Tuesday, October 13, 2009

In Print Again

Well. It's a little embarrassing to admit, but years ago, my daughter and I co-wrote a book about 'N Sync. I just found out it's available, through a Barnes & Noble exclusive, as a bargain book. This has really brought back memories!

It started with the Backstreet Boys, oddly enough. My daughter and her best friend were completely addicted to that band. They were budding writers, too, and they introduced me to the world of fan fiction. The two of them wrote several fan fiction short stories, and I thought it would be fun to write a full-length fan fiction with my daughter and her friend in the starring roles. Now that I think of it, that was my first attempt at fiction.

I had the book printed and bound and, on my daughter's 16th birthday, left copies for her and her friends on her bedside table. They, of course, loved it. I didn't think it sucked too bad, so I jokingly sent a copy to my garden book editor. She called me the morning it arrived: "You won't believe this," she said. "I just came out of a meeting where we were asked if any of our writers could do a teen voice. How'd you like to write a book about 'N Sync?" (They'd already published a Backstreet Boys book.)

I'm freelance, so of course my answer was a resounding "yes." I asked if my daughter could write it with me, though, since she was the boy band expert. (Although I knew waaaay more than most people my age should have known, and I'd seen both bands in concert by then.) My editor thought that was a great idea.

This is what happened. 'N Sync was at the peak of their popularity then, to the point that even major newspapers and magazine had to do interviews by conference call. I learned all the tricks of how to write a book about a famous band without an actual exclusive interview, and it was harder than you'd think. But my daughter and I wanted it to be different from all the other books.

Even back then, my daughter and I were on the computer a lot. She hooked into some online fan clubs for 'N Sync, and posted an invitation for kids to email us. We came up with a list of questions and invited fans to respond with their own stories. It was the first book to include the fans, and the kids loved it.

We recruited a group of kids from my daughter's high school, a mix of 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys fans. (Most of them liked both bands, even if they had a favorite.) We had pizza parties as we pored over teen magazines, and the kids came up with suggestions for things to include in the book. I picked their brains for little known facts, and took copious notes. More kids got involved (just look at the dedication/acknowledgement page!), and a few of the moms joined in, too.

My daughter wrote the captions and acted as advisor and fan contact as well as co-author, while I did the bulk of the writing. I'd say we pretty much split the research. When the book was published, we were on local TV with a bunch of the kids who worked on it. (Johnny Bench was on with us that morning; the girls had no clue who he was.)

We donated copies to the high school and middle school libraries, as well as our local branch. My daughter autographed her first books. We had a blast.

The book is out of date now, but it might bring back some memories for you, too. Thanks, Barnes & Noble, for this blast from the past. You just made my day.