DYNAMIC DUO Sarah Pekkanen, an author (inset, top), and Greer Hendricks, an editor, worked together on seven books before they decided to write one as a team. This week, their third thriller, “You Are Not Alone,” lands at No. 7 on the hardcover fiction list.
In the old days, the two were astonished by all they had in common. Hendricks says: “We both studied psychology and journalism. We’re both terrible cooks. We’re both close to our brothers, who are both named Robert. We’d always order the same food when we went out to eat. We’d show up dressed alike.”
In 2015, when Hendricks left Simon & Schuster after 20 years, Pekkanen went to her with a proposal: “I said, ‘Let’s write a book together! Why not?’ It was just this instinctual reaction because we were so close and our narrative instincts are so similar.”
Hendricks responded with a literary prenup: Either author could back out at any time if the partnership wasn’t working. She says: “We both went to our shelves and pulled down our favorite books from the past two years. Unsurprisingly, there was a lot of overlap: S. J. Watson’s “Before I Go to Sleep,” and “Gone Girl”, and a lot by Liane Moriarty. We realized these books had strong female protagonists and were psychological in nature. So there was our launching point.”
Their first two books, “The Wife Between Us” and “An Anonymous Girl,” became best sellers; “Wife,” as Hendricks and Pekkanen call it, is now being made into a movie. (They collaborated on the script after searching the internet for guidance on how to write a screenplay.)
As for the logistics of working together from remote locations — Hendricks from Manhattan and Pekkanen from Chevy Chase, Md. — the co-authors make it sound blissfully copacetic. Pekkanen says: “We write every single line together. We’ve created this system where we’re looking at the same document and typing at the same time while simultaneously talking over Google Hangout. It’s a one-brain, mind-meld process that you almost have to see to believe.”
Their motto, “Better together,” seems to resonate with fans (“We remind readers of themselves with their best friend,” Pekkanen says) and it also applies to being on a book tour together. Hendricks says, “We look after each other like a happily married couple.”