Real Teens and The Whole Picture: A Lunch Conversation with Rob Thomas and Sarah Dessen



~post by Willa of Teen Press Corps

Rob Thomas, of Veronica Mars and Rat Saw God, and Sarah Dessen, who’s newest book is The Moon and More, sat down with Lauren Myracle for a discussion during lunch. They started off talking about fans, and responsibilities towards fans. As Sarah Dessen stated, “When I’m writing, I have to write the book that’s coming to me, and hope the readers go along with the ride.” Rob Thomas, had a different experience with the upcoming Veronica Mars movie, because he felt that the movie was for the fans. Afterall, it was completely paid for by VM fans.

Rob Thomas and Sarah Dessen had very different experiences to some questions, while others, they were echoing each other’s words. Rob loves bittersweet endings. Sarah enjoys a satisfactory ending as long as it makes a roller-coaster plot worthwhile.

Both Rat Saw God and That Summer, Rob Thomas and Sarah Dessen’s first books, respectively, came out in 1996. That’s back in the stone-age when YA was still in the children’s section. A period in time best summed up by Sarah Dessen’s own words, “Everyone asked me if my book was about a girl’s period.”

As for how much has changed in the genre over the past few decades, Sarah summed it up in one word: “Vastly”. Rob took a screenwriting point of view, and mentioned how in 1996, “you could still get a show on the air about real-ish teens… Veronica Mars was my response to the failure of Freaks and Geeks.”

The discussion focused mainly on fans, and how the authors responded to fan desires. As a fan that was fascinating. The struggle between making fans happy and keeping yourself, as the author, happy was a topic that came up frequently. Rob Thomas seemed to nail it right on the head with his character Veronica. “I told my writers to write her like a porcupine. She’s not cuddly… Fans want Veronica to be cuddly, but what I like about Veronica is the holes in her personality.”

Sarah Dessen agreed, “It’s the flaws that make people different.”


More Panels. We’re going to hear from The Dark Days and the Powers Strange and Perilous authors!! Keep up with us!