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By Gerry Boyle '78
Stephanie Doyon '93 wrote and published eight novels in four years and didn't get her name on any of them. And that's fine with her.
Doyon, an English major and creative writing student from Lisbon, Maine, quickly made her way to New York City after graduation. She was working at a literary agency (filing and copying) when a co-worker mentioned that the publishers of several teen fiction series were looking for ghost writers. "I said, 'Aha. I'll give that a shot,'" she said.
Now, Doyon isn't supposed to tell what books she wrote. But suffice it to say, it is a series you've probably heard of if you've had contact with teen-age girls. There were "a slew of writers" for the series, Doyon said, but only the series creator got her name on the books.
"I didn't really want my name on those, to be honest," Doyon said. "It was not the best content. A lot of them were thrillers. I wrote about axe murderers. But I tried so hard to inject value in it somehow."
Her goal was writing experience, and she got it. The editor gave her a 10-page outline and she turned it into a 250-page novel. It took about eight weeks. Editing was another week or two. Doyon worked 40 hours a week at the literary agency, then wrote the series books at night. The experience gave her discipline and earned her an agent. "I felt like I was going to graduate school," she said. "I really learned so much."
Invoking the lessons of Richard Russo and Jim Boylan, her former creative writing professors at Colby, Doyon wrote for a series called "Love Stories" that allowed her to come up with the story lines herself. And then in 1997 Doyon sold her own series idea to Simon & Schuster. The books follow the life of an 18-year-old who takes a year off before college to travel around the country. Doyon had full control of the contentand her name on the cover.
"I enjoyed it," she said. "When I get fan mail it's incredible because kids are so impressionable. . . . It's nice to have that influence. In [the series] 'On the Road' it was very important for me to have a character who was independent. Her life didn't center around boys or fashion. It was really about self-discovery and trying not to follow the crowd and all those things."
Doyon wrote four books for the series, which was optioned by Beth Sullivan, producer of the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Several publishers are waiting with offers if a television series based on Doyon's books takes off, though Doyon says that would be a mixed blessing. "The problem being that I'm not interested in writing teen books anymore. It was just the next step."
Her goal now is to complete an novel for adults. Doyon, recently married and relocated from New York City to Chatham, N.J., said she's been working for several months on a novel about "suburban life" and has other ideas percolating. One centers on her real-life experience living in a Quaker boarding house in New York's East Village for six years. "I tried to turn it into a TV show," Doyon said. "I have an agent at William Morris who's handling the option. He was really interested in it but couldn't sell it to anybody. I might try a book with it later. There were so many good characters. But I feel I need some distance. People would get pretty mad at me now, I think."
"You mean you wouldn't want them to think you were secretly observing them with a book in mind?" she was asked.
"Right," Doyon said. "Even though I really was."
The Colby Difference: The Inauguration of William D. Adams
Nuclear Fiction: Daniel Traister '63 Delves Into the Fiction of World War II
The Hot Zone and the Cold War: Frank Malinoski '76 Investigates Biological Warfare
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