Midwest Ladies: Where did you get the inspiration for The Perfect Neighbors? Did you draw from any personal experience?
Sarah Pekkanen: None of my novels are based on my personal experience – after seven books, I would have lived a very eventful life if that were so! But I carry a notebook with me wherever I go (I have them in my purse, my car, on my nightstand, etc) and I write down fragments of ideas, snippets of current events, random thoughts, bits of overheard dialogue… and somehow, over time, these disparate threads form the fabric of a book.
MWL: The women of TPN are uniquely different, and each hold their own secret. How did you come up with their secrets and did you find that you tailored the characters to their secret or vice versa?
SP: I always come up with my characters first. I need to be able to see my characters in my mind – it’s more than knowing how they look and sound. I have to know details about them, like what kind of car they drive and what secretly scares them. Once I’m familiar with my characters, I explore the issues they are grappling with.
MWL: What is your favorite part of being an author?
SP: My favorite part, hands down, is connecting with readers. It’s still incredible to me that people take the time to read my words, and that they feel a connection to my characters. I cannot believe this is my full-time job. As far as the writing process goes, rewriting is the best part for me. Once I’ve laid down the foundations of ideas, getting to go over each sentence and smooth it and decorate it is a highly enjoyable part of the process.
MWL: What other writers inspire you?
SP: Jennifer Weiner has long inspired me, not only because she’s a gorgeous writer, but because she is such a fierce and generous advocate for all female authors.
MWL: Do you have any interesting writing quirks?
SP: I talk to myself when I write! I often don’t realize it, but when I’m in a coffeeshop with my laptop, I get strange looks.
MWL: Do you have any projects in the works that you can tell us about?
SP: I’m always writing – but I’m a little superstitious about talking about a book during the process because I worry I’ll jinx it!
MWL: You’re one of our favorite authors not only because of your writing, but because of your interaction with your fans. What is it that you love about your fans and your interactions?
SP: Thank you! I’m so grateful to the readers who take the time to interact with me on social media or drive long distances to my book signings. Meeting them during the midst of a tiring book tour gives me so much energy, and I love answering their questions and sharing pieces of my writing life with them. A number of readers have become true friends, as well, which has been a wonderful surprise.
MWL: Are you okay with us posting one of our bathtub pics?
SP: Oh, you have to post a bathtub photo – hilarious!!!
Go find Sarah and follow along!