Q&A With Sarah Pekkanen
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Q&A With Sarah Pekkanen
Today’s Q&A is with New York Times bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen. Sarah has written 13 novels – 8 solo books including “The Opposite Of Me,” “The Ever After,” “The Perfect Neighbors,” and has a new solo thriller coming August 1st of 2023 titled, “Gone Tonight.” Sarah has also co-written four books with Greer Hendricks which are the novels “The Wife Between Us,” “You Are Not Alone,” “An Anonymous Girl,” and “The Golden Couple.”
Q: Sarah what made you want to write mystery thrillers specifically?
A: I began my career writing fiction that many reviews compared to Taylor Jenkins Reid and Jennifer Weiner – not thrillers, but suspenseful books about the lives of complicated, strong female characters. But slowly, the tenor of my novels began to shift to include more suspense. I’ve always read thrillers and this is where my writing path began to lead. When Greer and I teamed up together to write The Wife Between Us, I made the official leap to becoming a thriller author.
Q: When in your life did you realize that your calling was to be a writer?
A: I’ve always known, and I sometimes wonder if writing is hard-wired into my DNA. My father’s side of the family loves words. His mother – my grandma – had to drop out of high school to help support her family and she worked as a waitress her whole life. But in her spare time, she was absolutely ruthless in games of Scrabble, and she enjoyed reading. I sometimes wonder if she secretly wanted to be a writer. My father also knew very early on that he was a writer, and he became a journalist and a non-fiction medical writer. Even though we focus on very different styles and subjects, our shared love of the craft has always linked us together.
Q: What advice do you give to anyone wanting to write mystery thrillers? What advice do you give people who struggle with writers block.
A: My favorite piece of advice is to write one page a day. Do that, and you’ll have a draft of your book in a year. And if I have a good writing session in a particular environment, such as a corner table in a coffeeshop, I try to go back to the exact spot to coax the magic to emerge again. If someone is sitting in the chair, I mope around and look dejected until they leave. Oh, and I also talk to myself when I write, which can be disconcerting for those around me when I’m writing a murder scene.
If I feel like I’m getting blocked, to me that’s a signal something earlier on in my manuscript isn’t working and my subconscious is holding me back. So I go through and read from the start and try to figure out where I’m going off track.
Q: If you were to write in a totally different genre which genre would it be and why?
A: I used to be a newspaper reporter, and I loved to write long narrative stories – true stories that read like a work of fiction. If I had to write in a different genre, it would be non-fiction. I’d find a real-life, compelling story and craft it to read like a novel.
Q: What’s it like having Greer Hendricks as your co-author? What advice do you give to anyone who wants to have a friend or a family member co-write books with them?
A: Greer and I had a terrific time writing four books together! Lots of laughter (even though we were writing creepy books) and we’re so proud of all we created. Right now, though, I’m focusing on writing solo novels and my next two will be solo thrillers. As for advice, I’d say respect is key – listen thoughtfully to each other’s ideas, and have fun!
Q: What new projects are you working on now?
A: Having finished Gone Tonight (which Colleen Hoover raves kept her “glued to the pages), I’m writing my thriller for 2024. I’m super-excited about it – the high concept has forced me to game up as an author. I can’t wait to share it with you!
Q: Does Hollywood have the rights to any of your novels both solo and co-written with Greer?
A: Yes! In fact, we wrote the screenplay for The Wife Between Us for Amblin, and several other projects are under option. I hope to have some exciting news to reveal soon!