Ashley and Leslie Saunders pose with their book, "The Rule of One" (Photo courtesy of Ashley and Leslie Saunders
Saint Sebastian's School

Saunders Twins Rides High with ‘The Rule of One’

“The Rule of One,” a dystopian novel written by twin sisters Ashley and Leslie Saunders, is about family, adventure, self-discovery, and the search for space to belong.

The Young Adult science fiction/fantasy book, published by Skyscape in Oct. 2018, hooks readers with the idea of a one-child policy in the future United States and a tightly held secret. The head of the Texas Family Planning Division has a daughter Ava. But nobody knows that there is another daughter — Mira, Ava’s identical twin. After 18 years of hiding and trying to pretend that the twins are one person, they are found out, and the twins must flee, fight, and try to survive.

“It was always very important for us to tell an authentic twin sister story,” Ashley Saunders said. “It was both therapeutic and enthralling diving into the theme of identity and exploring the varying roles siblings tend to place onto themselves and onto each other.”

The story is told in interchanging chapters from Mira and Ava’s point of view.

“We love stories that are about the strong bonds of family and different types of people coming together for a single cause,” Leslie Saunders said.

Ashley, the elder twin, wrote all of Ava’s chapters and Leslie took charge of Mira’s chapters.

“It is so amazing to have your co-writer be your own sister,” Ashley Saunders said. “We live together and write together from home every day. It’s immensely helpful to have each other to bounce ideas off of and push one another’s writing.”

The Saunders sisters studied film at the University of Texas in Austin, and they had written a full-length screenplay which they used as the outline for “The Rule of One.”

“A lot of the plot and structure was already there, we just had to fill in a lot more detail,” Ashley Saunders said. “It took eight months to write the book including our own editing.”

Leslie Saunders talked about their preparation.

“Over the course of a year, we read lots of books on climate change and researched what a new-future America might look like in terms of technological advancement,” Leslie Saunders said.

About halfway through writing the book, the twins decided to take a road trip visiting the national parks.

“We really wanted to fully immerse ourselves with the isolated setting the sisters encounter, so, for twenty days, it was just two of us out on the open road,“ Leslie Saunders said. “Yellowstone was our first one, and now we’ve been to 22 and counting!”

Now, “The Rule of One” is leading the twin storytellers on more exciting opportunities. They have a development deal with producer Ginger Sledge (Where’d You Go, Bernadette, Miss Congeniality) for a television series based on their book series. Also, the sequel, “The Rule of Many,” comes out May 7.