Holiday hijinks and family bonds play roles in Let It Glow, a middle-grade novel written by Marissa Meyer and Joanne Levy, which centers on identical twin sisters separated at birth who meet by chance at tryouts for a holiday pageant. The girls are understandably stunned: each knew she was adopted but had no idea she had a biological sibling—never mind an identical twin. Due on October 29 from Feiwel and Friends, the novel will be released simultaneously in hardcover and paperback, with a combined announced first printing of 110,000 copies. The book’s cover, designed by Rich Deas and illustrated by Celia Krampien, is revealed here.

Alternating chapters offer the perspectives of each character, with Meyer (making her middle-grade debut) providing the voice of quiet Holly Martin, who aspires to be a famous author; and Levy writing in the voice of outgoing Aviva Davids, who dreams of performing on Broadway. One thing the two share is a curiosity about the holiday traditions observed by the other, since Holly’s family celebrates Christmas and Aviva’s celebrates Hanukkah. Their curiosity is piqued to the point that the twins secretly swap lives, and homes, planning to stage a dramatic reveal to their families at the pageant.

A Lineup of “Firsts”

Though Meyer and Levy each has a robust roster of novels to her credit, neither author had previously cowritten a book. Meyer’s YA titles include the bestselling Lunar Chronicles, which launched in 2012 with Cinder, her debut novel; the Renegade trilogy; and Heartless, all published by Feiwel and Friends. Among Levy’s titles for readers ages nine to 12 are Double Trouble and Fish Out of Water, released in the Orca Currents line; and Orca Books novels The Sun Will Come Out and Sorry for Your Loss, winner of the Canadian Jewish Literature Award.

The idea for Let It Glow grew out of a conversation between Levy and her agent, Hilary McMahon at Westwood Creative Artists. “Hilary suggested that I take on a holiday book, and we came up with the idea of a story combining themes of twins separated at birth, adoption, and Christmas and Hanukkah,” Levy recalled. The author was on familiar turf with some of the plot threads—yet not all. “I am adopted, but as I explored further aspects of the story, I discovered that, since I’m Jewish, I can’t get into the heart of characters celebrating Christmas,” she said. “I realized that I couldn’t write this book alone.”

When Levy asked Meyer if she was interested in coauthoring the novel and Meyer came on board, a first-time collaboration was hatched. The authors have known each other—remotely—for years, since Levy has long served as Meyer’s virtual author assistant, working on her newsletter and managing her website and the administration of her weekly podcast. And, like Levy, Meyer identified with an aspect of the novel’s plot: she’s the adoptive mother of twin girls.

Meyer’s agent, Jill Grinberg of Grinberg Literary Management, submitted a proposal to Liz Szabla, associate publisher of Feiwel and Friends, who acquired the novel. Like both authors, she felt a connection to the storyline. “The holidays can be fraught for kids whose parents or extended families celebrate differently,” Szabla said. “It was also personal for me, having grown up in a family that celebrated both Christmas and Hanukkah, a tradition I have continued with my own family.”

Szabla expressed confidence about Meyer’s writing partnership, as well as her ability to make a smooth move into middle-grade fiction. “Marissa is a colleague and a professional partner in all aspects of her work,” Szabla noted. “She is generous with her experience, as a mentor and as a peer, and truly enjoys collaboration. She’s also an author who likes to challenge herself and change lanes creatively, and so her move into middle grade is an exciting new direction, and I’m glad she waited for the right project and co-author.”

The Making of a Cover

Orchestrating the art and design of Let It Glow’s cover was Rich Deas, senior creative director at Macmillan Children’s Book Group, who has been designing books for the company for more than 15 years. Like the writing of the novel, the execution of this task was a collaborative effort. After meeting with Szabla to discuss artist options and ideas for a cover, he explained, “I then approached Celia with some rough concepts, but, as always, I asked her to provide her own concepts as well.” He suggested to the artist that the cover illustration show two different houses, one with Christmas décor and the other with Hanukkah décor, but he emphasized that the holiday elements should be secondary to the characters. “And Celia created her magic from there,” Deas said.

According to Deas, Krampien delivered impressive sketches, which came as no surprise to him. “I hired Celia knowing she would create a warm and inviting image,” he said “Her line work and sense of color has so much personality. I feel the success of the cover hints at two different lives and backgrounds but brings the two together with a sense of warmth and unity.”

Meyer and Levy heartily approved of Krampien’s cover illustration and Deas’s design. “I squealed when I first saw it—and I’m not a squealer,” Meyer said. The authors’ positivity extended to the entire process of creating Let It Glow. “I loved it!” said Meyer of her first foray into writing for middle graders, noting, “I’ve been reading novels with my twins, who are now nine years old, and I love middle-grade voice and humor. To write this novel about twins, adoption, and the holidays was entirely joyous.”

And both authors (Meyer is from Tacoma, Wash., and Levy lives in Clinton, Ontario) are hoping that they have the chance to experience yet another “first” in the future: to meet, finally, face-to-face. As Let It Glow demonstrates, anything can happen.