To Night Owl From Dogfish will reveal the unlikely friendship between Avery Bloom, a bookish and intense New Yorker, and Bett Devlin, a fearless and fun-loving Californian. These twelve-year-old girls meet after their single fathers fall in love with each other after a chance encounter. In an attempt to make them forge a new friendship, and hopefully, a sisterhood, the two girls are sent to bond at a sleep-away camp while their fathers go on a romantic getaway.
In a recent interview with Entertainment Weekly, Meg Wolitzer and Holly Goldberg Sloan dished on their unconventional writing method for this book. Both authors wanted to work together on a book but were unsure how to go about it until Sloan’s husband suggested they “just start by emailing each other”.
Instead of just brain-storming via email, the award-winning co-authors took this literally and started writing letters to each other in the voice of their characters. Sloan kicked off the novel writing process by emailing Wolitzer a draft for the beginning of the book. “And so our book became a novel in emails,” Wolitzer said.
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Both authors wanted to tell the story of really unique characters who are stuck in an offbeat situation, as Wolitzer says, “A dating parent can be a nightmare for a kid.”
These characters hit close to home as the authors expressed how similar they were to the main characters after writing these letters in their own voices. But throughout this unique writing process, they knew that they wanted to explore the opposite character as much as possible. “So we did initially write our emails to each other as those characters. But one of our great “rules” was that during our many, many revisions, we decided we could ruthlessly go over each other’s material,” Wolitzer says. “Which means that I feel as if I have Bett’s character inside of me just as much as Avery’s.”
Their own authentic friendship seeped through the writing and contributed to the characters’ chemistry. As Sloan says, “To Night Owl From Dogdish [sic] is about friendship. Meg, you and I are great friends. We make each other laugh. Is there anything more you need in a true friend?”
This is also the perfect writing method for a book like this. It seems very exciting to tell a tale with your close friend over email. Wolitzer expressed her excitement with working on this novel with Sloan, a very good friend of hers, and shared that it was a brand new experience for her as a novelist. “It was cool if nerve-wracking to wait by the laptop or phone to find out what would happen next in our book,” she says. And it’ll be very cool for us to find out what happens, too, when we finally get a chance to read it in 2019!
The novel is an exciting new take for the YA genre as these authors explore what it means to be queer as well as the emotional impact that familial and platonic ties can have on a person. What happens to a kid when their parent starts dating someone else? What is someone supposed to do when all of a sudden you have a new sister?
This will not be their first step into the childrens’ book scene, but it is the most recent outcome after the authors’ long line of best-selling novels. Meg Wolitzer’s recent release The Wife has also been made into a feature film starring Glenn Close. Click here to watch our recent interview with the best-selling author!
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