Sarah Pakkanen: Jamaica, a private villa, beaches, a hurricane — for a group of college friends, this is one unforgettable vacation! #THEBESTOFUS
SP: I was feeling overwhelmed, tired and busy — probably every single woman reading this can relate, right? — and the image of a dream vacation popped into my mind. I thought about the necessary ingredients for my personal nirvana — a private villa in Jamaica, a chef, massages on the beach, late nights of dancing — and felt a great longing to write a novel in that setting. Of course, I couldn't just let my characters lounge around and drink fruity rum concoctions. I had to give each main character a big secret — and create a hurricane that was bearing down on the island.
SP: Although The Best of Us is told from the points of view of the four women on the trip, the husbands all play significant roles, and one in particular — Dwight — has complicated histories with all of the women. They're friends, yes, but it isn't quite that simple... It's interesting to me because exes can turn into good friends — or they can stir up a lot of trouble. It depends on whether romantic feelings have been resolved on both sides.
SP: Hmm... well, does Hershey Park, Pennsylvania, count? We have three young boys, so our vacations are generally more family-friendly than exotic, but we love them still and Hershey Park is one of our favorite places. The kids ride roller coasters, and I gorge myself on chocolate. Win-win!
One of the most exotic things I do is right around deadline time for my novel, when I check into a nice hotel for 24 hours, put on my pajamas, order room service, and write like crazy. It's my favorite pre-publication ritual, and even though I'm working, I come away relaxed and refreshed.
SP: I definitely don't do it all. No one can, and if we try, we'll make ourselves all wild-eyed and crazy and over-caffeinated. I focus on my children, and then my job — and everything else takes a very distant backseat. My car is messy, I never shop for clothes (which you'd realize if you saw me in person), I don't have a lot of hobbies other than reading and I'm a terrible cook so I only make very simple things that don't take a lot of time. Like most women, I'm pretty good at multitasking, so I do things like take the dog for a walk (which also counts as exercise for me) while returning calls on my cell phone.
SP: I usually read four or five books at a time, for some odd reason. I love all genres — thrillers, women's fiction, young adult, nonfiction. Right now, I've got Sarah Dessen's latest book on my Kindle, and I'm reading Harlan Coben's new book in hardback.
SP: Yes, I'm constantly working on the next novel, because I have a new one coming out every spring! I love exploring female relationships and wanted to delve into one that really interests me — the bond between sisters-in-law. So I'm writing a book about two very different women, who are married to brothers, who don't know each other well but who end up moving to Vermont to run a bed-and-breakfast together — during the snowiest winter on record for Vermont! I'm just finishing it, and it will be out in the spring of 2014.
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