Lauren: Are Dutch men sexy? I've been trying to decide about a character in a new book.
Emily: Oh, any guy not from here.
Sarah: No! Isn't it better if it's the boy next door, and she has to learn to love someone close to home?
Emily: Any guy not from here. You know hormones are my department.
Sarah: [Remembering they're being interviewed] My department's plot.
Lauren: And mine's emotion.
The three authors, well known for their previous (individual) work, set out as a lark to write a novel together -- without really knowing each other beforehand. The result is a fast-paced story of a road trip taken by three girls -- two friends and one who wants to be -- told in three voices with alternating chapters. Vicks, the character voiced by Emily (nom de plume "E.") Lockhart ("The Boyfriend List," "Fly on the Wall") is the wild girl; the purpose of the road trip is to pay a visit to her wayward boyfriend, who's gone off to college in Miami and isn't staying in touch. Vicks' best friend, Jesse, the character voiced by Myracle ("ttyl" and other popular books that make literature from e-mail speak), provides the car and enough Christian values to put the brakes on any truly bad behavior -- unless it's her own issues inspiring the bad behavior. Mel, the character voiced by Mlynowski ("Bras & Broomsticks"), is the pretty outsider with the credit card and a desire to belong. The three authors have such good chemistry, it was fun just to sit back and listen to them talk.
Sarah: We did not know each other when we started this book. I'd met Emily a few times. I started a MySpace teen lit discussion group and invited people to join. We started with eight people; now it's 14,000.
Lauren: These two were like rock stars to me . . .
Emily: Right, and she's the New York Times bestselling author!
Lauren: . . . and Sarah had asked, "What are you reading?" So I posted that I was reading "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" [a 2006 collaborative novel by well-known young-adult authors Rachel Cohn and David Levithan], and I wrote, "I want to do that one day."
Emily: I saw her post and posted back, "Any time, baby!" I could have e-mailed her, but I put it in a very public forum. I posted it. I just threw it out there. Writing a book together is like getting married, and I treated it like a date!
Lauren: I saw the post. I was thrilled and scared. I know I seem really friendly, but I'm a closet introvert. You know when you're a kid, and you like a guy, and he smiles back at you? Emily had just smiled back.
Sarah: Well, I saw the posts and said: "No way are they doing this without me." I had met Emily a few times -- we had the same publisher -- and [to Emily], I had read your books. I felt like I knew you.
Lauren: We all had other books going and other book contracts. It was foolish to jump into this.
Sarah: That was part of the appeal! It was an excellent procrastination tool!
Lauren: If you haven't figured this out, Sarah is the "yes" person.
Emily: She fears nothing. We would never have gotten started without her.