What is the order of your Blue is for Nightmares series? Can you read them out of order?
The series goes Blue, White, Silver, Red, and Black. While it is ideal to read them in that order, they can certainly be read out of order. At the beginning of each book (following Blue), I catch readers up to what happened in previous books.
How many books are planned for the TOUCH SERIES and what is the order of the books?
So far there are five books planned. It goes DEADLY LITTLE SECRET, DEADLY LITTLE LIES, DEADLY LITTLE GAMES, DEADLY LITTLE VOICES (coming November 2011), and DEADLY LITTLE LESSONS (fall 2012).
What inspired you to write BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES?
I first started the novel in an adolescent fiction writing workshop at Emerson. I knew I wanted to write a mystery/thriller. I loved suspense novels as a young adult and I really wanted to write something that would have appealed to me at that age, adding in elements of humor, romance, and drama. I wanted my main character to be relatable for teens; I wanted her to be flawed, to have secrets, and to have lots of opportunity for growth. When I started the novel, I had no idea I would delve into the world of magic and witchcraft - that is until I did a free-writing exercise in my workshop class. I wrote a scene in which Stacey, my main character, was meditating in front of a blue candle. Students in class suggested that since she had a candle, and since I'm originally from Salem, I make her a practicing witch. Not knowing too much about the formal practice of the Craft, I researched the more formal practices of Witchcraft and Wicca, as well as home remedies that pass down within families.
What advice would you give people who want to write for young adults?
I would suggest delving into the young adult market. Spend some serious time reading young adult books and magazines. Listen to teens talk. Watch movies and TV shows aimed at that audience. Be open to learning, to understanding, and reflecting on your own young adult experiences. Then, start to write. Ask yourself what moves you to want to write for teens, what story do you need or want to tell. I would also recommend joining The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) and/or finding a group of young adult/children’s writers with whom you can meet and share work. I rely so heavily on my writers group. 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, and never pay reading fees.
What’s the craziest or coolest thing you’ve done in the name of research?
I had to figure out how to break into an abandoned mental asylum, rumored to be haunted, in the middle of the night. I did this for my research on PROJECT 17. I connected with a group of urban explorers, and became so spooked by my research, I wasn’t able to sleep at night.
Whatever happened to PINK IS FOR PROMISE?
PINK IS FOR PROMISE was the work-in-progress title for the third book in the series. I ended up changing my mind about the title, but unfortunately this happened after the first printing of WHITE IS FOR MAGIC came out. I thought the title SILVER IS FOR SECRETS worked so much better for the work and, if you've read it, you can probably understand why. All the other print runs of WHITE IS FOR MAGIC (from the second print run on) have the correct “Silver” title printed in the front.
How many more books do you plan to write in the BIFN series?
Good question, but I'm really not sure yet. A companion series might be fun or a prequel that tells Maura's story. I’ll keep you posted via my newsletter.
Do you practice Wicca or Witchcraft?
No. Though I do love candles, aromatherapy, and practicing herbal remedies, I am not a practicing Wiccan or Witch. Having been raised in Salem, MA, and having done a lot of research on Witchcraft, I do have a lot of respect for this peaceful, earth-based religion.
Have you ever thought about your books becoming movies?
Why, yes, I think about it all the time. Currently, the BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series has been optioned for a TV series. When someone options the rights, it basically gives them a set period of time to try and piece things together before it goes on to the next stage, or before the rights get reverted back to the author.
I'm an actress and I'd love to play Stacey in the movie. Where and when can I audition?
If the BIFN series option goes to the next stage and they start auditioning actors for parts, I will do all I can to find out about the happenings regarding production, filming, and auditions.
I'm interested in learning more about Wicca and/or Witchcraft. Where can I learn?
I highly recommend Silver Ravenwolf's Teen Witch: Wicca for a New Generation. It's an excellent reference that goes over the ABC's of Wicca. She also clears up some of the misconceptions people have about the religion. There's also a chapter for parents, as well as one that discusses how to break it to your parents that you're interested in the Craft. I also recommend Gwinevere Rain's Confessions of a Teenage Witch.
Which of your characters in the BIFN series are you most like?
Well, I suppose I'm mostly like Stacey but not because I have premonitions about stalkers. I just identify with her character the most. We also think a lot alike. There are also bits of myself in Amber and Drea.
What inspired you to write the Touch series?
I wanted to write a story where the main character has to struggle with the idea of falling in love with someone who could potentially be dangerous. I tinkered with this concept in the first three books of my Blue is for Nightmares Series [(Blue is for Nightmares (Llewellyn 2003), White is for Magic (Llewellyn 2004), and Silver is for Secrets (Llewellyn 2005), as well as in Bleed (Hyperion 2006)]. In Bleed, in particular, there’s a young male character who was convicted for the murder of his girlfriend. His next relationship consists of pen pal letters he exchanges with a young girl while he’s in prison. Without giving too much away, the relationship is briefly pursued once he is released, but I wanted to bring this concept to another level. Additionally, I wanted to continue experimenting with the supernatural (which I also use in the BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series as well as in PROJECT 17), showing how 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 things 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. Lastly, I wanted to apply these concepts to be part of a series. I love the idea of growing a main character over the course of several books.
Are any of your characters based off people you know?
No, though sometimes I’ll steal a character quirk from people I’ve known. For example, in the BLUE IS FOR NIGHTMARES series Amber carries around a pair of chopsticks for whenever she’s eating out. I once knew someone who did that.
What did you do when you encountered the dreaded writer’s block?
I get away from the computer, grab a notebook and pen, and start taking notes on my book. I’ll write down what I know about the story, where I want things to go, what my character wants, what my character needs to learn to get what he wants, what the obstacles are, etc., etc. I also find it really helpful to talk through my block. I’ll talk to a friend about my story and where I’m stuck. I don’t even necessarily need them to say anything, but I find that just talking through the glitch usually helps.
Why did you decide to make BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS a graphic novel?
I wanted to try something different. I felt the series was finished at four books, but readers kept asking me for a fifth. When my editor approached me with the idea of writing a graphic novel, I was very intrigued, because it gave me the opportunity to not only try something new, but to really picture the book as a movie. I have a background in screenwriting and wrote BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS in screenplay format, adding in ideas for illustrations and sidebars. It was an absolute thrill to write, and to have the opportunity to work with an illustrator (Janina Gorrissen) for these characters and situations I’d created. BLACK IS FOR BEGINNINGS is a companion book to the 4-book series. It reveals secrets from Stacey’s past; gives Jacob’s perspective for the first time ever; and then picks up where Red is for Remembrance leaves off.
Will you ever come to Texas, Utah, Wisconsin, Florida, etc. to do a signing.
It’s possible. Tell your young adult librarian and/or your school that you're interested in having me come speak. Then, have them contact me.