We adored These Girls. We cried while reading Skipping A Beat. We cannot wait to get our hands on a copy of The Opposite of Me. We absolutely adore the work of Sarah Pekkanen, and are unbelievably honored that she participated in our Summer Author Interview Series!
Check out our exclusive Q&A:
TWT: Where do get your inspiration for your books?
SP: For me inspiration is kind of like cooking soup. I take a few ingredients – say a knotty situation and a strong character and an interesting setting – and throw them together, then let them simmer on the back burner while I do other things, like fold laundry and walk the dog. All the while, though, my subconscious is hard at work, blending those elements into something cohesive and hopefully appealing. I also firmly believe we authors need to seek our inspiration. Rather than waiting for it to grace me with its presence, I constantly ask, “What if…?” Imagining scenarios is terrific practice for building plots.
TWT: Of all the characters that you’ve created, who is your favorite?
SP: Oh, I could never name a favorite! That would be like asking me to pick my favorite child (and I have three kids, just as I have three published novels). I like bits and pieces of all of my characters, and I can relate to certain parts of all of them, too. And, I feel a little protective of them, just as I do my children.
TWT: These Girls truly is a testament to the power of female friendship, and the bonds that come with it. All three of your characters have their own distinct personalities. Can you tell our readers how you came up with these characters?
SP: Thank you! I knew I wanted three very different characters, who had in common that they were all women on the cusp of 30 who were dealing with personal and professional complications, but I wanted the similarities to end there.
TWT: What made you want to go into journalism? What advice would you give to aspiring journalists?
SP: I knew from the time I was a kid that I wanted to write, and even though I wrote a lot of fiction as a child, I went into journalism instead of immediately beginning to write novels because it seemed like steadier work. I covered Capitol Hill for several years before becoming a features writer for The Baltimore Sun newspaper, and although during my early jobs the pay was low and the hours long, I learned so much. I’d advise aspiring journalists to get their foot in the door. Don’t worry about salary or perks – take the job that will give you the best experience and you can climb the ladder quickly.
TWT: You have three sons, and yet you manage to write the most compelling novels – what’s your secret?
SP: Thanks so much. My journalism background really helped me learn to focus and to write under pressure – and to write with a lot of background noise, which comes in handy these days when my sons are in the background and I have a deadline looming. I can also write anywhere at all – in fact, I’m typing this from the passenger’s seat of our minivan while my husband drives us home from a vacation in North Carolina. I also bring my laptop with me whenever I take my kids to the dentist or soccer practice – anywhere I might be able to squeeze in a page or two.
TWT: If you had to pick five writers that you look up to, who would they be?
SP: Jennifer Weiner, for her generosity to other authors as well as her gorgeous stories. Laura Hillenbrand, for the hope her nonfiction books give to readers everywhere. Jodi Picoult, who shows that it’s possible to be a loving, involved mother to three kids while still knocking out a book every single year. Book bloggers, who do so much to spread the word about books and inspire a love of reading. And my Dad, a former journalist and author of seven nonfiction novels, for teaching me to love storytelling.
TWT: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
SP:Write one page every single day. If you do that, you’ll have a draft of your book in a year!
TWT: Who is your greatest teacher?
SP: My kids. The world is so much more interesting, and funny, through their eyes.