August 12th, 2008

The Hit Factory

I’m always fascinated by stories of Alloy Entertainment, which has given us Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants and The Clique – as well as How Opal Mehta Got Kissed, Got Wild and Got a Life (which they would probably prefer to forget about) (and in case you’ve forgotten about it, click here. )

An LA Times story about Alloy’s involvement with TV and movies says, “The company, New York-based Alloy Entertainment, is a book factory similar to the syndicates that created the Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys series decades ago. Editors cook up ideas they think will appeal to teens and then hire writers to follow their outlines, similar to the way dramas and sitcoms are written for TV. Alloy produces about 30 books a year; six of them last week were on the New York Times bestseller list.”

Read more here.



site stats

Add This Blog to the JacketFlap Blog Reader

A Modern Day Witch Hunt

What happens when a hazing prank goes terribly wrong and a teenage girl goes missing? The debut suspense novel, SISTERS OF MISERY, brings us inside a seaside town near Salem, Massachusetts where Maddie Crane investigates her eccentric cousin’s disappearance. In the process, she ignites the wrath of the Sisters of Misery – a a powerful high school clique, whose activities mirror the witch hunts of the seventeenth century.

Stories hidden for decades come to light after Cordelia’s tragic disappearance. Cordelia’s mother, Rebecca, descends into madness. Maddie’s family members struggle with the consequences of the supernatural “gifts" they possess. And Maddie Crane must choose between the allure of the Sisters of Misery and loyalty to her family.

I asked, Megan answered

A: What's the scariest thing that's ever happened to you?
M: When I was in college, we played with a Ouija board and tried to scare each other. Then later that night I woke up with an incredible weight on my chest, the blankets went up over my head and I heard heavy breathing in my ear. I thought it was one of the boys in our dorm being a jerk, but once I got the covers away from my face, I realized that the only person there was my roommate fast asleep on the other side of the room. The next day, I told my roommate what happened and she mentioned that she had stuck the Ouija board under my bed. I threw it away and have never brought one into my house since.

A: Mystery writers often give their characters an unreasoning fear - and then make them face it. Do you have any phobias, like fear of spiders or enclosed spaces?

I have a freakish fear of aliens, though I’m not sure why. I think it has to do with seeing Close Encounters of the Third Kind when I was younger. I still can’t look out a window at night because I’m afraid of seeing one of those bug-eyed creatures looking back at me.

A: Do you have a favorite mystery book, author, or movie?
M: I’m a big fan of gothic short stories, especially those written by Edgar Allan Poe, Shirley Jackson, and William Faulkner. They have definitely influenced my writing.

A: At its heart, every story is a mystery. It asks why someone acts the way they did - or maybe what will happen next. What question does your book ask?
M: SISTERS OF MISERY asks if people have changed at all from the times of the Salem Witch trials. I think my book shows that people really haven’t changed all that much - that persecution and ostracism are still alive and well in today’s society.

A: Is there a mystery in life that you are still trying to figure out?
M: Too many mysteries, not enough answers. That’s probably why I enjoy reading and writing. It’s nice when a mystery can be solved within the span of 200 or so pages.



site stats

Add This Blog to the JacketFlap Blog Reader

Which came first: the idea or the focus group?

The London Observer has a fascinating piece about how focus groups are driving much of the arts world, at least in England.

The article begins: “Last year, Tom Becker won the Waterstone's prize for children's fiction with his first novel, Darkside; last week he won another award, the Calderdale children's book prize. The talk among agents and publishers has been about his suspenseful prose, his great potential. But few people have been talking about a more salient fact: that the book's concept and story was generated not by Becker, but by focus groups.”

It continues: Hothouse uses a market research company to put story ideas to children, who are observed from behind a one-way mirror. Using dummy covers, short excerpts and blurbs to prompt conversation, researchers ask the children their opinions on which characters, plots and ideas they enjoy most. Each child is also visited at home by a researcher, who finds out what kind of books they already own and read. Drawing on this research, Hothouse commissions a team of writers accordingly.

Read more here.

My focus group is Teen and Teen’s BF. But even then I don’t run ideas past them – just words. I’m not sure what I think of using focus groups. Would it just give us more Gossip Girl books?



site stats

Add This Blog to the JacketFlap Blog Reader

In Which it is Revealed that the Universe has a Sense of Humor

In the books I'm co-writing with Lis Wiehl, one of the characters works in the Mark O Hatfield Federal Courthouse. I've been trying to figure out how to see inside it - get a tour, if possible. There are few photos online. I tried emailing an attorney I knew, but the email bounced back. I asked an FBI agent if he knew anyone who worked there, but it was buried with a bunch of other questions, and he missed that one.

So what do I get in the mail today? A jury summons to the Mark O Hatfield federal courthouse for district court Sept 2. Since I'll actually be in the building, it seems like I could connect with someone much more easily. And I'll have access to the public spaces.

What do you think the chances are I'll get picked for a jury? If someone said they wrote mysteries and thrillers, and you were a lawyer, would you want them on or off?



site stats

Add This Blog to the JacketFlap Blog Reader