Last month, all of the FYA Book Clubs read and discussed Sloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty. We swooned over Marcus, fist pumped for Jessica and started using quote fingers in honor of Sara. As a person who has treasured the series over the past few years, I seriously almost teared up as I watched my fellow book club members fall in love with this YA masterpiece... and with Marcus Flutie. How, we wondered, is it possible to pack all of that smokin' hotness into one literary character?
It was obvious to all of us that Megan McCafferty is MAGIC, and, as if to prove her superpowers, she reached out to us and volunteered to answer any of our burning questions about Sloppy Firsts! I KNOW! Like I said! MAGIC! So I gathered up questions from a few of our book clubs and sent them off to Megan. And today, I present to you her awesome responses, filled with scoops on the movie, the evolution of the series and, of course, Marcus' dreads.
From Jessica and the Toronto Book Club:
Any update on the movie adaptation?
The Sloppy Firsts movie is still in development with writer/director Anna Christopher and Taurus Road productions. We have a fantastic script that we worked on together, but we need funding to get our shared vision on screen.
And if there IS a movie, will Marcus still have his dreads? Inquiring minds need to know!
I hope so! This is the kind of detail that makes Marcus who he is!
From Britt and the LA West Book Club:
We at LA West (specifically Karen) are curious why McCafferty never had the best friend, Hope, respond to the emails.
The Jessica/Hope story actually began with a series of emails to Jessica from Hope. These emails were published on twistmagazine.com under the title, "You Think YOUR Life is Crazy" throughout 2000-2001---the year before Sloppy Firsts came out.
Also, does McCafferty have any plans to write a book for Hope (cuz that would be cool and we would totes read that serious)?
I don't have any plans to write a new book from Hope's perspective. However, I have considered making those old emails from Hope available as an e-book, maybe with some additional content.
From Michelle and the Research Triangle, NC Book Club:
If Megan could choose her dream cast for the Sloppy Firsts movie, who would it be?
This is dangerous, DANGEROUS territory. No matter what I say, the answer will be WRONG.
Just for me (Michelle), I've been wondering about Megan's thoughts on writing a book where sex is mentioned a lot (this is even more so in the second book). It's hard for me to remember...I definitely know I read books with sex in it when I was an actual young adult, but I don't think it was mentioned so frequently. While I think it's very realistic (I'm of the same exact generation as Jessica, graduated same year and everything), did she worry about her audience, or actually, the audience's parents' reactions to the book? Part of me wants my young adult stepdaughter to read this book, the other part of me wonders if it's weird for me to give the book to her! Did Megan purposefully balance this out by having her main character a virgin?
Jessica's virginity was an important aspect of her character at that stage in her life. I thought it would be more entertaining if she were a more of a caustic observer than participant in teenage debauchery. It also gave her room to grow, and readers get to see how her attitudes about lust (and love) change from the start of Sloppy Firsts to the end of Second Helpings.
I never included sex, drugs and four-letter words gratuitously for shock value. My goal was to depict high school life as it truly was, not how many adults wanted it to be. Ironically, to depict teenagers realistically, SLOPPY FIRSTS had to be published as adult fiction---not young adult! (And for the record, my parents were both high school teachers and they believed my fiction was tamer than reality.)
Please pass on to Megan how much we're all enjoying her book! I've maybe bought...all of her books now because I loved Sloppy Firsts so much! Thanks!
Thank you! Sloppy Firsts has been around for more than ten years. I'm so happy that it continues to reach new readers every day.
From Amber and the Atlanta Book Club:
Atlanta would like to know if the books were based on her high school and college experiences, or how much of Jessica was based on her.
There's nothing that happened to me in the same exact way it happened to Jessica, though we certainly have things in common: My best friend moved away, I was a runner, I worked on the boardwalk, etc. And we definitely share a cynical mindset and sarcastic sense of humor---or at least we did when I was in high school. (I've mellowed with age.) When writing the book, I referred back to the meticulous journals I kept during my high school years. I didn't crib specific events, but used them to capture the angst, the boredom, the lust, the overall hormonal confusion of being sixteen years old. In short, I always say that I started out with the truth, then started lying my ass off. That's the beauty of fiction.
From Amanda and the Boston Thursday Book Club:
These are the burning questions we have for Megan (in addition to the dreadlocks thing, obvs):
There was some debate about the exact note-folding technique Marcus used to create a mouth-shaped love note. Did he fold it into a triangle, like on the book cover, or another way entirely? (We actually tested out some theories at dinner but came to no clear conclusion)
I imagined it like one of those folded fortune tellers. But the football looked better on the cover, so that's what stuck.
Is there anything Megan wished she would have done differently in the first book as she wrote the remaining five in the series?
The only thing I regret is making some of the character names too close to real life people from my high school years. I've had to explain many, many times that Anonymous So-and-So is NOT Paul Parlipiano.
We know the book was optioned for a movie, but would Megan rather the Jessica Darling books be made into movies or a TV series? (We personally would prefer a TV series)
I'm so proud of the script that I worked on with Anna Christopher. It would make a very funny, heartfelt movie that is true to everything that you've come to love about these characters.
From Posh and the Austin Book Club:
Will a box set of the whole series ever be released? Because WE NEED TO OWN IT IMMEDIATELY!
I would love that. But that's up to Random House to decide.
How exactly did you go about creating the hotness that is Marcus Flutie? Did you piece him together from guys you know? And if so, how can we meet these guys?
Marcus Flutie is a maddening combination of several unrequited and/or off-limits crushes who made school worth showing up for.
When you wrote Sloppy Firsts, did you already know how the supporting characters would develop in future books?
Absolutely not! I had no idea there would be more books beyond Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. The need to write the next book usually came over me as I finished the one before. I'd keep generating enough ideas to make me realize that I wasn't through with these characters yet. I'd even have dreams about Jessica and Marcus! (Not those types of dreams. Get your head out of the gutter...) It was so much fun for me as a writer to take them all from one life stage into the next, from adolescence into adulthood.
After you finish the Bumped books, do you have any plans to return to realistic, contemporary YA fiction?
Actually, for the first time in 11 years I don't have plans to write any books at all. Since finishing up Thumped last summer, I've been working on screenplays. First I did a co-write with writer/director Anna Christopher on Sloppy Firsts. Then I wrote a script that combines Bumped and Thumped. Now I'm working on a romantic comedy that started out as an adaptation of a short story I wrote a few years back, but is now evolving into something else entirely. I don't know how any of these projects will pan out, but it's been so much fun working in a totally different medium. I'll return to books when I've got a story that is best told in the format. What kind of book will it be? I have no idea. But I look forward to finding out.
Thank you SO MUCH, Megan, for answering our burning questions! And, more importantly, thanks for ruining real boys forever because MARCUS FLUTIE.
Check out our Jessica Darling themed t-shirts!