Here at DoubleX,we have long been amazed at how young-adult novels make up one of the most popular and dynamic segments of the publishing industry. In fact, many of us have mused about writing a young adult novel ourselves. So we asked one of our Slate writers, Laura Moser, and her writing partner, Lauren Mechling, both YA pros, to let us in on the process. They are sharing with DoubleX their next book, My Darklyng, written in a new way designed specifically for an online audience.
In this one, readers get to know Natalie Pollock, a normal-enough 10th-grade girl who happens to be obsessed with a certain vampire series. From the moment Natalie tries out to be the next cover model for one of the Dark Shadows books, her fantasy turns into a nightmare replete with solicitous NYC models, dead squirrels, a psych ward, and little orange pills. We like the novel for its clever mystery plot, its ear for jumpy teen dialogue and its wit. Also, we like it because of its skeptical take on the vampire craze that never seems to end.
Part of the art of writing a YA novel is staying ahead of last year’s trends. Novelists in this genre have started to experiment with interactive models, and here, we take that one step further. Moser and Mechling, a culture editor at the Wall Street Journal, have set up a parallel online world for their main character. For Facebook obsessed teens and adults, you can visit Natalie’s page to see daily updates, including photos from Natalie’s adventures. Over time, mysterious pictures begin to appear on her Facebook page—’70s album covers, sheet music, photos of old Hollywood starlets—all clues to the shattering truth. Natalie, her friends, and the fictional best-selling vampire writer Fiona St. Claire also maintain active Twitteraccounts that we encourage readers to follow.
New chapters will be posted every Friday into August. Laura and Lauren will answer questions about the unfolding plot, as well as the art of writing a YA novel, in the comments. We will also run a Q&A with them and give readers warning so you can submit questions. Enjoy—and consider yourself warned: You’ll never look at a Twilight cover the same way again.