Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Evvie At Sixteen

For better or worse, I am a very prolific writer, which is how I came to write over 70 books in my long, semi-illustrious (well, nearly semi) career. And the way you get to be prolific is by being able to come up with ideas easily.

I used to take great pride in my ability to come up with ideas. I felt (although I don't remember ever putting this theory to the test) that if someone challenged me to come up with an idea, I could on the spot.

One afternoon, I decided to challenge myself. I have a vague memory of cleaning my front porch (which I did maybe once a year), and saying, "Okay, Pfeffer, come up with an idea. I challenge you." Or something like that.

But I couldn't come up with an idea. No matter how I dusted and swept, no idea came to mind. I was almost concerned about the lack of ideas. Self-confidence was rapidly waning.

The next morning I woke up, still idealess. But sometime during the course of the day, I came up not with one idea, but five.

I love family saga novels, which makes sense because I love families. And I thought, why not write a family saga novel for teenagers?

The immediate problem was that family saga novels tend to be very long, and this was in the pre-Harry Potter days, when a YA novel was supposed to be 200 pages or less. Now that I think about it, writing such short books no doubt helped my prolificness along.

So I decided to divide my family saga novel into five books, four about sisters, when each one was sixteen, and the final one about their mother, when she was sixteen.

I had an enormous amount of fun creating the family. The girls were the Sebastian sisters, Evvie, Thea, Claire and Sybil, each very different from the other. Their parents, Nicky and Megs adored each other. Nicky was the kind of guy who made and lost fortunes. Megs came from old money, but sadly, no longer had any.

I loved the idea. My editor loved the idea. I loved the books. My editor loved the books. I remember her calling me after seeing the Woody Allen movie, Hannah And Her Sisters, to say the Sebastian sisters were better sisters than Hannah and hers.

Even the reviewers loved the books. My favorite review maybe of all time was the School Library Journal review of Sybil At Sixteen:

The Sebastians continue to be some of the most complicated, intriguing people in contemporary YA literature; their saga demands that readers confront the true essence of family.

Evvie At Sixteen is now available at Kindle and at Nook. It's the second of my books that I've put up there.

My hope is enough people will be interested in Evvie that I can put her sisters and mother there as well!


Marci said...

Not sure my first comment went through. Anyway, I hope so too!

Jenny Rae Rappaport said...

I have just had the revelation that you wrote these books!

I read them all the time when I was a kid, about ten or so, and then haven't touched them since my mid-teens. Fast-forward to 2006, when Kathy Dawson gave me a copy of LIFE AS WE KNEW IT, when I worked in publishing, and I was hooked on your books. But I totally didn't even remember you wrote the AT SIXTEEN books, until you just blogged about. Wow. =)

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello to Marci (who I saw this morning) and to Jenny Rae Rappaport-

I have a feeling a lot of people don't know that I wrote this book or that book, just because I wrote so many.

I also rejected the idea of writing one sort of book (middle group or YA, for example), since I knew that would bore me. So I had a good career, but I was never a brand name!

Tara said...

I just bought a copy for my Nook! The Dead and the Gone was perhaps one of my favorite books ever, with Life as We Knew It up there as well. Very excited to read more or of your books!

Wendy said...

You mentioned a couple posts ago that most people found their way here from LAWKI and then learned about your other books. I found my way here because I grew up with the Sebastian Sisters and Marly and Peter and Leigh and Lynn and David and all those Hard Time High kids. Then I learned about LAWKI. So, I've said it before and I'm sure I'll say it again: Thank You!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Hello and thank you Tara and Wendy-

I love writing series. It's so much fun for me to see the characters in a variety of situations over an extended period of time.

It's even more fun to hear from people who like my books!

Morgaine said...

I downloaded it and read it in one sitting (well one bath after a stressful day at work)! I hope you make the other books in this series available on the kindle, as I want to know more about what happens to Evvie and her family! Thank you! I really enjoy reading your earlier books!

PS: I bought Blood Wounds for the Kindle and read it on my android phone before getting an actual kindle for my birthday from my husband, so you are in a way responsible for my having (and really really enjoying) an e-reader. I couldn't wait to run out and get the book when it came out, so I found a way around it, and now I am very very addicted to e-readers and can't believe I ever thought I wouldn't like them! I will buy any book you make available in this medium!!

Susan Beth Pfeffer said...

Happy Sunday morning Morgaine-

I'm fascinated with how e-books are going to change the publishing industry. I see many good possibilities and many bad possibilities.

But one thing I do like is they make it possible to get books that would otherwise be unavailable.

So far though, the rest of the Sebastian sisters will stay that way. I need a few more Evvie At Sixteen sales to convince me there's a market for the rest of her family!