I have been dying to tell you guys about this since I heard about it, but I wasn't sure if it was okay. Now I've got the clearance. irinaauthor and I were invited, along with other Sweet Valley bloggers, to St. Martin's Press by a lovely marketing person (Hi, Sarah!). They called it the Sweet Valley Summit. I was beyond thrilled.
Sadly, irinaauthor could not attend so I had the difficult duty of representing 1bruce1 at the event. And I hope I represented your interests. I, and the others, tried very hard to convince them they needed "Team Lila" and "Team Margo" t-shirts to give away to fans. I know you guys want them. Fingers crossed on that one!
I got to sit next to Marissa of Sweet Valley Diaries. She asked me to tell you all that she has registered @sweetvalley on Twitter, and will be updating it as more news about the new book breaks, so you should go follow her. And also read the blog because her recaps are good!
I was very excited to get to meet Dan Weiss, who was the packager of the original Sweet Valley books (go look at the copyright on any edition you have and you'll see his name). Francine Pascal could not be there, because she is in France, but Dan had plenty of information and the St. Martin's people said I could blog about what I heard.
1. Dan is editing Sweet Valley Confidential and Francine is writing it. (No ghostwriter this time!) It is set when the twins are 27 years old. Jessica and Elizabeth haven't been speaking (I'm assuming this is because of how things were in Elizabeth but I'm not sure). It focuses on how their lives have turned out after their idealic childhood (I'm assuming it was a letdown). Bruce, Lila, Enid, Steven, Ned and Alice and all our favorites appear. Dan wouldn't say if there is explicit sex (he seemed shocked at the idea) but he did say it's "R rated." The book will come out in hardcover on March 10, 2011. Start your countdown clock.
2. The nice St. Martin's people gave us all a copy of the first chapter of Sweet Valley Confidential. I'm sad to say that is, as the title states, confidential. So I can't share it with you guys. But! The marketing team wants to create a list of Sweet Valley superfans, and they think that they will be giving away the first chapter in exchange for people signing up to a listserv. They're hoping to do this in July, so keep an eye out for that too!
3. They created swag for us. There are "Team Elizabeth" and "Team Jessica" t-shirts (go on twitter, the pics have been put up) as well as compact mirrors with the first book cover on them. I'll have pics later because--big flourish--I managed to snag some extras. 1bruce1 will be having another giveaway contest soon! (Like the tote bag contest, but irinaauthor and I haven't decided what yet. Again, STAY TUNED!) Sadly, and this might dampen your enthusiasm, only "Team Elizabeth" shirts were left over. (I know, surprise, surprise.) So I have no "Team Jessica" shirts to give away. But see above where I tried to convince them to do "Team Lila" and "Team Margo"! That counts for something, right?
Dan Weiss was also a font of information about the production of the original Sweet Valley series. I asked him about our fan favorite, James Mattheuse, and he told us that the NYC people took B&W pictures of one girl and sent them to "Jimmy" and he did pastels of her to make the covers. I've also learned that they've been trying to get in touch with him to do the cover for Sweet Valley Confidential but he's unreachable. This is very sad. If anyone knows James Mattheuse, tell him to contact Dan!
He said, originally, they intended the series for a 14 year old demographic, but it got younger as the series progressed, and then eventually went even younger with SVT and SVK. Francine had written soap operas before coming to books. The series (which was initially supposed to be just six books) was supposed to be kind of like a teen "Dallas" or "Dynasty". Francine used her daughters as inspiration.
Dan also said that in the original draft of Double Love, Jessica got Todd! But they changed it very last minute (he mentioned all nighters before the book went to press). I can't imagine how the series would've turned out differently without the Liz/Todd OTP from the get-go!
He also said, and this surprised the heck out of me, that in addition to several now famous authors having worked as ghostwriters and editors on the books, (Ann Brashares and Cecily von Ziegesar edited), our own favorite ANN M. MARTIN ghostwrote the very first Sweet Valley Twins book, "Best Friends." I know a lot of you are into BSC too, so I thought that was a neat little factoid!
More information and pictures from the meeting to come!
ETA: Photos of the swag, taken by Marissa from Sweet Valley Diaries and Sarah from Smart Bitches Trashy Books. The Compact. The T-Shirts
ETA2: JJ, Dan's assistant (she calls him "Cap'n Sweet Valley" which makes me laugh), sent me this picture of "all the swag" together. There's also a photo of Dan with the Daniels twins. That's not included in our giveway, but still interesting! Here.