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Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen on Friendship & Co-writing
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2019
Contributor
Written by
She Writes
January 2019

The Wife Between Us became an instant bestseller upon its release last January. Throughout the year it went on to become an Indie Next Pick and was chosen among Glamour Magazine's Best Books of 2018. Yet, along with its resounding praise for a gripping plot and fascinating characters, is something we are celebrating with equal enthusiasm – the friendship and commendable collaboration process between its two authors: Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen.

The pair recently sat down at Politics and Prose and spoke about their experience, starting from the beginning. According to Hendricks, their author-editor relationship began in 2010 when Hendricks edited Pekkanen's debut novel, The Opposite of Me. There, it grew as she continued to work on Pekkanen’s next six novels along with a host of other notable projects with well-known authors. But when she chose to leave the publishing company and try writing for herself, it was Pekkanen in which she confided.

It was then that the first idea was sparked.

"When Sarah approached me about writing together, I initially worried it would be copping out to work with someone else," Hendricks explains, "that it would be less of an accomplishment." But the former editor called Pekkanen 12 hours later and said, "Let's do it!"

"I realized it would be crazy to turn down this opportunity," Hendricks says. "While I had published a few personal essays and edited hundreds of books, I knew I had a lot to learn about writing an actual novel."

This excerpt was originally published on Publisher’s Weekly. Read the full interview here.

On Their Approach

"We both studied journalism and psychology, which makes us curious students of human nature," Hendricks says. "In The Wife Between Us, we wanted to explore how memories are colored by the lenses through which we view our worlds, and how people can share an experience but carry away markedly different perspectives and emotions."

This excerpt was originally published on Publisher’s Weekly. Read the full interview here.

On Their Process

“We knew early on that we wanted to write a psychological thriller, and that was a shift for both of us,” Pekkanen said at a gathering at Politics and Prose. “I had written seven novels that were considered women’s fiction, and that’s primarily what Greer had edited. It was a great twist of fate that we both wanted to write a psychological thriller. The trick then became the logistics: she’s in New York, I’m in D.C.”

Unlike many writing partners, who take on alternating chapters or different characters, Hendricks and Pekkanen wrote every page as a team.

"The third partner in our collaboration is Google Docs and Hangouts," Hendricks says. "These tools let us write our manuscripts together in real time while we simultaneously talk." They would also convene in a hotel room in either Manhattan or D.C. each month during the writing process for a 36-hour stretch. There they would "Homeland the walls" with Post-it notes. "I like the walls to be as messy as possible," Pekkanen says. "Greer prefers them to be neatly organized."

"We often joke that we have one mind," Pekkanen says. "It's not unusual for us to come up with an identical thought or word choice at the exact same time."

This excerpt was originally published on Publishers Weekly. Read the full interview here.

On Writing with a Partner

“Writing alone is so solitary," says Pekkanen. “You’re in your head a lot, and that’s it – there’s no interaction, it’s all very internal. But the biggest challenge for me in making the transition is that it is all very internal, where as Greer as an editor is used to articulating her thoughts. So, when we would write, we had our Google Doc, we each had a screen, and I would get quiet and start typing, and Greer would start talking, and I’d be like, ‘Why are you talking? We’re writing, what’s happening?’” And the same thing happened for Hendricks, who was new to the process. Together, the two came up with a seamless shorthand-like way of speaking that was less disruptive.

The excerpt above was from a speaking event at Politics and Prose. Watch the full event here.

The pair are currently collaborating on a second phycological thriller.

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