So. I interviewed Francine Pascal. And she was kind enough to answer questions from an asshole like me. I had visions of throwing up a screenshot of my phone (Incoming call from: FRANCINE, BITCHES!), but alas, she was in France (of course!) and we had to do it over email. I am, all joking aside, very appreciative of her willingness to answer my dumb questions.
On why the Wakefields are still going strong:
Sweet Valley High was a fantasy high school no one really went to. Not even me. And the characters were people we longed to be and never were. And on top of that I created irresistible twins; the good and bad of one person. Isn’t that enough to excite the dreams of teenagers? And those dreams of adolescence never leave us because they end up becoming our own. Some people remember the stories of SVH better than they do those years of their own lives.
On whether SV’s new gritty reality is a reaction to the idealism of the original series:
Since I was writing for adults now, I aimed for more reality. And reality can be a lot harder than the ideal world of a fantasy high school. I was hoping fans loved the characters enough to allow them to grow up.
On the surprises we can expect in The Sweet Life:
The Sweet Life is nothing but surprises, but still recognizable Sweet Valley. I have built in as many cliff hangers and hook endings as I could to keep you guessing. I challenge you to know where it’s going from book to book and how it ends.
On whether fan disappointment re: NOT ENOUGH LILA in SV Confidential led to MOAR LILA in The Sweet Life:
Not really. I didn’t want to waste Lila on just any old story, I just wanted to find the perfect one and I think I have. I’d love to know if you think I was right.
On being in on the joke:
I think there’s a lot about the original SVH series we can laugh at now. But it’s a gentle laugh at people and stories we loved.
On a-hole bloggers like me who (lovingly!) poke fun of her creation:
I’m with them. I knew some of those stories and characters were over the top when I wrote them. And by the way, every story and every character was written by me. I love that people cared enough to still remember them and can poke fun.
On what it means to have created iconic characters:
I didn’t know I was creating an iconic world when I did it and I didn’t take it very seriously. I was having fun thinking up all those crazy stories and any character I wanted. But the best part was giving these people a big dose of my own idealism. I loved writing about qualities like love, honor, friendship, courage and taking them all seriously. I hoped some of that would rub off on my readers. And I loved the fact that some many of my fans were never readers until they found my characters and stories.