Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, 16, worked side by side on the book, but Picoult "did more of the typing because I type faster."By Adam Bouska
Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer, 16, worked side by side on the book, but Picoult "did more of the typing because I type faster."Q: So it was the high school student, not her mom, author of 19 novels, who had the idea for the book?Van Leer: At the end of eighth grade (when she was 13), I was daydreaming in French class. And I got to thinking: What's it like for characters inside a book, and what happens to them when no one is reading the book? What if they had other lives? It was like watching a movie that had popped into my head. So I called my mom.Picoult: I was on a book tour in L.A., stuck in freeway traffic, and I told Sammy, "That's a really great idea." And she said, "Let's write it together." And I said: "All right, but that means we're writing it together. I'm not writing the book for you." Q: So who wrote what?Van Leer: We wrote it together, sitting side by side at the computer, talking back and forth. Sometimes we'd get the same idea at the same time. It was a little creepy.Picoult: I did more of the typing because I type faster, but it was an equal partnership, though I paid more attention to the commas and cleaning up the writing.Q: Why did it take three years?Picoult: Well, Sammy has a day job: She goes to high school. We did it during summers and school breaks. We started writing the summer after ninth grade. We edited it the summer after 10th grade. And now she's finishing 11th grade.Q: Did you disagree?Picoult: A few times. Some arguments she won. Some I won.Van Leer: I imagined Prince Oliver would have blonde hair, not black as in the book.Picoult: And I thought the fairy tale should be told tongue in check. Sammy wanted it to be dark and a bit creepy and scary. I thought we'd try it her way, then revise it. But she was right.Q: In your novel, Delilah, the obsessive reader, believes Prince Oliver, from the fairy tale, "understood me better than anyone in the world." She dreams about meeting him. Have you ever wanted to meet a fictional character?Picoult: Mr. Darcy (from Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice.) What woman isn't consumed by him — from the novel or the film versions with Colin Firth or Matthew Macfadyen? When I was a teen, he was the most crush-worthy man I had ever read about. Every time I'm on a book tour in England, I look for him.Van Leer: Peeta (the baker's son in Suzanne Collins' The Hunger Games), especially if he looks like Josh Hutcherson (who portrayed him in the movie).Q:Any interest from Hollywood in makingBetween the Linesas movie?Picoult: Yes. We're close to having it optioned.Q: And a sequel?Van Leer: We'd like to do one, but first I have to finish high school.Picoult: Sammy's next big writing project will be her essays for college applications.For more information about reprints & permissions, visit our FAQ's. To report corrections and clarifications, contact Standards Editor Brent Jones. For publication consideration in the newspaper, send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Include name, phone number, city and state for verification. To view our corrections, go to corrections.usatoday.com.