sept. 2006) and what we can expect from your characters.
I really wanted to explore how the decisions we make everyday - even the smaller ones - can affect others in ways we may never even consider. The decision whether or not to pick up the phone or let the machine get it; the decision of walking to someone's house versus taking the bus; or of taking a walk by a cemetery rather than at the beach - how the outcome of those decisions can have a domino effect, affecting other people's lives...even the lives of people we may not even know. The book takes place over the course of a single day. During that day, the lives of ten teenagers intersect in powerful and unexpected ways. Among them are Nicole, whose decision to betray her best friend will shock everyone, most of all herself; Kelly, who meets the convicted felon she's been writing to for years; and Maria, whose definition of a true friend is someone who will cut her. Derik discovers his usual good looks and charm won't help him get the girl he really wants, while Joy, a fifteen-year-old waitress, hoping for true intimacy, narrowly escapes a very dark fate.
Sounds like an intriguing read. I'll certainly pick it up. What's up next? Do you have another project in the works? If so, please tell us about it.
I have a companion book to Bleed coming out in the fall of 2007. It's a really scary novel called Project 17.
Thank you again, Laurie. I wish you the best with this latest release. Would you like to close with a writing tip?
I would recommend reading what it is you love. Ask yourself why you love it, why you feel it works. What technique does the writer use that works for you? What point-of-view? What do you like about the dialogue? The characters? Do the same for books that don't appeal to you. Become a better reader. By answering some of these questions, you'll become one. You’ll be able to identify what works for you as a reader. Then, apply those elements to your writing. Also, consider joining a writers group. I rely heavily on mine. They're there for inspiration as well as critiques. We support each other through every step of the process - from that first idea to the finished book. And lastly, of course, it goes without saying that before you send anything out, know the market. Know which editors are looking for your type of book, what their policy is on reading unsolicited manuscripts, if you'll need an agent, and which agents are accepting new clients in your genre. Also, be sure to ask your agent for a client list, check that they're a member of AAR (http://www.aar-online.org/mc/page.do), and never pay reading fees.
Laurie Faria Stolarz grew up in Salem, MA, attended Merrimack College, and received an MFA in Creative Writing from Emerson College in Boston. She is currently working on a companion novel to Bleed, also for young adults. Visit her website, www.lauriestolarz.com