Jodi Picoult and her daughter's YA fairy tale with a twist


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."

between-the-lines.jpgThe 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."