Thomas Goodman-Brown has the looks, popularity, intelligence and billion-dollar pedigree that warrant envy. But when a demon masquerading as a stunning socialite detects Thomas’ emotional and mental vulnerabilities, the young man falls prey to her plan to transform him into a bodily host for the wicked spirit of her dead son, Edward.
Another Jekyll, Another Hyde is the third and final book in the Another… series by brother-and-sister writing duo Daniel and Dina Nayeri. This contemporary take on the Robert Louis Stevenson novella explores the nonchalant glamour of Manhattan’s upper crust while remaining loyal to the self-destructive and darkened paranoia of the story’s namesake. Daniel dishes about joining forces with his sister, his affinity for puns and why serial books should stand on their own.
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What are the dangers of collaborating with a sibling?
We’re brother and sister so we definitely throw some knives. We realized very quickly that any time you have a fight in real life, like with a roommate, the easiest way to solve it is to say, “you get your way on this one, and I get my way on the next one.” And whoever really wants it more, gets it. But if you say, “this character is going to be French,” then you can’t just give that over and work on it for the next two years—that’s a huge concession. So we realized that whenever we came to a total conflict we had to basically find a third way.
Did one of you more easily adapt to Edward Hyde’s voice than the other?
A lot of times in collaboration the thing to do is to have two characters, maybe a boy and a girl, and have it alternate chapters so you can have your own domain. And we went back to the idea that no one was allowed to have their own domain—we were really in each other’s chili.
The one thing that we noted was that the first book has five characters. The second book only had a cast of three, and in the third book we have a cast of one. So it’s sort of narrowing, and a lot of that was, to be very honest, because we wanted to show that we could do it. Some people said Another Faust felt unwieldy because there were five characters. So we were like, all right, let’s try three, and we made it very plot-driven and people really liked the plot. I think a lot of it was reactive. We tried to stay clear of having a lot of Hyde because we didn’t want it to come off as a superdark book. We wanted to have a safe way of showing kids a dark side.
How did you decide upon a designer drug to be the catalyst for Thomas’ transformation into Hyde?
We really wanted to downplay it. Originally the pills were going to just look like M&Ms. We definitely did not want to be an after-school special, but in the first Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it’s chemically induced so there’s no getting away from that unless you want to turn it into some emotional thing.
You really can’t break that metaphor. It’s man’s ambition and man’s science that begins to turn the original Jekyll into Hyde, so we ended up just playing it straight. And the name “W” [for the pills] was just a pun, because I told Dina, “What about ‘W’? Get it? Double you?” So we just went with W. It worked on several levels. I just sneak in the puns...I really enjoy corny, self-aware humor.
After the physical, mental and emotional trauma he endures, where do you see Thomas in a few years?
One thing I dislike is when kids in stories make a ton of decisions, and there is no consequence to that, they come out completely unscathed. And throughout all three books, no one comes out unscathed because they are dealing with really serious things.
And I think Thomas is the most damaged—he comes out incredibly harmed. I would imagine him having to grow up and deal with it, and I think there’s definitely going to be a dark side. Where we find the hope in the story is that he really shows that as an adult what you learn when you come of age isn’t how to be good, but rather how to try to be good.
He’s not going to go around being perfect Thomas for the rest of his life. He’s going to go around realizing he needs to be Thomas and not Edward for the rest of his life. It’s a big moment when we get the tools to be upright. But he definitely has damage. There’s a lot of consequence.
How important has it been to have each book in the series be able to stand on its own?
For me, very important. Depending on the reader, I tell them to read a different one. So if I’m talking to a boy looking for an adventure story, I’m handing him Another Pan. That’s actually why the only through-character is Vileroy (with a few other cameos for fans).
Plus I don’t want people to have to go back and read two books. How many times have you been told to go back and watch a TV show, and you’re just like “I’m not going back to watch four seasons to catch up with you!” I think those are the kind of buy-ins that TV requires that books don’t need to.Gordon West is a writer and illustrator living in Greenpoint Brooklyn, N.Y. When he's not diving headfirst into teen literature, he's writing, drawing (WallaceWest.com), observing (ITakeMyCameraEverywhereIGo.com) or scouring the culinary landscape for gluten-free fare. His beagle mix, Sammy Joe, is supportive of all endeavors.