Behind the Book & Giveaway: Want to Go Private?

Behind the Book is an exclusive feature at Muggle-Born that gives readers an inside look into the editorial process of some of our favorite books. Plot changes, lost characters, and many more interesting topics are tackled in an interview with the author.

Want to Go Private? by Sarah Darer Littman

Did You Know?

  • The original draft of Want to Go Private was written only in about four months!
  • Sarah Darer Littman met with the FBI as part of her research
  • The book was originally supposed to have been told in 3rd person
  • Read on to find out more Behind the Book info about WANT TO GO PRIVATE?!

How many months did it take for you to write the original draft of WANT TO GO PRIVATE?
About four months. It’s one of the faster books I’ve written in terms of a first draft.

How long did the overall production of your book take from the moment you got the manuscript to your editor to the final publication date?
Just under two years.

Throughout the editorial process were there any significant changes to your story in terms of plot?
It was really important to me to make the book as accurate as possible. I met with the FBI for an in-depth interview before I started drafting, and then after I’d written the first draft I created a detailed time-line of everything that happened in the plot and went back and met Supervisory Special Agent Tom Lawler again. We went through the time line and SSA Lawler advised me on issues where the FBI wouldn’t have had legal grounds to search or if there wasn’t sufficient evidence as the story was written – I then made sure that I made changes to the plot to take those issues into account.

Did you lose any characters along the way or go through any name changes?
No, not in this book. The book I’m working on now, on the other hand, has been character Armageddon!

What was the most challenging part of writing and the editorial process?
Getting the point of view and the structure right. I thought I needed to write WTGP in 3rd person, because the main character was going to be missing for part of the book. I wrote 11,000 words and it just wasn’t working. It felt flat. Then I had this brainwave about how I could tell the story using a three-part structure in first person with different points of view. I talked to my editor, Jen Rees about it, and we thought that might have the added advantage of increasing the tension and suspense, because the reader would only know what the characters know in real time. Once I started rewriting in first person the story came alive.

Did WANT TO GO PRIVATE? go through any title changes?
When I wrote the original proposal it was called “Predator” but we knew that was going to change, because it’s already a movie and besides, I hated that name but I couldn’t think of another one right away. I called it “The Creepy Predator Book” until one of my critique group members, Tom Mellana, who also happens be the editor for the political columns I write for Hearst Newspapers and so is used coming up with catchy titles for my writing, remarked that Luke asking Abby “Want to Go Private?” is where she makes her first bad decision and how that would make a good title. I tried offering Tom my firstborn son in gratitude but he didn’t want to have to pay the college tuition.

Is there anything else that you could tell us about WANT TO GO PRIVATE? that we wouldn’t know unless we were part of the editorial team at Scholastic Press?

I’m always amazed by the work that copy editors do, but in this case I am especially grateful. At one point Lily referred to what I thought was a made up website – but the copy editor found out that it was actually a rather sordid site that I would have been absolutely mortified to have kids visit. Lesson here: Authors – be very, very nice to your copy editors. They save you from serious embarrassment!

For more information about Want to Go Private? feel free to visit the following links:
Sarah Darer Littman Official Author Website
Want to Go Private? Official Website
ChezTeen – a WTGP Companion & Online Safety Guide

Want to Go Private? Giveaway!

Sarah and Scholastic Press have graciously offered to give one of my readers a copy of WANT TO GO PRIVATE?. To enter, simply fill out the form (link is below).



  • Must be 13 years of age or older. If you are under 13, please have your parent enter for you.
  • US only, as per publisher’s request. Sorry international folks!
  • Giveaway ends August 18th 2011 at 11:59 PM.


  1. 4 months is short but the shortest I’ve heard is 19 days because authors are you know not human >.> <.<.

    Wish I could enter the giveaway but I will have to go out and get the book myself xD.

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