On The Inspiration For My Teen Novels, by Laurie Faria Stolarz
People often ask me what inspires me to write. The answer is that inspiration comes from all over, especially if you’re open to it: stories you hear about, snippets from the news, a really dishy reality TV show, an argument that you overheard at the local coffee shop, fortune cookie messages, dilemmas without answers, a person you encounter at the supermarket, a situation that occurred at the gym…
The point is that ideas are everywhere. Pick one that gets your creative juices flowing. Don’t write about a topic because you think it’s popular or timely. The market is ever-changing: blood-thirsty vampires today, vegan-loving serial killers tomorrow. Plus when you consider that once your book gets accepted for publication it’s often a year or more before it comes out, who knows what the market will dictate then.
Here’s how inspiration struck for some of my teen novels:
Blue is for Nightmares
The inspiration: My readers
I was inspired to write my first novel, Blue is for Nightmares, because I wanted to write a book that would have appealed to me as a young person, namely one that had a blending of suspense, romance, drama, and dark humor. I wasn’t a big reader as a young person, and so I wanted to get reluctant readers excited about reading. Blue is for Nightmares was the product.
The inspiration: A theme that interested me.
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; and how the outcome of those decisions can have a domino effect, affecting other people’s lives… including the lives of people we may not even know.
The book starts out with one girl (Nicole) grappling with the decision of whether or not to betray her best friend (Kelly) by going after her best friend’s boyfriend (Sean) while the best friend is away. We see how the effect of that decision plays out, affecting all the other characters in the book.
The inspiration: A news article.
I sold Bleed in a two-book deal with Disney/Hyperion Books for Children. Time was ticking and I needed an idea for the second book – fast. One day when I was flipping through a local newspaper, I came upon an article concerning the controversial teardown of one the nation’s first mental institutions, which was considered to be a historic landmark – one that was also rumored to be haunted. I imagined a group of teens breaking in to the hospital on the eve of the demolition to film a movie. The idea inspired me to write my novel Project 17.
The Touch series
The Inspiration: Past success and my love for series books.
Following the success of my Blue 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. Like in my Nightmares series, I wanted to explore 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 to sense the past or future through touching objects. The concept fascinated me, so I wanted to bring it out in a character and show 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 ends up completely reclusive as a result, getting home-schooled by tutors and not leaving his house. Flash forward two years and Ben wants a shot at normal life again, despite his powers. He enrols at a school a few hours from his hometown, where no one knows him or his past. Then everything goes awry when he accidentally touches Camelia, the main character, and senses that her life is in danger.
My current work-in-progress
The inspiration: A nightmare I had.
I rarely have nightmares but I had one that felt so real and scared me to bits. I didn’t talk about it for several days afterward. When I finally felt able to share it, I told someone who immediately said that it needed to be a book. I agreed and sold it to my editor last year. I’m currently working on the draft.
Laurie Faria Stolarz’s author website: www.lauriestolarz.com
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Writing Teen Novels