Over the course of the first 50 books (aka the last 11 freaking years) I've often written and spoken about the mystery identity of the ghostwriters of the Sweet Valley High series. We know that Francine Pascal really did create the characters and the plots for the books, but the writing itself, as with many gargantuan book series, was done by shadowy figures whom I've always pictured hunched over typewriters, pencils holding up their collapsing ponytails, feverishly trying to bring some sass and nuance to what is, on the surface, abject fluff. And often succeeding. Unsung heroes, if you will.
I thought about these women (I'm just assuming they were women). I've talked about them. I've written about them, or at least the idea of them. But I never really tried to find out who they were. Then, this morning, I stumbled upon this Refinery29 interview from a couple of years ago. In it, the author talks to Katherine Heiny, who ghost wrote for Sweet Valley (among other series) in the '90s. The title ("The Real Story Behind the Sweet Valley High Books") is a little misleading -- there aren't a ton of details about the ins and outs of the creation of the series as a whole. That said, even this much insight into how the Wakefield sausage was made is a little unsettling! But if you're ready to swallow the red pill* (go ahead and mix metaphors with me, won't you?) take a look for yourself!
*Confession: I googled "red pill matrix" after typing this to make sure I hadn't screwed up my metaphor by referencing the wrong pill color. I can happily report that googling "red pill matrix" does NOT summon any leather-trenchcoated Lawrence Fishburnes to your desk with bad news about the nature of your so-called existence. Phew!