Monday, June 18, 2018
Books

Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks talk teaming up for ‘The Wife Between Us’

Nightstand

Sarah Pekkanen
and Greer Hendricks

Pekkanen and Hendricks met when Hendricks, who worked for Simon & Schuster for more than 20 years, bought Pekkanen’s first novel, The Opposite of Me. Pekkanen wrote six more books with Hendricks as her editor, and their friendship grew. When Hendricks left her post in 2014, the pair became writing partners. The result is The Wife Between Us, an intense domestic thriller with several surprising twists. Released in January, the book soared to the top of the bestseller lists, and movie rights were sold to Steven Spielberg’s production company, Amblin Partners. On Jan. 24, we caught up with the women, both 50, by phone. Pekkanen was in Chevy Chase, Md., and Hendricks was in her Manhattan apartment.

What’s on your nightstand?

Hendricks: My nightstand is like that unstable Jenga game. There are many books there, but since we’ve been promoting our book, and we are also trying to finish a second one, I haven’t been reading as much as I would like. So, what I am reading is Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward and Ester Perel’s The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity. The second one is for research. I am only starting both.

Pekkanen: One of the perks, when you get published, is getting advance copies of books, so I’m reading the (advanced review copy) of Kristen Hannah’s The Great Alone. It’s about a family that moves to Alaska in 1974. The characters are wonderful, and it just feels like this grand, sweeping book. It transports me to this place where a 12-year-old girl learns how to shoot because there might be a bear by the outhouse. I’m in the middle of that one.

So neither of you want to read thrillers as you write them?

Pekkanen: I think we both read a lot of thrillers in general, but we are kind of quirky when we are writing. We don’t want voices of other thriller writers in our head. But I read all of Harlan Coben, Karin Slaughter.

Hendricks: Yes, and also Stephen King and Gillian Flynn.

Do you two recommend books to each other?

Pekkanen: All the time, books, podcasts, magazine articles. We are constantly texting and emailing. It’s like a patchwork quilt.

Can you describe your relationship before you started this project?

Hendricks: We had worked on seven books together when I was Sarah’s editor, and over the course of our time working as editor-author, we discovered we had a number of uncanny similarities. Everything from playing field hockey in college, both studying psychology and journalism to being exactly the same age, to both having brothers we were close to and they were both named Robert. We did have all these overlaps. When I left Simon & Schuster, I didn’t tell many people what I wanted to do, write a book, but I did confess to Sarah. Writing this book has brought us even closer.

How did you collaborate?

Pekkanen: We knew immediately we wanted to write every line together, and part of it was because we wanted to challenge ourselves. We wanted something twisty and complicated. And because we refined it as we went, constantly layering and adding ideas, we really had to write every line together because the book kept changing.

Contact Piper Castillo at
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