* Book trailer by David Etkin *
Where did the idea of writing a book from seven different points of view come from? How did you feel when you were approached about being part of it?
Dee Romito: We all have books with Aladdin/S&S and our editors have always been amazed by the fact that a lot of us are friends. They expressed that they’d love to do something to celebrate that, which was perfect because we wanted to work together. But the simple answer is Jen. She’s the mastermind behind it all!
Rachele Alpine: Seven authors writing one book together sounded crazy to me, but I love a good challenge, so I was definitely thinking, "Bring it! Let's do this!"
How did everyone pick which characters they'd write?
Gail Nall: It started with one big video call to bounce around plot ideas. We all threw out character suggestions. One of mine was a girl who shows up to the dance only to find out that another girl thinks she has the same date. As we worked together to find ways to tie the main characters to each other, Tess became a member of Heart Grenade (and I honestly can't remember if that was my idea or someone else's!).
How did the plot come together?
Jen Malone: Once we had our characters picked, we each figured out the beginning, middle, and end for our character’s dance experience. It just so happened Alison and I were on another writing retreat and I remember a chilly afternoon on the back porch—
Alison Cherry: With an entire bag of M&Ms—
Jen Malone: Essential plotting food! We had everyone’s beginnings, middles, and ends on separate notecards and we spent hours rearranging them and coming up with a timeline that would work so that each character was in the story somewhat equally and no one disappeared for too long. It was like a giant puzzle.
Once there was an outline and a timeline for the events, how did you write the story?
Ronni Arno: We collaborated using Google Docs. We had a rotating schedule where we were either writing our own chapter or critiquing someone else's. I loved that we not only worked on our own character's story arc, but also on each other’s, because many of them intersected. That process forced me to look at the bigger picture, rather than focus on one chapter at a time (which is what I usually do when writing alone).
How did having seven authors impact you when you were working on your own parts of the story?
Dee Romito: Whatever we changed in our own chapters could potentially affect others, so we had to be careful. One of my favorite things was hopping on the phone or having a big email conversation to chat with Ronni, Jen, and Gail so we could figure out how certain plot points with our four connected characters would play out. Our characters were in other chapters besides our own, so communication among the authors was definitely important to keep the character traits and voice consistent.
What were the challenges and benefits of a collaborative project like this?
Alison Cherry: I've always been really uncomfortable showing unpolished work to other people, and this process forced me to be less precious and perfectionistic about my own words. There just wasn't time to revise a chapter five times before posting it! After a while, it started to feel normal to let people see my work in really early stages, which I think will serve me well in the future!
Stephanie Faris: I've never been a planner, so working in a highly structured situation was very eye-opening to me. It showed me how much better a book flows when the writer has a chapter-by-chapter outline in hand from the start. I may try that with one of my books to see if I can force myself into "planner" mode!
Last question. Did it bring up memories of your own middle school dances?
Rachele Alpine: Yes! The outfit I wore to my first middle school dance! I really don't know what I was thinking! I had on black combat boots, black tights, jean shorts, a flannel shirt that I tucked in and a hat! I really hope no one has pictures from that dance! I think the fashion police would have arrested me on the spot!
Look for Best. Night. Ever. on August 15, 2017 | Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
Lynnfield Middle School is prepped and ready for a dance to remember, including an awesome performance from Heart Grenade, the all-girl band who recently won a Battle of the Bands contest. Seven classmates—Carmen, Genevieve, Tess, Ryan, Ellie, Ashlyn, and Jade—intend to make the most of the night…or at least the five of them who are able to attend do. The other two would sacrifice almost anything to be there.
One thing’s for sure—this entire crew is in for one night! Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone, Gail Nall, and Dee Romito have created a charming, hilarious, and relatable novel that’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait to dance the night away.
Jen Malone http://www.jenmalonewrites.com/