Isn't it a little precocious for an 18-year-old to be penning a chick-lit novel?
Probably not as much as a30-year-old, but I think I've experienced enough to capture the angst and drama of high school.
Is this inspired by Bridget Jones' Diary?
Not consciously. (emphasis mine)
one could also make an argument that two authors with such chiched and trite styles are bound to come up with similar sentences at some point
Ms. Viswanathan's own parents have been intent on giving her a book party when she gets home from college this summer. "They wanted to have a red carpet strewn with rose petals," she said, her voice rising. "And I've just woken up and I'm still in my pajamas and my mom will call, and she'll say like, 'Kaavya, would you prefer pink or white rose petals?'
And while the 'sphere buzzes with schadenfreude, speculation and wonder that this may well be Freywatch redux, what's lost in the shuffle is the silent middleman in the equation: 17th Street Productions, the book packager responsible for giving the YA world SWEET VALLEY HIGH, GOSSIP GIRL and other YA teen glam books.
Let's go through the timeline: back in 2004, Visnawathan was a high school senior making use of IvyWise -- a five-figure program to help her get into Ivy League schools such as...Harvard. The college counselor she worked with was Katherine Cohen, who also happened to be an author ('Rock Hard Apps: How to Write the Killer College Application") and represented by Suzanne Gluck at William Morris. Visnawathan showed Cohen some of her writing samples, including a 100-page draft of OPAL MEHTA, and ended up in the hands of Jennifer Rudolph Walsh (best known as James Patterson's agent.)
Then Walsh turned around and sent Visnawathan to 17th Street Productions, Why? Because as Walsh told the Boston Globe back in February, she didn't have a "commercially viable" work, having instead written something much darker. 17th Street worked with the young author to "flesh out the concept" of what would become OPAL MEHTA, which sold to Little, Brown on the basis of a few chapters and a detailed plot synopsis.
Viswanathan and her novel, which arrived in stores this month, have been the talk of the publishing world, partly because of the size of the contract for so young a writer -- she was 17 when she got it -- but also for the role a book packager played in developing the plot of a novel. Packagers are normally employed in specialized nonfiction books such as nature guides and picture books, and sometimes actually deliver finished books that bear a publisher's name more as a distributor.
In this case, Viswanathan's agent referred her to Alloy Entertainment because her original idea for a novel was considered too dark. The semicomic plot involves parents trying to develop a girl's social life so she'll get into Harvard. While Viswanathan said the plot was her idea, she acknowledged in a February interview with the Globe that Alloy had played a major role in fleshing out the concept.
Leslie Morgenstein, president of Alloy, which holds the copyright along with her, said by e-mail yesterday that his firm did not help Viswanathan with any of the actual writing. 'We helped Kaavya conceptualize and plot the book," he said. 'We are looking into the serious allegations before commenting further."
A few literary agents contacted yesterday by the Globe raised eyebrows at the packager's active role in conceptualizing the novel. 'We would never recommend to an author that they share copyright for something as minor as refining a concept," said Boston-area literary agent Doe Coover.
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