Today we're excited to chat with the authors of Best. Night. Ever. Read on for more about the authors and their book, plus a giveaway.
Meet the Authors!
Ronni Arno Blaisdell is the author of Ruby Reinvented. She has written for several magazines, blogs, and websites. In a previous life she worked as a publicist in Hollywood, and eventually built a home in Maine. She is a keen SCBWI member and contributor to the KidLiterati.com blog.
Alison Cherry is the author of the YA novels Red, For Real and Look Both Ways, and the middle grade novels Willows vs. Wolverines and The Classy Crooks Club. She is a professional photographer and spent many years working as a lighting designer for theater, dance, and opera productions. This whole “writing books” thing is just a cover for the international crime ring she runs out of her Brooklyn apartment. (Shhh, don’t tell.) Visit her online at AlisonCherryBooks.com.
Stephanie Faris knew she wanted to be an author from a very young age. In fact, her mother often told her to stop reading so much and go outside and play with the other kids. After graduating from Middle Tennessee State University she somehow found herself working in information technology. But she never stopped writing. When she isn’t crafting fiction, Stephanie is indulging her gadget geek side by writing for online technology sites. Her work is regularly featured on the small business blogs for Intuit and Go Payment and she is a featured columnist for SmallBizTechnology.com. She lives in Nashville with her husband.
Jen Malone is a former Hollywood publicist who once spent a year traveling the world solo, met her husband on the highway (literally), and went into labor with her identical twins while on a rock star’s tour bus. These days she saves the drama for her books. Jen is also the author of the middle grade novels At Your Service and The Art of the Swap, coauthor of the You’re Invited series, and wrote the YA novels Map to the Stars and Wanderlost. You can visit her online at JenMaloneWrites.com.
Gail Nall lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with her family and more cats than necessary. She once drove a Zamboni, has camped in the snow in June, and almost got trampled in Paris. Gail is the author of the middle grade novel Breaking the Ice, the coauthor of You’re Invited and You’re Invited Too, and the author of the young adult novel Exit Stage Left. You can find her online at GailNall.com and on Twitter as @GaileCN.
Dee Romito lives in her hometown of Buffalo, New York, where she and her family are steadily checking items off their own bucket list of adventures. You’re likely to find her at the local ice cream shop, writing at a café, or curled up on the couch with her cats. And while she does her best to be a grown-up most of the time, giggling with her BFFs is still one of her all-time favorite things. To join the fun and create your own bucket list, visit TheBFFBucketList.com.
Lynnfield Middle School is prepped and ready for a dance to remember, including an awesome performance from Heart Grenade, the all-girl band who recently won a Battle of the Bands contest. Seven classmates—Carmen, Genevieve, Tess, Ryan, Ellie, Ashlyn, and Jade—intend to make the most of the night…or at least the five of them who are able to attend do. The other two would sacrifice almost anything to be there.
One thing’s for sure—this entire crew is in for one epic night! Gail Nall, Dee Romito, Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, and Jen Malone have created a charming, hilarious, and relatable novel that’s perfect for anyone who can’t wait to dance the night away.
Best. Night. Ever. is our novel about seven intersecting storylines that all take place in or around the same middle school dance (think Love, Actually format), told from seven perspectives and written by seven different authors, with each of us writing one character’s chapters. Phew! It’s a pretty unique project in that respect, and we’ve gotten lots of questions about how the heck we made this work. So, to keep it fun, we hopped into a Google Hangout to chat with each other about just that. Taking part are Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno, Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone, Gail Nall and Dee Romito.
Jen: Let’s talk about the process we used to write this book together. We were already a group of existing friends and critique partners who all published solo titles with the same imprint (Aladdin M!X) and who all write fun and funny contemporary middle grade, so partnering up felt very natural. We had the general concept of a story revolving around one night at a middle school dance, but things really began with a video call, not unlike this one, to bounce around plot ideas. Who wants to talk about how we picked which characters we’d each write?
Steph: Someone mentioned there should be a boy. I wrote romance novels way back in the beginning of my career, so I've written at least a dozen novels that included the adult male perspective. However, getting in the mind of an adolescent male is a completely different thing. I'm still not 100 percent sure how teenage boys think, but I definitely know how it feels to be a teenager who likes someone.
Ronni: I thought writing about a character who wouldn't normally be excited about a middle school dance—but this time was—would be interesting. Then we brainstormed the idea of her getting her heart broken in an unexpected way, and I couldn't wait to get inside Ellie's head.
Rachele: I wanted to write about a character who couldn't be at the dance. I remember there were times I couldn't do something my friends were doing and how awful that feeling of being left out was.
Dee: Once all the others started to come together, I remember saying, "I feel like there should be someone sinister who's there to cause trouble."
Jen: From there, we each went off figured out our character’s storyline. It just so happened Alison and I were on writing retreat together very shortly after and I remember a chilly afternoon on the back porch—
Alison: With an entire bag of M&Ms—
Jen: Essential plotting food! We had everyone’s beginnings, middles, and ends on separate notecards and we spent hours rearranging them and coming up with a timeline that would work so that each character was in the story somewhat equally and no one disappeared for too long. It was like a giant puzzle. Which leads to the next question...
Once we had the outline, we each went off to write our own chapters on a pretty tight rotating schedule. For most of us, that’s pretty different from how we write our own solo books. What were some of the good and/or bad things about writing this way?
Rachele: I love that we had a set schedule to follow. I can be a bit of procrastinator, so knowing that everyone was depending on me to get my work done was the motivation I needed to, well, get my work done!
Alison: I've always been really uncomfortable showing unpolished work to other people, and this process forced me to be less precious and perfectionistic about my own words.
Ronni: I loved that we not only worked on our own character's story arc, but also on each others’ character's story arc, because many of them intersected. That process forced me to look at the bigger picture, rather than focus on one chapter at a time (which is what I usually do when writing alone).
Gail: I loved having a built-in critique group!
Jen: For me, I really loved going to bed with one chapter written only to wake up and find four more chapters had been added. Oh how I wish my own books wrote themselves while I slept!
Speaking of own books . . . did anything about writing a story with six other people change your process for writing your solo books?
Gail: Not necessarily the process, but I've definitely been influenced by spending so much time with everyone else's writing. It's fun to see (and learn from!) everyone's strengths.
Stephanie: I've never been a planner, so working in a highly structured situation was very eye-opening to me. It showed me how much better a book flows when the writer has a chapter-by-chapter outline in hand from the start. I may try that with one of my books to see if I can force myself into "planner" mode!
We’re really excited to have Best. Night. Ever. out in the world and are taking away so many fun memories of the experience. We’re happy to answer other questions about the process (or anything else) below or help with any advice if you think co-writing might be for you! We’re also giving away a hardcover of the book, so please enter to win!
Best. Night. Ever.
By:Rachele Alpine, Ronni Arno,
Alison Cherry, Stephanie Faris, Jen Malone, Gail Nall, Dee Romito
Release Date: August 15, 2017