Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Greer Hendricks is the coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers An Anonymous Girl and The Wife Between Us. Prior to becoming a novelist, she spent over two decades as an editor at Simon & Schuster. She obtained her master’s in journalism from Columbia University and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Allure, and Publishers Weekly. Greer lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of eight solo novels, as well as the coauthor of the New York Times bestsellers An Anonymous Girl and The Wife Between Us. A former investigative journalist and award-winning feature writer, she has published work in The Washington Post, USA Today, and many others. She is the mother of three sons and lives just outside Washington, D.C.


You Are Not Alone

Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.

Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better.

Shay would die for them to like her. She may have to.

Read An Excerpt

Amazon US  |  Amazon UK  |  Barnes & Noble | Indiebound 

My review

Skillfully plotted and absolutely chilling, You Are Not Alone is written in elegant, exact language. This is a ferociously smart thriller that’s suffused with menace.


Author’s Corner – interview with Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Can you tell me something about you that your readers might not know?

GREER: I am obsessed with podcasts. I listen to them as I walk my dogs, commute around New York City, and lie in bed at night with insomnia. My tastes range from NPR (politics and Fresh Air) to Dirty John (true crime), to Fat Mascara (beauty advice) to Happier in Hollywood (two relatable TV writers provide the inside scoop on hollywood and other topics).

SARAH: I seek out crazy adventures – everything from flying airplanes to mountain-climbing and ice-climbing to indoor skydiving (I’m working up to the real thing). My boyfriend and I just booked a racecar driving experience – we’ll drive Nascars as fast as we can around a track. If it gets my adrenaline going, I’ll do almost anything!

How has being bestselling authors changed things for you both? Do you still write the same, or is there more/less pressure now?

GREER & SARAH: Our lives have definitely gotten busier! Our process has stayed the same – lots of talking and working from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a shared Google doc via Google hangouts. What has changed are our other commitments – we are working on the screenplay for The Wife Between Us, we’re executive producing two television projects, we contribute to podcasts, author articles and of course, we go on tour with every new book launch. As for the pressure, we always want each novel to be our best one, which sometimes creates some self-imposed stress, but we also love the challenge.

What are some of the jobs you had before becoming an author? How have they helped you in your writing career now?

GREER: Before becoming an author I studied Psychology and Journalism. I worked in magazines for several years, and as a book editor at Simon & Schuster for two decades. The psychology informs what I like to write about and my experience as an editor taught me a lot about the business side of publishing.

SARAH: I held a bunch of jobs during high school and college, including waitressing, dog-walking, and even working as an extra on the set of Hollywood movies. Waitressing especially taught me the art of diplomacy, and it sure taught me a lot about people! But writing captivated my heart from a young age, and I’ve always known it would be my career. I began writing for newspapers straight out of college, covering everything from politics to opening day at the Orioles baseball stadium. I learned to write under tight deadlines, which has proven invaluable in crafting novels. Sometimes we authors can get too inside our own heads, which carries the danger of paralyzing the process. Newspaper reporting gave me the gift of learning to write quickly and succinctly, and I’m forever grateful for that.

If you could recommend any other book(s) that you’ve read and loved recently, what would it be?

GREER: I loved Lori Gottlieb’s Maybe You Should Talk to Someone. This remarkably candid and compelling memoir explores the psychotherapeutic experience from the clinician and patient’s point of view. It provides the reader with a behind the scenes look from both sides of the couch. The stories Gottlieb shares about her own life and her patients are moving, funny and relatable. I found myself underlining many passages including this one: “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

SARAH: I also chose a book about a therapist and her clients, not surprisingly, given my keen interest in psychology. Good Morning, Monster (out fall 2020 from St. Martin’s Press) by Catherine Gildiner is a transformative book, full of insights into the human character. The subject matter is dark, yet the book itself is imbued with hope. Good Morning, Monster contains the stories of five people who seek out therapy because of traumas they’ve endured. This is one of the rare books that actually changes you, the reader. I can’t stop thinking about it.

If you could invite five people (dead or alive) to a dinner party, who would they be and why?

We’d invite Reese Witherspoon, who has done so much to spread the joy of reading, and Truman Capote (Sarah’s favorite author), as well as Kate McKinnon to add some ribald humor. Rounding out our table would be therapist Esther Perel – who has written several great books and hosts a terrific podcast, “Where Should We Begin,” that features the struggles of real couples. Our final seat would be reserved for the magnificent Michelle Obama.

Your books are very collaborative in that you talk through every line, rather than alternating chapters. Does this end up in wild disagreements or are you generally on the same page?

GREER & SARAH: Unlike most co-authors who alternate chapters or take on different characters, we write every single line together. As we said earlier, we work from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on a shared Google doc via Google hangouts, talking through our stories, creating new scenes and editing what we have already written. People always want to know if we argue! The majority of the time our editorial instincts are remarkably in sync. Sure, occasionally we disagree, but our feeling is that if something isn’t working for one of us, it’s not working for the other one. When we have creative differences, we take the space to talk it out in a positive manner, and we both feel our books are the better for it.

How do you both brainstorm new ideas together?

GREER & SARAH: We talk and talk and talk – constantly saying “What if?” We love to bounce ideas back and forth, building upon an idea and seeing how far we can push it. We also frequently text and email snippets of inspiration – such as newspaper articles, blogs, and photographs. By this point, we communicate in a kind of shorthand, so while our texts might be indecipherable to others, but they make sense to us.

Writing You Are Not Alone

Let’s talk about your new book. Can you tell my readers a little about it?

It’s best to go into our novels without knowing too much about them – we love to shock readers with twist after twist – but here’s a brief description:

Shay Miller wants to find love, but it eludes her. She wants to be fulfilled, but her job is a dead end. She wants to belong, but her life is increasingly lonely.

Until Shay meets the Moore sisters. Cassandra and Jane live a life of glamorous perfection, and always get what they desire. When they invite Shay into their circle, everything seems to get better.

Shay would die for them to like her.

She may have to.

Where did you come up with the idea for You Are Not Alone?

We knew from the outset we wanted to have our main character be obsessed with data and that it would be this fascination that would help save her. For many months we didn’t even have a name for her – we simply referred to her as “Data Girl”. We also knew we wanted to have our protagonist become entangled with mysterious sisters. Other than that, the setting, the plot, and even the themes greatly evolved from our first draft to the final book.

Describe You Are Not Alone in three words.

Thought-provoking. Unique. Shocking.

What actresses would you cast to play Shay?

Shailene Woodley from Big Little Lies, The Fault in our Stars and The Divergent Series. She possesses strength and vulnerability, like Shay.

Was the ending planned from the beginning or did it evolve as you wrote it? Are you a plotter or a pantser?

We often think we have a perfect ending, but then it evolves. In the case of You Are Not Alone, it did more than just evolve – it radically changed. We re-wrote sections of the manuscript many times, and the ending surprised even us! But once we had it, we knew it was the perfect way to conclude this story. We hope our readers agree!

What do you think readers will love about You Are Not Alone?

Like our other books, The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl, we feature an ordinary woman, Shay, who has to find the inner strength to overcome unusual adversity. We’ve heard from a lot of people that many stories exist about the perfect husband, the perfect nanny, or the perfect job that becomes deadly, but this is the first time they’ve read about the perfect friends in that dangerous role. Readers also seem to be responding to the interesting data nuggets we have layered throughout the book, and to the many twists woven throughout our plot.

I loved how you took one character flaw and pushed it so it became so central to the novel. Shay is incredibly lonely, and you can feel that right from the first pages. It leads her deep into the story. Was that intended from the beginning?

Definitely. People are more connected than ever these days, yet also more isolated, and this is due to social media and technology. We wanted to explore the theme of loneliness and the yearning to belong, and although many parts of our novel changed during the process (including Shay’s name!) this element remained much as we originally intended.

You both have such a gift for creating compelling characters and winding through psychological elements, and this is so apparent in You Are Not Alone. How do you build characters that are so easily identifiable?

Thank you! Because we are both keenly interested in psychology (Greer was a psychology major in college, while Sarah majored in journalism and minored in psychology), we love dissecting characters and spend hours upon hours talking through their psychological makeup. We have to not only know, but understand what makes them tick – and we develop deep backstories with details that don’t always make it onto the page, but make our characters three-dimensional to us.

What’s next for Greer and Sarah?

Are you ladies working on a new book? Can you tell my readers a little about it, a blurb, potential release date, etc? Where did you get the idea?

We are working on our fourth psychological thriller! We can’t share much about it, because our novels change as we write them, but we can promise it will feature complicated, relatable female characters and a corkscrew plot.

I’m sure all my readers will be eager to know, are there any updates on the movie for The Wife Between Us?  Or An Anonymous Girl television series?

We just finished our second draft of the screenplay for The Wife Between Us, which has been optioned by Amblin Entertainment. We loved the creative challenge of taking our 400-page book and distilling it into a 120-page, visual medium. Amblin is very happy with the script and we are talking with them about next steps!

An Anonymous Girl has been optioned for TV, and though we are not writing it – eOne, which optioned it, hired two screenwriters to do the pilot – we are serving as executive producers. The pilot is complete, and we hope to have an exciting announcement soon!

Get In Touch

Greer and Sarah love connecting with readers. You can get in touch with them at:

GREER

Instagram | TwitterWebsite

SARAH

Instagram | TwitterWebsite | Facebook


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2 Reviews for Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

    I am super excited for this new book. The book can’t get here fast enough for me. I am amazed that you two can put such thrilling material together. Thanks Christina for this interview. So excited to read your latest book too.

    Thank you so much, Sandy! I’m so thrilled you enjoyed the interview and can’t wait for you to read Behind Every Lie! 🙂

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