The Sweet Valley High creator goes dark with her new adult novel, Little Crew of Butchers.

By Kristen Baldwin
May 26, 2020 at 11:49 AM EDT
Blackstone Publishing; Ben Asen Photography

Though she's known worldwide for her seminal, deliciously soapy YA series Sweet Valley High, author Francine Pascal has a dark side, which she indulges in her adult novels. (See: the psychological thriller Save Johanna! and her bittersweet, occasionally risqué novelized memoir La Villa.) In her latest novel, Little Crew of Butchers (out now), Pascal puts a fictional spin on a shocking real-life event she read about 40 years ago while traveling with her husband, John, in Australia.

Butchers follows a young, good-looking ne'er-do-well, Lucas, who flees to Long Island after running into trouble in Los Angeles. "He's a young man, he’s about 21 or so. He’s totally irresponsible, he doesn’t know where he’s going in his life, and he falls into some bad stuff," says Pascal of Lucas. "I remember that John, my husband, brought home an Australian paper, and there was a story about a man who was trapped in a rain sewer… He got trapped in a rain sewer and was held captive by a band of a little kids, and so that’s what I’ve done [in Little Crew of Butchers]. And that will take [Lucas] into manhood."

Given the coronavirus pandemic, Pascal is promoting Butchers from her home in New York City, where she's been riding out quarantine by binge-watching TV. "I just lay out on the couch and watch soap operas," she jokes. "The best one is A Place to Call Home [on Acorn TV]."

In honor of her Little Crew of Butchers publication day, we asked Pascal for a few more binge recommendations.

Jason Bell/2019 Starz Entertainment

Outlander (Starz)

Normally I don't like science fiction, especially time travel, though [my book] My Mother was Never a Kid has time travel, and I think the best I ever wrote. I have to make an exception with Outlander. It's wonderfully imaginative and very well-written, and beautifully acted and produced. There are five seasons and it never lets up. (Seasons 1-3 streaming on Netflix; all seasons streaming on the Starz app)

Liam Daniel/HBO

Chernobyl (HBO)

An outstanding miniseries that recounts the Chernobyl disaster, with brilliant performances and incredible cinematography. Chernobyl shows the horrors of the nuclear disaster and the political drama that occurred. It's gripping from start to finish. (Streaming on HBO and Hulu)


Upstart Crow (BBC Two)

The British series puts a comedic spin on the life of William Shakespeare.

It's a witty and funny show. Entertaining with hilarious running gags. This is a show I can watch again and again. (Streaming on Amazon Prime and Britbox)

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