Isabel and Nicki's story was written by real-life twins Julia DeVillers and Jennifer Roy. Julia wrote Isabel's journal and Jennifer wrote Nicki's, but they created the overall story together and are writing the full book together! American Girl's official blog interviewed them:
What is your favorite part of Isabel and Nicki’s story?
Julia: I love Isabel and Nicki’s enthusiasm and joy for doing all the ’90s things. Isabel is passionate about writing with her glittery gel pens, keeping her Tamagotchi well-fed, eating Cheez Balls, reading for Book-It prizes, and planning to celebrate Y2K. The twins create countdown lists: “10 Things to Do Before Y2K.” They “twin-ky” promise to complete their goals before the new millennium, including conquering a fear, performing an act of kindness, and making a memory to last forever.
(I also love Isabel’s cat, Buffy–she’s based on a cat we had when we were Isabel’s age who would climb our curtains and jump off and scare people!)
Jennifer: I enjoyed it when Nicki skateboards and walks her energetic puppy Blossom around her community. She shows us what it was like to live in her community in Seattle when Seattle became the mecca of ’90s music, coffee shops, and technology. When I was young, I had a skateboard that I loved to ride around my neighborhood in Upstate New York. I felt so carefree and I even learned to do some tricks, just like Nicki! (Please don’t ask me to try it now!)
It also was fun to see Nicki make authentic friends who cheer her on.
Are there parts of your twin relationship that are reflected in the twins’ story?
Julia: We both feel very honored to help tell Isabel and Nicki’s twin stories. Like Isabel and Nicki, we think we have “twin-tuition!” Jennifer and I have a lot of spooky “twin” moments where it’s like we’re reading each other’s mind! Being a twin means you have a unique bond. You’ve shared your lives together. Isabel and Nicki also share a room like we did, which means extra bonding time in late-night talk sessions.
Jennifer: Julia and I have so much fun being twins, just like Nicki and Isabel! Nicki is the older twin by minutes, just like I’m the older twin. But Isabel is an inch taller, just like Julia!
Also, Isabel and Nicki find themselves moving away from each other as they explore themselves as individuals, but they always make their way back together for more closeness and fun. This is similar to us. Julia and I have some separate interests and different things going on and we live in different states, but we always make sure to spend time together. (For example, writing this book series!) We are so lucky we got to talk a lot with each other, be creative and write about American Girl’s first historical twins!
What ’90s moments were significant for you and did those things find their way into the twins’ books?
Julia: Music was a significant part of my ’90s, and I love how Isabel is a Spice Girls superfan. The Spice Girls' themes of girl power and supportive friendships are themes in Isabel’s and Nicki’s stories as well. Along the way, the girls realize they’re stronger together than they are apart. Fun fact: I got to hang out with one of the Spice Girls—something on both mine and Isabel’s bucket lists!
Jennifer: I was—and still am—a fan of ’90s grunge music, just like Nicki. I also love how Nicki loves No Doubt and Gwen Stefani’s message of girl empowerment. I owned the first No Doubt CD when it came out and played it all the time! Also, I remember how exciting it was to get my own personal computer. And like Nicki, I was scared about the Y2K bug crashing all the computers and causing disaster around the world. (Spoiler: Nothing happened.)
What was it like working with your twin?
Julia: Jennifer and I used to pass our journals back and forth, writing notes to each other, so writing Isabel and Nicki’s stories brings us back to our childhood! We would pass Isabel and Nicki’s manuscripts back and forth and write suggestions on each other’s. There was a lot of laughter along the way!
Jennifer: Even when we disagreed on something or had different ideas, we’d communicate and figure it out, just like Isabel and Nicki learn to do along their journey. I’m a doodler, and I always drew pictures in my journals and our notebooks along with words. I love how Nicki and Isabel’s journals reflect their stories with words and amazing illustrations!
What do you hope readers get out of the story you wrote?
Julia: I hope Isabel’s story helps empower readers to be true to themselves. Isabel has relatable drama with her twin sister and her friends and she has to figure out how to stay together while growing apart. It’s an emotional rollercoaster! Isabel’s journey of self-discovery—including finding new creative outlets, new friends, and new ways to express herself—inspires readers to have the confidence to be their own true, authentic selves.
Jennifer: I hope Nicki’s story makes people who may be struggling to find friends feel less alone. I also would love readers to challenge themselves to face their fears and find their own voices. Everyone has something to say, and whether you write song lyrics, create a zine, or simply speak out when a change is needed, it's important and empowering!
Anything else about the twins you would like to add?
Julia: We're both longtime fans of American Girl–yes, during Isabel and Nicki’s era! It was a privilege to have the opportunity to dig into American Girl’s archives, such as ’90s American Girl magazines and letters from readers. We love thinking about how those readers are grown up now but helped inspire Nicki and Isabel.
Jennifer: We had an amazing time writing for American Girl with our best friend—our twin sister! I think readers who aren’t twins will enjoy getting a peek into the life of these twin sisters. And twins may find things they relate to and recognize something about themselves in Isabel and Nicki’s stories.
Julia: Also, writing in a diary format really gave us a chance to bring the twins’ voices to life in a unique and personal way. The journal’s design is so much fun and the illustrations are gorgeous.
Jennifer: I am so excited that American Girl has fans of all ages, and I hope they love Isabel and Nicki and their stories as much as we do!