Having penned books like My Sister's Keeper
and Salem Falls
, bestselling novelist Jodi Picoult is known for delving into controversial issues and family drama. But when her teenage daughter Samantha approached her with an idea for a comedic story about young love, she immediately saw the potential.
Samantha Van Leer said she was daydreaming in her Grade 8 French class when a storyline popped into her head: what if characters in books had lives outside the story, and what would happen if a 15-year-old girl fell in love with a fictional prince who is able to communicate with her?
"I thought it was brilliant," Picoult told Newsday
. "Who hasn't had a crush on a fictional character? I can pinpoint mine to Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice
. Any teenager who has ever fought over being Team Edward or Team Jacob knows what that's like. I think it's a pretty universal dream for anyone who's a big reader that we might fall a little bit in love with the characters in the book and wish they might come to life. So when Sammy told me her idea I thought, 'This is really smart, and this could really go somewhere.' I thought it would be a blast to work with her on it."
The result is Between the Lines
, a young adult novel that is garnering enthusiastic reviews and is being described as a fairy-tale story with a twist.
The mother-daughter combo got to work during summer vacation, sitting side by side and typing out pages five hours a day, Van Leer said. By the following summer, they edited the manuscript together.
Both agreed it was a fun, collaborative experience, and Picoult quickly discovered her daughter had great writing instincts. But the project wasn't without its challenges.
"We did argue," Van Leer said. "I argued that I thought Prince Oliver should have blond hair instead of black hair. That was just the way I pictured him. My mom won that one."