Ghostwriter Interviews

Sweet Valley Ghostwriter Interviews

Even though Sweet Valley was created by Francine Pascal, the Sweet Valley Kids, Twins, High and University books were written by different authors, called ghostwriters.

Here at The Hidden Bookcase, we have exclusive interviews with some of these writers, about what it was like to write for Sweet Valley!

Select the name of a ghostwriter from below, to view their interview!

Robynn Clairday - Sweet Valley University ghostwriter

Linda Singleton - Sweet Valley Twins ghostwriter

- - - - - - - - -

Robynn Clairday

Interview with Sweet Valley ghostwriter Robynn Clairday!

Which Sweet Valley books did you write?
I wrote #24, His Secret Past, #27 Elizabeth and Todd Forever and #30 Beauty and the Beach.

Did you get to choose or have some input about the titles of the books?
Not the titles, but I got to give input about the story lines, develop and create characters.

I’m afraid its a necessity for me to ask you about the single, most aptly named book in Sweet Valley history – (hey, its my site, I’m allowed to be biased! ;) ) – Sweet Valley University #27 Elizabeth and Todd Forever – what was it like writing this book? Are you an Elizabeth and Todd fan?
It was a lot of fun. I like Elizabeth and Todd together, but I actually thought it was interesting to see how Elizabeth and Tom. Elizabeth and Todd went through the normal Freshman changes and angst, so it was pretty realistic that they broke up. I sort of thought Todd wanted to get back with her because he hadn't really adjusted to college as well and was going back to what felt secure. I wanted to see him mature more before he rekindled with Elizabeth.

Did you read Sweet Valley before you wrote for the series, or did you continue to read it afterwards?
Yes, yes, yes! I read many of them. My sister and I loved the series for years.

What is your all-time favourite Sweet Valley book? (Apart from the one you wrote ;) )
That's a tough one, though I remember when Elizabeth was really hurt on the motorcycle and everyone was deeply impacted. I also liked Jessica's many, many antics.

Did you have the freedom to introduce new one-shot characters?
Absolutely. I created lots of one-shot characters and I'm happy to say I got to develop Jess's love interest, Nick Fox. He was a blast create for the series.

Were you able to put your own “mark”, so to say, in the books that you wrote?
Yes, though in a subtle way. They wanted us to stay true to the characters and their histories, but I had fun embedding little keys that were relevant to my life. Nick drove a black Camaro in one of the books, which was based on my husband's Matt's car he had once.

Could you decide on which characters interacted with each other? (For example, if you had a thing for Elizabeth and Todd, or Jessica and Mike, could you write a scene with that couple in?)
Yes, they expected us create and flesh out the scenes the outlined.

Did you receive any kind of back-history of Sweet Valley and the characters? I can imagine a “Sweet Valley Bible” of types, did anything like that exist?
No,they wanted writers who were deeply attached to and deeply aware of the Sweet Valley stories. They wanted us to be long-term readers first.

Who is your favourite character from Sweet Valley?
Tough. I guess Elizabeth, thought I adored writing for Jess. She's not like me at all and she was a blast to write for. She kind of touched on my wild, careless side.

Who do you think Elizabeth should end up with?
Maybe Todd, once he really matured enough, but I really liked Tom too.

How did you feel about Sweet Valley Senior Year, and Sweet Valley Junior High?
I didn't read much of Junior High, but it was good. I liked Senior Year.

Have you heard anything about the new Sweet Valley Heights? Would you be excited about this series?
I have not, sad to say. I've been buried in my latest books by Random House.

Did you liase or meet with Francine Pascal? How much involvement did she have with the production of the books?
I didn't speak directly with Francine, but she created the outline for each book.

What other books have you written, apart from Sweet Valley?
My latest is Confessions of a Boyfriend Stealer, Random House, which was out in Fall 2005. I'm currently working on the sequel right now, which will probably be released in Fall or Winter of 2007.

I also wrote two humour Middle Readers for Scholastic years ago, Tell Me This Isn't Happening! and Expect the Unexpected. I wrote a short story for the horror paperback anthology, Tradition in Terrors, and my husband and I wrote a non-fiction book together, Postcards from World War II.

I also wrote a romance novella years ago for a press that is now out of business. The novella was Stolen Hearts. I have chapbook, Scent of a Woman by Anxiety Press as well. I have loads of short stories printed in small presses.

Do you have any interesting or fun stories about Sweet Valley, or your experiences writing for this series?
Well, I used to dream about the characters. They seemed like family to me, since I knew them so well.

From all at The Hidden Bookcase – thank you very much for your time! :)

Back to Top

- - - - - - - - -

Linda Singleton

Interview with Sweet Valley ghostwriter Linda Singleton!

Which Sweet Valley books did you write?
I wrote Sweet Valley Twin #59 BARNYARD BATTLE.

Did you get to choose or have some input about the titles of the books?
Nope. The editors were very particular about their vision for the series. One of these editors, by the way, was Ann Brashares of TRAVELING PANTS fame.

Did you read Sweet Valley before you wrote for the series, or did you continue to read it afterwards?
YES! I auditioned twice to be an author for this series and each time I read about ten books to study the style. The first time I was told I was close. So I tried again and my name was put in a file of authors. About a year later they asked me to write a book.

What is your all-time favourite Sweet Valley book? (Apart from the one you wrote ;) )
THE CHRISTMAS GHOST. (Sweet Valley Twins Super Chiller)

Did you have the freedom to introduce new one-shot characters?
Yes. Towards the end of the book when Elizabeth gets lost in the storm, I got to make up the family she stayed with by using names from my family. I wanted to use the name Melissa but in a previous book they had coincidentally created a brother and sister named Melissa and Andy -- the names of my own children. So we compromised on "Melinda" for the 12 year old having a birthday -- my name combined with my daughter's. I tried to weave a few more things in but much of it was cut in the final edit.

Were you able to put your own “mark”, so to say, in the books that you wrote?
A little. The family names I already mentioned and also when they go shopping for computer games on page 22 I based the games on favorite book titles: "Invisible Chimes," Vanishing Shadow" and "Phantom Friends" all part of the Judy Bolton by Margaret Sutton series from 1932-1967. I tried to put more personal references in but their practice for ghostwriters was to ask for 30 pages more than they need then cut a lot. There was an entire dream scene I wrote about Jessica imagining herself as royalty that got cut.

Could you decide on which characters interacted with each other? (For example, if you had a thing for Elizabeth and Todd, or Jessica and Mike, could you write a scene with that couple in?)
Not really. I had a very detailed outline of the book which I had to follow. The only area where I got to be creative was with are farm scenes with animals. Since I live in the county, writing the farm scenes was easy! At the time we had geese, pigs and horses. My daughter Melissa continues to raise pigs.

Did you receive any kind of back-history of Sweet Valley and the characters? I can imagine a “Sweet Valley Bible” of types, did anything like that exist?
Yes. Lots of pages of information which they called a "Bible." I was given the manuscript of the previous book so I knew what has just happened. And I kept everything. I store it all in boxes in my attic.

Who is your favourite character from Sweet Valley?
Jessica was probably more fun to write because she kept getting into trouble. But I prefer nice girl Elizabeth -- and I gave her a very fun ending in BARNYARD BATTLE.

Who do you think Elizabeth should end up with?
I don't really know. Sometimes it's more fun not really knowing how things would have turned out. Then someday they can bring back the series with Sweet Valley Double Wedding.

How did you feel about Sweet Valley Senior Year, and Sweet Valley Junior High?
While I have some of these books, I haven't read them. I preferred the TWINS books, especially some of the specials where something magical happens.

Have you heard anything about the new Sweet Valley Heights? Would you be excited about this series?
Once I was done writing the series I moved on to writing Sweet Dreams romances and didn't keep up with Sweet Valley happenings. But I did continue to collect the books and have many in my series collection.

Did you liase or meet with Francine Pascal? How much involvement did she have with the production of the books?
I had no contact with her. I assume she'd the one who wrote the original outline which I was given then asked to break into chapters. I read an article on her and learned the pseudonym Jamie Suzanne came from the combined names of her daughters. There was a picture and the three of them together looked beautiful. Actually my favorite Francine Pascal series is a 3-book series she wrote many years ago about a girl going back in time and becoming friends with her mother. The first title was HANGING OUT WITH CICI.

What other books have you written, apart from Sweet Valley?
* 5 Sweet Dreams romances
* 2 Pick Your Own Dream Date multiple ending books
* My Sister The Ghost series (4 books)
* Cheer Squad series (6 books)
* Regeneration series (5 books)
* Strange Encounters series (3 books)
* The Seer series (5th book due out Aug. 07)

Do you have any interesting or fun stories about Sweet Valley, or your experiences writing for this series?
Since I live in CA and the editors lived in New York I caught a few things that didn't work in the original outline. They had the girls running across a freeway in Los Angeles. Also they had a tornado and people going into storm shelters. Just not something you find in sunny California. So I suggested a sudden lightning storm which we do get. My own daughter, Melissa, rides horses so the horse scenes were very fun to write.

Still of every book I've ever written, this was the hardest process because I had three editors who made different notes all over the manuscript. Being a "ghost" was hard because I had to match my writing with other people's expectations. I'm very glad I did this but found that I wasn't suited to writing in other people's styles. So I started writing my own original series -- which I continue to do. And I love it!

Linda Singleton's Website - with lots of information on writing, and a "True Piggy Tale!"

From all at The Hidden Bookcase – thank you very much for your time! :)

Back to Top