Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Sweet Valley Twins #1: Best Friends! What are you most excited for readers to experience with this graphic novel adaptation of the fan-favorite series?
Nicole Andelfinger: I’m honestly most excited for new fans to get that same experience I had when reading Sweet Valley Twins as a middle schooler - a positive, realistic depiction of the roller coaster that having a sibling (or two, or several!) brings! This series was so important to me when I was young because of that depiction of sisters. I’m thrilled to be able to bring it to a new format for all of those young kids out there who find themselves thinking, "My sibling drives me crazy sometimes, but I love them!"
BD: The creative process of approaching an adaptation of a prior work - especially one as well known as Sweet Valley Twins - can be a daunting experience. Given that you are no stranger to adaptations (having worked with properties like The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance, Regular Show, Rugrats, and Steven Universe), how would you describe your approach to breathing new life into the story, and what did you find to be most rewarding/challenging about the process?
NA: Adaptations are always tricky, because you want to respect the source material while also giving it a little something new for those who were there the first time around. Sweet Valley Twins was a fun project, however, because I was extremely lucky in this case to be given permission to update certain parts. I even had the blessing of Francine Pascal signing off each step of the way, which is always a great affirmation, having the original creator on board. It just makes you want to bring out the best of the source every time!
BD: What can you tell us about your creative process in working with artist Claudia Aguirre for this first graphic novel?
NA: Quite honestly, comics are such a visual media that I often will give Claudia suggestions, but try to give her free reign, as well, to put her own take on it. Claudia has such a gift for expressions and details that, honestly, I trust her immensely when she comes up with how to format things. I’m happy to help get the seed planted, but just like most comics, art is really where it shines, and Sweet Valley Twins certainly has a plethora of amazing expressions to help bring the story to life. You can thank Claudia for that!
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that Best Friends’ story will connect with and impact readers?
NA: As someone with sisters, I just really appreciate the fact that Best Friends gives those with siblings this communal space to realize that we have literally all been through that struggle of coming into ourselves while also scared of things changing. It’s something I still struggle with sometimes, and why I feel like Elizabeth is so relatable in this book especially. Change is hard, and terrifying, but often can help us find our own sense of what makes us, us. Who wouldn’t want that kind of reassurance, especially at the Sweet Valley Twins age of middle school?
BD: Are there any other upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
NA: Besides Sweet Valley Twins book two, three, and four? I kid! (But also…) Unfortunately, I don’t have any projects I can openly talk about right now, but I do want to highlight a few books by the twins important to me in my life: Whitney Leopard’s Fitting In is out in 2024, and Bones Leopard’s Identical is due out in 2023!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Sweet Valley Twins #1: Best Friends and your other work?
NA: For Sweet Valley Twins, the folks at Penguin have a pretty great summary put together on their site. Though if you’re wanting a sneak peek, their Twitter might be a better place! Admittedly, I’m a bit reclusive on socials, but you can find me in most of the usual places (@nandelfinger). Please don’t judge the number of photos of my cat!