From the hallowed halls of academia, to the walls of a teenage girl's bedroom?
Francine Pascal's Sweet Valley High series occupies a nostalgic vein for girls who grew up in the early 1980s. How could it not? It's a souffle of teenage drama that followed the Wakefield sisters (earnest Elizabeth and bad girl Jessica) as they came of age. The series grappled with boys and high school, and was fun and quick to read.
Oddly enough, the series was not written by Pascal, but was actually written by Amy Boesky. Boesky was a graduate student at Oxford when the opportunity presented itself. In a frank, new essay Boesky opens up about what it was like to be a ghostwriter. One may be lead to believe that because of her background in academia she looked down upon the fluffy serial, but this is not so:
"Sweet Valley High offered the lure of another world. I liked having a space so refreshingly different from scholarship — so resolutely light. On bad days, when my advisor hated what I'd written and I was dispirited and sick of academic posturing, I liked pulling my desk chair up and conjuring a diaphanous world where nobody cared about Donne or Milton. Never heard of them! Do they go to private school? Ghostwriting these books became an escape hatch for me, a place I could shoot down to from my customary cloud cover. It was the sky jump and the parachute and the soft-focus destination, all in one. Why would I ever give that up?"
The entire essay is available to read here: http://www.kenyonreview.org/kr-online-issue/2013-winter/selections/amy-boesky-656342/
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