Monday, January 24, 2011

Guest Blogger Tiernan McKay Shares Her Q&A With Author Sarah Pekkanen

Sarah Pekkanen's work has been published in People, The Washington Post, USA Today, The New Republic, The Baltimore Sun, Reader's Digest, and Washingtonian, among others. She writes a monthly Erma Bombeck type column for Bethesda Magazine, and has been an on-air contributor to NPR and E! Entertainment's "Gossip Show." She is the winner of a Dateline award and the Paul Miller Reporting Fellowship. Sarah lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland with her husband and three young sons.

Not long ago, I was sitting in the Charlotte airport, en route to Gainesville, desperate for sleep after a very uncomfortable red eye from Denver. My exhausted body was telling me to curl up under a bench, pull my sweater over my head and sleep for a precious few minutes. But my restless mind wouldn't allow it. I only had one more chapter left in Sarah Pekkanen's new book, Skipping a Beat and I had to finish before I could ever think about sleeping.

I found this follow-up to Pekkanen's first novel, The Opposite of Me, to be realistic, emotional and completely irresistible. I recently caught up with Pekkanen for an insightful Q&A.

TM: Describe some of the emotions you felt birthing this book after the great success of The Opposite of Me.

SP: A number of readers have asked if this book is a sequel to The Opposite of Me but it isn't - the storyline and characters are new. Yet there are some similarities. In both books, I wrote about women who are faced with a sudden choice: Stay in their current lives or move into an entirely new sort of life? Julia Dunhill, the protagonist of Skipping a Beat, must make that decision after her husband has a near-death experience and wants to change everything about their marriage. She has three weeks to decide whether to stay with him, or leave.

For me personally, there's a jumble of emotions as this book goes out into the world. I'm excited, nervous and hopeful. So many readers and book bloggers greeted The Opposite of Me warmly, and I hope they feel the same way about
Skipping a Beat!

TM: I love how you touch on the difficulty of marriage in such a realistic way. The tension isn't over dramatic...its believable and honest. How are you hoping readers will respond to this relationship?

SP: Thank you! I wanted to show the complexity of a marriage by having Julia look back at the moments, both big and small, that shaped her relationship with her husband Michael. As she decides whether to move forward with him, she needs to look back. So I wove in scenes from their past to show how complicated their life together has become, and to reveal why Julia feels so conflicted. But there are two sides to every story - so even though everything is unfolding from Julia's point of view, it's not necessarily the complete picture. She, like readers of the book, discovers how much more there is to the story of her marriage.

TM: Some of the messages I love: The brevity of life and the power of perspective. Can you briefly speak to each?

SP: Having young children makes me realize that life is short; all the cliches about how quickly they grow are cliches for a reason - they're true. I hope it doesn't sound sappy, but at a time when there are so many competing demands for our attention, and so many external stressors in life, I try to remind myself that love is the most important thing in this world.
For me, perspective is fluid. It changes based on new information - and I wanted to convey that through Julia's story. She thought she knew her husband better than anyone; she had the story of their marriage engraved in her own mind. But everything changed for her during the three weeks encompassed by my book.

Sarah loves connecting with her readers on Facebook, where she does frequent book giveaways, so find her there or at Skipping a Beat will be available in February. Enjoy!


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Loved the Opposite of Me so I look forward to this book. Thanks for the insight.