'Sweet Valley High' creator Francine Pascal on the sequel, the movie, and (perhaps) another book
Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later — the Wakefield-twins-grow-up sequel to the massively successful ’80s teen book series — is making 30-something women across the country squeal with nostalgia and, as a result, climbing the bestseller lists. (It debuted on the New York Times Hardcover Bestseller List at No. 14.) We sat down with creator/author Francine Pascal (she came up with the idea for the series and plotted out the stories for each of the 152 books, but she didn’t actually write a full Sweet Valley book until this one!) to talk about the surprisingly long shelf life of the impossibly perfect twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield. Coming soon: a movie version, another possible sequel, and — SVH scoop alert! — lavaliers just like the Wakefield twins wear, complete with engraved Es and Js. (Available soon through the book’s site.)
What has the reaction from fans been like?
They are very excited about it. I think it’s kind-of the Facebook phenomenon in a sense: You want to find out what those people you went to high school with are up to. That’s exactly what this is, because you went to high school with these people. Though I hope it’s more interesting than most people you want to high school with, of course!
The response seems so visceral and intense.
I am surprised by that. There are those millions of girls who grew up with this, but it’s gone viral. I love Sweet Valley, but I love it from a different angle. There are people for whom it is their adolescence. They own it, in a way that even I don’t. I’ve come to respect the project more because of the response than I’ve had. It’s more important than I realized it was. I didn’t understand the breadth and depth of it. now I’m beginning to more.
What’s the status of the movie version of Sweet Valley High that screenwriter Diablo Cody is working on?
There is a script, but I haven’t read it yet. It’s a first draft and she was a little hesitant, but she has to show it to me. They’re 16 in it, and I said, ‘Please keep it in the ’80s,’ which she’s doing. It would be wrong any other way. It belongs in the ’80s. the whole sentiment is in the ’80s. The whole idea of updating it, like we did with the size 4 a few years ago [Random House released a new version of the books in 2008 in which the twins dropped two sizes from their original “perfect size 6”] … a mistake. We don’t do that anymore. We don’t talk about it.
And you’re considering another grown-up book sequel now?
Now that it’s so well-received, I’m kind of in a corner. If I do it, I think it would be five years later [putting the twins at 32 years old] because I don’t want it to be a series. I think this was great fun, but I’m still not sure. Though I couldn’t help myself from thinking of an opening chapter already.
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Sweet Valley High