Hi all! I’m so excited because in only FOUR WEEKS, Better Off Friends will be out in the world! To celebrate the release, I’ll be doing a blog each week leading up to the release giving some insights to the book. This week: the inspiration!
Before I do that, a few things: I’m going to be in Wisconsin and Illinois publication week (with more events to be announced soon, I can say at this point that I’ll be in Houston for TeenBookCon on Saturday, April 26th!). For details on my schedule, head over to my EVENTS page. If you can’t make it to any of my events, and want a signed book, you can pre-order it here, please be sure you put in the comments section that you want it signed and to what name you wane me to put in it (like Sara or Sarah).
Now that’s out of the way, exciting news: I got to finally hold a finished copy in my hands last week, thanks to my editor, David Levithan!
It was actually a conversation with David that led me to write Better Off Friends. One day, we were taking the bus home (we live near each other), when David mentioned that Erin Black, his colleague over at Scholastic, was talking about how she wanted a YA When Harry Met Sally… which is an awesome movie about a guy and a girl who become best friends, but as Harry said in the beginning of the movie, “…men and woman can’t be friends because the sex part always gets in the way.” I loved When Harry Met Sally… so I told him to let me think about it.
Over the course of a year (while I was working on Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality), I thought about it. A book about a guy and girl best friend who may or may not become something more isn’t new ground. So I wanted to tell the story in a different way. One of my favorite parts of the movie are these interstitials where older couples banter about how they met. In these few seconds you really get a sense of their relationship. I wanted to have that in my book between each chapter (that would alternate between the guy and the girl). All I knew was that it would just be banter and the only way you’d know who was talking was the typeface. I thought there was no way I was going to get away with it. People might find it confusing.
I also really wanted to show the growth of the characters and their friendship, so I wanted the book to take place over a few years. Originally, Take a Bow was going to be four years of high school and I was told that I needed to make it only one year (with flashbacks, and for that story it was the right call). So I thought I wouldn’t get away with doing Better Off Friends over five years.
Then I began working on the characters of Macallan and Levi. How did they become friends? What are they both like? I came up with certain scenes and scenarios and began outlining the story with index cards. I didn’t breath a word about the interstitials or timeframe to my editor, and let the proposal (which is a rough outline and sample chapters) speak for itself. The interstitials ended up being everybody’s favorite part! Hooray!
Once I got the green light, I began writing Better Off Friends over two years ago. Since I spent nearly a year building the characters in my head, it was a really fun book to write as I knew so much about them. Although there were some tears as well.
I’m really proud of this book. I hope you like reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Only four weeks left to go!