The Book Chick: These Girls tells the story of three women who live together as roommates. Have you ever lived with roommates, and if so did your personal experiences shape the story?
Sarah Pekkanen: Yes, I’ve had roommates before – in college and right after college – but I didn’t draw as much on those personal experiences in writing These Girls as I did on the friendships I have today. That’s probably because my main characters in These Girls are around the age of 30, and in high-pressure jobs (two of them work at a glossy magazine in New York City that’s similar to In Style magazine). Still, I think all women face the same challenges no matter what their stage of life: We’re all working on relationships, which can nurture and uplift us but also cause us pain, and we all strive toward happiness. We just find it in different ways and places.
TBC: As a writer you are bound to have really good days and really bad days. What is the best kind of day for you as an author, and what is the worst?
SP: I think writing is like training for a marathon. You have to do it almost every single day – even if it’s raining out and you have shin splints and every passing car drives through a puddle and splatters you. But there are also days when the sun is shining and the breeze is gentle and you feel as if you could run forever. It’s the same in writing – some days clichés seem determined to infest your work, and you cringe at the stuff that ends up in your manuscript, and just pray you can burn those pages before anyone sees them. But oh, some days are pure magic! I’ve had times when I’ve sat down to write, then looked up and realized three hours have passed in an instant. Being utterly, completely lost in imagination is my favorite journey of all.
TBC: You've been on book tours and have met lots of fans along the way. Do you have any funny fan stories?
SP: Oh, yes! Once I was a at a big book festival, waiting to give a speech, and this woman rushed up to me. “Oh, my God, I LOVE your work!” she shouted. “Your writing just speaks to me. And you’re so young! I figured you’d be older, since you’re so wise and accomplished!” She went on and on, and I sat there feeling pretty incredible. Then I looked up and realized I was under the sign for author Elizabeth Berg.
TBC: Is there a book or books that you re-read regularly?
SP: I’ve read The Hunger Games twice because I love that series so much. Also, In Cold Blood by Truman Capote because it’s an incredible book – he showed us that it’s possible to write non-fiction and make it every bit as compelling as fiction.
TBC: What is the hardest part for you about balancing being an author and being a mother?
SP: Now that I’m writing a book a year, and have firm deadlines, I realize that I need a few chunks of time to really concentrate when I’m writing pivotal scenes. I tend to write on the fly – I snatch an hour before all my kids wake up, or when my youngest is at preschool. But I also need a few big swaths of time to read through my manuscript and make sure it’s anchored securely. That’s the biggest challenge for me as a mother – writing through endless distractions and interruptions and requests for juice or extra Wii time. So twice during the writing of These Girls, I checked into a hotel for one night and didn’t leave my room, other than to grab coffee. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and it was so helpful!
TBC: Is there one author in particular that you go to when you're having a bad writing day or a difficult time with one of your books?
SP: Jennifer Weiner. She writes so naturally, and confidently. I adored her work the first time I read her novel Good In Bed, and I can’t believe I now get to work with the same editor and publisher as Jen!
Thanks so much for having me here today, and If anyone would like to connect on Facebook or twitter @sarahpekkanen please come find me – I’d love to chat more!
Thank-you again to Sarah for taking the time to come and visit today! It's always a pleasure having her here. Check back here tomorrow because I will be reviewing These Girls which was every bit as enjoyable as I thought that it would be!