Now that Francine Pascal's young-adult series Sweet Valley High has spawned the recent Sweet Valley Confidential and the new e-book series The Sweet Life, perhaps it's time to explore how your Sweet Valley High gets made. I interviewed Ryan Nerz, 38, author of Eat This Book and the forthcoming MARIJUANAMERICA, and a former ghostwriter for the Sweet Valley High series (in 1998). He talks about how he — a straight man — got inside the heads of teen girls, how smoking pot helped the creative process, and how he wrote his bros into the lives of Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield.
How did you get into [ghostwriting for Sweet Valley High]?
I worked at a place called 17th Street Productions, which is now Alloy. Back then, they were Daniel Weiss Associates. Daniel Weiss was a person who was friends with Francine Pascal, who is the woman who does Sweet Valley High. Basically, what they did was they were a book packager. They did everything but the actual making of the book and putting it out and marketing it and all that. They basically had ready-made books done. Then he sold that and it became Alloy. My boss was Ann Brashares, who wrote the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. There's a whole bunch of people who came out of that group of people who all became very successful in that realm. Including Gossip Girl. That was Cecily von Ziegesar. She was an editor when I was there. It was a bunch of young people who came in, and we would sit around, drink coffee, eat bagels, and come up with ideas and concepts and laugh our faces off.