You know what’s great? When a book lover, otherwise known as me, is able to interview book writers, otherwise known as authors.
I had the opportunity, thanks to Simon and Schuster, to read Sarah Pekkanen’s new book, These Girls, and to interview the her. Before thinking I’m really important and that I’m being flown all over the country to interview people, which would mean that my goal of being the next big thing had been realized, the interview was virtual, via email.
These Girls is a book for women about women It explores the complex relationships between and about them: friends, colleagues, mothers and daughters, and also their internal dialogue with themselves. Its a story about three women: Cate, Renee, and Abby, whose tales and struggles are both intertwined struggles completely separate at the same time. The novel takes place in New York and Boston, and Cate and Renee work as Editors at a popular Glossy magazine. Abby is a student and nanny, and the sister of the main love interest, Trey.
Cate: Recently promoted to Features editor at the magazine. Gorgeous, she seems like she’s got it together. But, while she is smart and talented, she got a big elephant following her around. And she doesn’t want anyone to know about it.
Renee: Stuck in a mid-level job for years, she covets the Beauty editor job that’s opened up. However, there’s a glitch: Renee is more rubenesque than model thin, and in her mind, that’s the one thing preventing her success.
Abby: Loving children and working on a Master’s in Education, Abby takes a job as a nanny to a family in Boston. Her past becomes her present as old memories start to come to the surface and Abby’s desire for a stable family causes havoc in her life.
These Girls is a beach read. It’s not particularly intellectual, yet it prompts thought and introspection.
If you liked Girls in White Dresses by Jennifer Close, you’ll really like These Girls.
1) Of all of the characters in the book, Cate seems to be struggling the least with her identity as a person, and more with keeping her secret. How purposeful was that to make her ‘secret’ the less about self-worth than the other two? What a great question (editor’s note: YAY. Sarah thinks I’m smart)– it wasn’t on purpose and I didn’t even realize it until you pointed it out! For Cate, I liked the idea that her secret was so surprising; she’s this smart, capable, driven woman who has achieved a lot of success in the world of glossy magazines. So the fact that her secret plays into the fact that she isn’t sure she really deserves the job was to me an interesting contrast. Perhaps because Cate has been identified as a rising star in the magazine world and gets a lot of outside reinforcement for that, she has fewer issues with her self-worth.
2) You’ve really explored the theme of female friendship in the book, yet you have the characters living in the cut throat world of fashion magazines. Why did you decide to put your characters in that life? Partly because I love learning – about people, occupations, other cultures – and this way I get to do research for every book. I was curious about what life was really like at a big New York City magazine. So I befriended a staff writer at one, and early one morning, she snuck me into the magazine’s office before anyone else came in. I got a great behind-the-scenes tour and a lot of good gossip!
3) Renee spirals so quickly downward. Have you witnessed that happen to someone before? Yes, but the circumstances were slightly different. I know someone with an eating disorder, and it is horrible to witness . You feel so helpless when someone you care about is in the grip of such ferocious self-destruction.
4) This question was removed because it contained spoilers, and Sarah didn’t want me to ruin the story for anyone. If you’d like the story ruined, just leave me a comment, and I’ll send you the question and answer.
5) Abby’s past started to affect her present when it came to the car and the toddler. How did the affair with her boss fit in? Was she seeking love, a family, or a father figure? I think Abby really wanted to be part of a family. She sought it out in the wrong place – but eventually found it with her girlfriends. For everyone who has a destructive or unhealthy family, it’s so important to establish a new family that’s full of supportive friends.
6) All of the characters had specific issues with their parents, and most particularly their mothers. What types of connections were you hoping to make? I think that women’s relationships with their mothers can be very complicated. There are so many threads running through them – love, annoyance, responsibility, affection – and there can be old hurts, too. As women get older, their relationships with their mothers often shift and they become the caretakers or the ones who give advice, and I really wanted to explore that theme. Of course, Abby has a terribly destructive mother, and unfortunately, those do exist in the real world, too.
7) The usual question: Are any of the characters autobiographical, or based on people that you know? I swear they’re not, although I can’t tell you how many times people have thought I’ve based a character on them! I always say that my thoughts and experiences and observations of other people do make it onto my written pages – but they’re filtered through a kaleidoscope first – so they don’t resemble reality.
Sarah loves to talk to her readers, and especially likes social media (blogging and twitter have a starring role in the novel)
You can find her on Twitter : @sarahpekkanen
and on Facebook: Sarah Pekkanen
Sarah’s website: http://www.sarahpekkanen.com/
More from Simon & Schuster about the book: http://books.simonandschuster.ca/These-Girls/Sarah-Pekkanen/9781451612547