It all started about a year ago, on Facebook. I developed a serious crush. Not on a man, not on a celebrity, but on a woman. Now before you start thinking this blog post is gonna get all X-rated, take a deep breath. I’m talking about a “writer crush”—the kind I (rarely) get when I’m completely smitten with someone’s way with words. And that’s what happened with the amazingly talented and fabulous author of The Opposite of Me, Sarah Pekkanen.
I think as the story goes, I friended Sarah. Having resisted Facebook for a long time, I finally went to the dark side and joined after my writing partner, Liz, insisted it would be a fabulous networking opportunity (and way to spy on old boyfriends). And Sarah was one of the first connections I made. From the beginning, we bantered easily about our writing journeys and she became a mentor to me and to Liz. At that time, Sarah's book, The Opposite of Me—more on her fantastic novel in a minute—wasn’t yet published; the drop date was still a year away. So, at first, the only writing of hers that I could read consisted mostly of her hilarious and enviable status reports and her regular, equally funny and enlightening features at The Debutante Ball (a group blog for debut authors). But, finally, I got my mitts on her book. I was lucky enough to get an advanced copy and to say I devoured it in only a day and a half is an understatement. From word one, sentence one, page one, I could not put it down. Her hilarious writing, relatable characters and unexpected plot twists hooked me and, even more importantly, kept me hooked. (In a nutshell, the story is about 29-year-old fraternal twin sisters who are absolutely nothing alike—or so they think!)
Sarah took some time out of her busy book tour to answer some questions. So without further ado...Sarah Pekkanen!
Lisa Steinke: How long did it take you to write The Opposite of Me and what was hard/fun about writing your first book?
Sarah Pekkanen: It took about nine months. For me the hardest part is the middle, or the muddle, as some writers would call it. The most fun for me was diving into the world of sisterhood. It was completely imaginary because I only have brothers, but I’ve always been fascinated by the rich, complex relationships my friends have with their sisters. I wanted to make the relationship of my characters, Lindsey and Alex, as complicated and messy and competitive and loving and funny as possible!
LS: What inspired you to write the story?
SP: I'm intrigued by the notion of identity. How is it that we get assigned certain roles in our family—like the drama queen, the smart one, the funny one, the pretty one, even if those roles aren't exactly right? I spun that idea around in my head for awhile and it eventually turned into the plot of my book.
LS: What is the secret life of Sarah Pekkanen?
SP: I'm obsessed with chocolate, but that's hardly a secret, since I'm constantly asking my friends if they have any in their purses and gobbling down old M&Ms I find under my kids' car seats. My secret is that I probably watch more Reality TV than is good for me.
LS: Describe your writing habits—where do you write?
SP: I work anywhere and everywhere —Starbucks, my bed, the couch, my car, Chuck E. Cheese (seriously! I used to work in a loud newsroom and I can tune out background noise). Whenever I can find a snatch of time to write, I grab it!
LS: Who are your favorite authors that inspire you?
SP: Jennifer Weiner is such an amazing storyteller, and I love the humor in her novels. I've been hooked on her since Good In Bed and In Her Shoes. When I learned that Jennifer's editor wanted to buy my book, I nearly fainted! Emily Giffin is also fantastic—just compulsively readable. And Marian Keyes is so hysterically funny, she makes me feel giddy.
LS: I have (Facebook) status-report envy. You always have such funny encounters. So…tell me the truth: Do all those things REALLY happen to you?
SP: What a nice question! Yes, those things all really happen—I've got three young boys, a big hairy dog who thinks she's a baby, and the world's dirtiest minivan. Chaos rules around here!
Kudos to Sarah Pekannen for writing such an out-of-the-gates fantastic book as a debut author. People Magazine just gave her book 3.5 out of 4 stars, and if you haven't already heard, Jennifer Weiner has taken Sarah under her wing. She's an author to keep following and to keep reading. As a sidenote, fan her on Facebook because you’ll LOL every day.
Have you read The Opposite of Me yet?
Lisa Steinke, along with her best friend Liz Fenton, co-authored the chick lit novel I’ll Have Who She’s Having and co-created the popular Chick Lit blog, Chick Lit is Not Dead.