Francine Pascal (née Rubin, born May 13, 1938) is an American author best known for creating the Sweet Valley series of young adult novels.
Sweet Valley High was the backbone of the collection, and was made into a popular television series. There were also several spin-offs, including The Unicorn Club and Sweet Valley University. Although most of these books were published in the 1980s and 1990s, they remained so popular that several titles have been re-released in recent years.
Francine Rubin was born in Manhattan, New York and raised in Queens, New York, United States. Her father was an auctioneer. In 1958, she graduated from New York University. It was there that she first met author and journalist John Pascal and, in 1965, they were married. Francine often credited John as her writing mentor, and they collaborated on several projects, including writing scripts for the ABC soap opera The Young Marrieds, which aired from 1964 to 1966 as part of the ABC Daytime block. John died of lung cancer in 1981, at 49 years of age.
Francine’s brother was the prolific Broadway playwright and librettist Michael Stewart, who wrote the books to such musical hits as Bye Bye Birdie and Hello, Dolly! Francine, her husband John, and her brother Michael worked together writing the book to the Broadway musical George M!, which ran at the Palace Theatre from 1968 to 1970. A television version of George M! was aired on NBC in 1970. Following her brother’s death in 1987, Ms. Pascal revised his musical Mack & Mabel. She also worked on the revision of another of his musicals, Carnival!, for the Kennedy Center in Washington.
Pascal’s first young adult novel, published in 1977, was called Hangin’ Out with Cici, in which her heroine, Victoria Martin, went back in time and met her mother as a teenager. It was televised as an ABC Afterschool Special, My Mother Was Never a Kid. She has written two other books about Victoria Martin; these were My First Love and Other Disasters and Love and Betrayal & Hold the Mayo. Another of her early novels, The Hand-Me-Down Kid, was also made into an ABC Afterschool Special.
More recent works include the Caitlin series, a set of three trilogies which follows a teenage girl into adulthood, as well as a second mass-market project, the young adult fantasy spy series Fearless and its spin-off Fearless: FBI. A TV series was also planned for Fearless, but for several reasons it never aired.
Another of Pascal’s novels, The Ruling Class, a teen novel about a clique of spectacularly cruel girls who essentially run a high school in a wealthy Dallas suburb, has been described as “a magnetic tour de force created by a master storyteller at the top of her form.”
In addition to her work for mostly female teens, Ms. Pascal has written some adult fiction books, including La Villa (originally published as If Wishes Were Horses) and Save Johanna!, as well as a non-fiction book, The Strange Case of Patty Hearst, on which she collaborated with her husband John. Sweet Valley Confidential: Ten Years Later revisited the Sweet Valley High characters ten years later, by which time they had become adults. The adult story continues with The Sweet Life, a series of e-books taking place three years after Sweet Valley Confidential.
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