David Levithan, who co-authored the 2010 young adult novel Will Grayson, Will Grayson with John Green, is in the process of writing a “musical-novel spinoff,” to be released in Spring 2015. This news, of course, begs the question, “What exactly is a musical-novel?”
In an interview for Entertainment Weekly, Levithan explains the concept behind his unconventional novel.
Contrary to what the title of the original novel suggests, neither Will Grayson nor Will Grayson are the true stars of the story. That title belongs to breakout character Tiny Cooper, who over the course of the novel, writes a lively, over-the-top, razzle-dazzle musical called Hold Me Closer: The Tiny Cooper Story. This musical, which describes the life and times of its eponymous character from his birth to his tumultuous quest for love, is what Levithan’s musical-novel will be.
The novel, then, will read more like a script for a broadway musical, complete with lengthy song numbers that were alluded to in the original work. In terms of the actual music for the novel, Levithan claims that this is still up in the air. Will the book have its own soundtrack? Will the music come solely from fans (who, in fact, have already composed songs based on the snatches of lyrics found in Will Grayson, Will Grayson on YouTube). In the interview, Levithan responded with, “There are some actual composers in mind that I would love to see if they would want to compose some of the songs, but at the same time, I’m really interested in the idea of crowd-sourcing the musical once the book comes out and really letting the readers make their own versions of the songs and post them on YouTube or send them around, and soundtrack it their own way. I don’t want it to be entirely pre-prescribed. There could be an official version, but I expect that there will be plenty of unofficial versions. I know that some versions of the songs in Will Grayson, Will Grayson already exist out there, and so this is just encouraging readers, especially young readers, to play around with it if they want.”