writing romance

Teen Book Series of the 80s and 90s – a peek into my past

I don’t often talk about this, but 2 weeks out of college, armed with my brand new English degree, I began writing for 3 different Young Adult series. This was back in the late 80s, early 90s. When all was said and done I had a dozen print books under my belt for publishers such as Sports Illustrated for Kids (Warner), Tor, and Western Publishing (owners of Golden Books).

Here’s what I didn’t realize until today when, *hanging my head in shame*, I Googled my maiden name. I found a write up about 80s teen series featuring two I wrote for, Palm Beach Prep Girls and The Pink Parrot. See that HERE

More searching revealed there was an actual TV show connected to the third series, Girl Talk.

There was even a game, which I think I do remember, though I never owned it myself.

girltalk

How did I miss all this back then? Probably because I would write for a few hours in the morning, then head for work where I tended bar at a country club. My shifts during the busy season could sometimes stretch 15-hours long, and I often worked 7-days a week. So I guess I wasn’t watching much teen TV, or shopping for board games.

Now, 20+  years later, I discover there was almost a cult following for the Girl Talk series. There’s a Goodreads page for this series and people are still, in 2013, adding the books to their To Be Read list. It’s long out of print but used copies are still for sale.

Adult bloggers are reading this series of books published in 1989 through the early 90s for the 9 – 12 year old young adult market, and then reviewing them. This blog is from 2010 and it’s named after one of the locations from the book, Fitzie’s Soda Shoppe, though the URL is 13Readingat30, which gives us a clue at the bloggers age. Inexplicably, adults are reading this nearly 25 year old series.

Who knew? Keep in mind, these books aren’t New Adult, the genre the publishing industry just created this year to encompass books written for the younger market, but mature enough that adults read them just as often as kids. There’s no Twilight-esque love stories, Vampire/Human marriages, honeymoon sex and babies in these. I was told a kiss on the cheek was the extent of what I could write for romance, because in 1989, young girls were still seen as young girls. Remember this was before the days of Gossip Girl (the books and the TV show) where readers and viewers suspend reality and believe that High School students can get a cocktail at at swanky NY hotel on their way upstairs to their rented room to have an affair with an adult their parents’ age.

I’ve noticed blog posts and commenters talking about the author of Girl Talk, LE Blair, and how she is really another author who also wrote some other series. I hate to break it to them all, but as far as I know LE Blair didn’t exist at all. It was a fake name made up by the publisher to put on the covers, because of the 40 (?) or so books in the series, there were about half a dozen authors such as my self, working on a Write-For-Hire basis writing them. Our names got be be in tiny letters on the copyright page, and on the check (a flat fee payment, not royalty based).

Here’s how the process worked… I was handed the series bible along with a few of the books already out written by the other authors, and told to read both. Then I got a title and a single paragraph outlining the book I was assigned to write. From there I wrote about 120 pages. I turned it in and never saw it again until my author copies appeared. I did nearly faint when I decided to drive the manuscript in rather than mailing it so I could meet the editor in charge of the series. I went to the address in Manhattan, which I assumed would be an office located somewhere within the soaring building. When I pulled up to the curb and looked up, and saw the letters Western Publishing marking the skyscraper, I realized it was the publisher’s building–the whole damn thing.

That was long ago and I’m not writing this to encourage you to seek out these books. In fact, I’m asking you NOT to. I cringe when I reread things I’ve written in 2006 because my writing style has changed so much over the past 7 years. I can only imagine how much I’d hate reading something I’d written in 1989. It would be as bad as seeing those pictures of myself with my big 1980s hair and Pat Benetar outfits.

I just wanted to take a dusty trip through my bookshelves and down memory lane. Thanks for coming along.

From my dusty shelves
From my dusty shelves

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