Sarah Pekkanen’s not just an internationally best-selling author (her most recent and fourth book, The Best of Us, has been hailed by everyone from Publisher’s Weekly to People), but she’s also a wife and mother of three. So how does she do it all? Pekkanen chats with the SheKnows Book Lounge about how she juggles it all and still comes out on top.
SheKnows: Tweet us a blurb of your novel (in 140 characters or less of course!)
Sarah Pakkanen: Jamaica, a private villa, beaches, a hurricane — for a group of college friends, this is one unforgettable vacation! #THEBESTOFUS
SK: How did you think of the idea for The Best of Us?
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.
SK: You’ve written about the powerful bond of female friendships before — but this time you added a male friend into the mix. Why?
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.
SK: Your book takes place in Jamaica. Do you have any “exotic” vacations of your own planned this year?
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.
SKs: As a mom, wife and full-time author, how do you find time to “do it all”? In terms of balance, have you learned anything from the last book to this one?
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.
SK: What are you reading now?
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.
SK: Are you working on your next novel? What can you tell us about it?
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.