One of the hottest writing teams these days has launched a thriller onto the best seller lists. The team is composed of Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekannen, and their book is The Wife Between Us.
The titular wife in question is a younger version of the first wife, and we see the story unfold through multiple viewpoints. But how do Hendricks (who spent more than two decades as a book editor before joining the team) and Pekannen (best-selling author of seven previous novels) make it work?
We asked them to describe how they work together, each in their own voice:
Sarah: While working together on seven novels, which I wrote and Greer edited, we developed a unique relationship. Not only do we share strikingly similar narrative instincts and approaches to storytelling, but we get along beautifully. We’re also the same age, we’re terrible cooks, we played field hockey in high school, and we have brothers we adore (both named Robert!).
Greer: We also both studied journalism and psychology, which makes us curious students of human nature. Then, when I left corporate publishing, we discovered we had something else in common: We were both itching to write a psychological page-turner - one as twisty, complex, and fresh as possible. We are both drawn to strong, complicated female protagonists. There are rules to standard thrillers and mysteries, but since neither of us had written one, we didn't know what the rules were - or that we would end up breaking them.
Sarah: When we brainstormed the idea for 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. We spoke for hours prior to each writing session, creating and rejecting and fine-tuning ideas. At this point, we often joke that we have one mind. It’s not unusual for us to come up with the identical thought or word choice at the exact same time.
Greer: Unlike most writing duos -who take on alternating chapters or different characters - we write every line together. This is a bit of a challenge since I live in New York City and Sarah just outside of Washington, D.C. The third partner in our collaboration is Google Docs and Hangout. These tools let us write our manuscripts in real time while we simultaneously talk. We also visit each others’ cities to plot every month or so. We camp out in a hotel room for a 36-hour stretch and “Homeland” the walls with giant Post-It notes.
Sarah: One difference: I likes the walls to be as messy as possible; Greer prefers them to be neatly organized! On one occasion, we forgot to remove the Post-Its before we checked out. That poor maid! I don’t know what she was thinking when she came in, because there was some crazy stuff written on them!