The Divining Wand

Discovering authors beyond their pages…

Sarah Pekkanen: Why I Write

April 10, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Guest Posts

[Considered one of Atria Books’ rising stars, internationally bestselling author Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping a Beat and The Opposite of Me) promises to add to her success with a third novel, These Girls, releasing today in bookstores and online retailers.

There are fortunate individual born knowing what they want in life and having the talent to do just that. In today’s guest post, Sarah explains that’s why she write.]

Why I Write

I write because, even though it can be frustrating and ego-crushing and difficult, not writing would be so much worse. I write because it can be magical and uplifting and nurturing, too. I write because it’s what I’ve wanted to do ever since I was a little girl.

Writing has always been a part of my life, except for one dark period in my early thirties. My husband and I had two young boys by then, and I’d left my job as a features writer for The Baltimore Sun newspaper to stay home with them. I’d imagined I’d be able to free-lance for the paper, but the type of stories I did for The Sun – like racing to catch a plane the day of the Columbine school shootings, and locating and interviewing a boy who transformed from the class clown into an unlikely hero who saved dozens of lives – had suddenly become impossible for me to cover. I felt completely adrift; I’ve often described the sensation as similar to discovering my best friend had moved away without leaving a forwarding address or phone number.

Then one night, I began to type fiction. The words poured out of me, like water gushing from a garden hose once a kink in its middle is untangled. I wrote and wrote and wrote, and discovered something incredible: As much as I’d loved being a reporter, I enjoyed fiction even more.

Nowadays, if I’m away from my laptop too long, I feel itchy. I write a novel every year, along with a short story, newspaper reviews and articles, and a regular magazine column. There’s rarely a day when I’m not writing. It’s completely addictive: the more I write, the more I want to write. The thing that thrills me the most about writing fiction is that there’s always room for improvement – I can toil away at this craft for decades, and still have so much room to learn and grow.

I also write because it connects me to people. I adore going on Facebook, and interacting with readers and learning about their lives. I love popping onto Twitter and exchanging jokes with folks I’ve never met. And I love being able to interview real people about their jobs and lives, then weave those details into my novels. For example, for THESE GIRLS, a magazine staffer snuck me into the New York headquarters of a glossy women’s magazine and gave me a behind-the-scenes tour that was fascinating. Much of what I observed that day made it into THESE GIRLS.

I write because I’m lucky enough to have found the job of my dreams, and I can’t ever imagine letting it go!

* * * * *

Family secrets may shape us all, but it’s the rich, complicated layers of friendship that can save us.

That one sentence describes Sarah Pekkanen’s most compelling, true-to-life novel yet tells the story of three very different women as they navigate the complications of careers and love—and find the lifeline they need in each other.

And critics praise:

“A fun and engaging romp…Pekkanen’s authorial voice is sweetly snappy, the plot is character-driven, and the book ends satisfactorily without tying up every loose end. Fans of Sophie Kinsella and Jennifer Close will enjoy this refreshingly introspective, sharply realistic, and tenderly humorous novel.” —Booklist

“Pekkanen’s characters are sympathetic and familiar, and readers are likely to identify with aspects of each protagonist. Fans of Jennifer Weiner, Sarah Dessen, Liza Palmer, and Emily Giffin will strongly appreciate this smart novel by a rising star in women’s fiction.” —Library Journal

Now “picture the book” as the author talks to six sets of best friends about the healing power of female friendships.

(If the video doesn’t appear on your monitor, please view it here.)

Sarah loves social media and can be followed on Twitter and friend(ed) on Facebook. And for your reading enjoyment, These Girls is available right now!

Book Giveaway: The Divining Wand is giving away one copy of These Girls by Sarah Pekkanen — in a random drawing — to anyone who leaves a comment on this post by 11:59 p.m. EDT tonight! The winner will be notified by email tomorrow.

The Beginning of Spring’s Coming Attractions

April 05, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Advance News

Next week spring releases begin to bloom with two favorite authors.

Tuesday, April 10th: Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping a Beat and The Opposite of Me) and her third novel, These Girls appear here to be followed by….

Wednesday, April 11th: Allison Winn Scotch (The One That I Want, Time of My Life, and The Department of Lost and Found) will be at TDW on the eve of publication for The Song Remains the Same.

Watch for both guest appearances and the Book Giveaways.

Happy Holiday Weekend!

Sarah Pekkanen Interviewed By Jodi Picoult

March 06, 2012 By: larramiefg Category: Interviews

[With the hope of offering something different to The Divining Wand, today’s post was submitted by Sarah Pekkanen (Skipping a Beat and The Opposite of Me) whose third novel, These Girls releases on Tuesday, April 10, 2012.

Being interviewed by NYT Bestselling author, Jodi Picoult, (most recent, LONE WOLF), was not only a thrill for Sarah, it also delves beyond a fellow author’s blurb of praise.]

Jodi Picoult interviews Sarah Pekkanen
about writing, motherhood, and the magic of female friendships…

Jodi: These Girls explores the nuances of female friendships. How hard was it to create a sense of realism between your main characters – Cate, Renee, and Abby – and how much of that came from your own personal experience in your relationships with female friends?

Sarah: Female friendships are vitally important to me, which is why I dedicated These Girls to my girlfriends, especially one I call my “frister” (a friend who turned into a sister). I’m surrounded by wonderful guys – I have two brothers and three sons – and I adore them. But female friendships nurture and uplift me, and I find them so textured and fascinating, which is why I’m drawn to writing about them. I love it that my girlfriends and I – often aided by a bottle or two of wine – can hopscotch from serious to silly to painful topics during the course of a single conversation, and end the night feeling as if we could’ve talked forever. I drew on all of those emotions while writing These Girls.

Jodi: Your main characters in this book come to reevaluate what’s important in life as they navigate the complications of careers and love. As someone with three young children, and who has enjoyed a bit of success now as a novelist, how do you prioritize what’s important in life? Has this changed as you’ve grown older?

Sarah: I knew I wanted to be a writer from the time I was a little girl. After college, I covered feature stories for The Baltimore Sun newspaper, but when my first son was born, I left that job because it required a long commute and frequent travel. And when I suddenly stopped writing, I felt as if I’d lost a crucial piece of myself. But I couldn’t figure out how to reconcile my need to write with my need to be with my children. Then one night after the kids were asleep (by then I had two young boys), I sat down in front of on my computer and began to type. The words poured out of me, and turned into my first novel, The Opposite of Me. I never forget for a moment how lucky I am to have a flexible job that I adore, and it’s fairly easy for me to work in writing time around my kids’ schedules. My family is my priority, but I know I’m a happier – and better – Mom when I’m writing, too.

Jodi: As someone who has twists in books all the time, I get asked about my endings a lot. These Girls, too, has quite a surprise in store for the reader. Did you know it would end this way before you started writing the book, or did that evolve?

Sarah: I love books that contain twists (which is one reason why I’m a big Jodi P. fan!), and I knew even before I wrote the first line of These Girls that it, like my previous two novels, would pack a big surprise at the end. I read a lot of thrillers and mysteries and sometimes I even deconstruct them, studying how an author put together pieces of the puzzle and used tension-building techniques like foreshadowing. It’s my hope that readers feel as if my books have the same page-turning quality as a thriller – but with less blood and mayhem, of course!

Jodi: What advice would you give to someone who is trying to break into writing as a career?

Sarah: Treat writing like exercise – you need to do it nearly every day to get results. For people who say they’re too busy to write a book, I’d encourage them to search for little windows of time in their day. Maybe wake up half an hour earlier than usual, or carry around a notebook and write a few paragraphs on the bus ride into work. Jodi, I remember that you and I once chatted about how we both wrote in car-pool pick-up lines outside of our kids’ schools because it was one of the few quiet times we could carve out of the day. I’d advise other writers to fight for those little snippets of time, and the page count will pile up, slowly but surely.

Jodi: What is the most bizarre fan encounter you’ve ever had?

Sarah: I love that you asked me this question, because it was the very first question I ever asked you! Years ago, I was writing a newspaper article on strange things that happen to big-name authors at booksignings, and you told me about the time someone asked if you’d ever consider writing non-fiction. You replied that it seemed daunting because one had to be meticulous about getting every single fact straight… and then you brought up James Frey, who got into trouble for making up parts of his memoir A Million Little Pieces. And a few minutes later, the librarian in charge of your booksigning brought over two audience members to meet you: James Frey’s parents. This was during the time when Oprah was eviscerating him, but you merely brought up his situation as an example and didn’t pass judgment or make a joke. I thought it was very classy, and even his parents weren’t bothered by your comment, which says a lot.

So… as for my most bizarre fan encounter, I’d have to say it was the time when my husband and I took our three kids out to dinner at a busy restaurant. One of our sons was very tired and cranky – we later learned he hadn’t eaten lunch at school that day – and while we were waiting for a table, he completely melted down, crying and whining. We quickly left, and then my two-year-old tripped and fell on the sidewalk and he started crying too. So there we were, this hot mess of a family, and suddenly a woman stopped and pointed at me and yelled, “Aren’t you Sarah Pekkanen? I love your writing!” And that remains, to this day, the first and only time I have ever been recognized in public. (And I’m still kicking myself for not answering, “No! I’m J.K. Rowling!”)

“Sarah Pekkanen’s latest celebrates the healing power of female friendship for three very different young women sharing a NYC apartment. At turns bittersweet, laugh-out-loud funny, and painfully real, you’ll wish you could move in with these girls.” —

Jodi Picoult, NYT Bestselling author of LONE WOLF and SING YOU HOME.

* * * * *

Announcement: The winner of Rachel Bertsche’s MWF Seeking BFF is: Kim W.. Congratulations! Please email diviningwand (at) gmail (dot) com with your mailing address and the book will be sent out promptly.