Dynamic Writing Duo is back this winter with wickedly smart and compulsive psychological thriller featuring therapist-client relationships in AN ANONYMOUS GIRL


By Leslie Lindsay 

Absolutely gripping and stunning thriller that will have you frantically flipping the pages, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL is a wicked delight.

One of:

Cosmo’s “Best New Books of 2019”

Bookish’s “Must-Read Books of Winter”

An Anonymous Girl.jpg

I enjoyed the first collaboration between Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen, THE WIFE BETWEEN US (St. Martin’s Press, January 2018), but I have to say, AN ANONYMOUS GIRL (January 8 2019) is EVEN BETTER.

I was completely taken with the psychology study on ethics and morality and dove right in. And let me say, the pace of AN ANONYMOUS girl is relentless; I couldn’t put it down. There’s a beautiful dance of psychological intensity meets thriller intrigue as 28-year old Jessica Farris wriggles her way into a psychology study conducted by the mysterious–and slightly sinister–Dr. Shields. All Jessica is led to believe is that she will answer a few questions, get paid, and leave.

But there’s so much more at stake. The questions grow increasingly more invasive and personal–does Dr. Shields *know* Jessica? Could there be a secret agenda? Is something else going on? Jessica is asked to complete more demanding and challenging tasks–more than just sitting in front of a computer screen and answering questions–but going out into public where she is told what to wear, who to interact with, and so much more. It’s disturbing and completely discordant as to being ‘moral and ethical,’ the very construct Dr. Shield’s claims to be studying.

Jessica is caught in a web of deceit and jealousy and absolutely must find a way to outsmart Dr. Shields–who is always two steps ahead–or she might not survive.

Seeking women ages 18-32 to participate in a study on ethics and morality. Generous compensation. Anonymity guaranteed.

There are so many good twists and deceit in AN ANONYMOUS GIRL–in fact, I wasn’t sure *what* (or whom) to believe for a while, but definitely had my theories. The ending came a little abruptly for me, but maybe that’s just me–I didn’t care because I absolutely loved the ride. Also, this is a relatively ‘clean’ thriller–the language is spot-on, no graphic details, the ‘game’ is all in the mind, and that, for me is exactly my favorite kind of thriller.

I found the writing completely propulsive and intelligent. Although AN ANONYMOUS GIRL is a fast-paced thriller, I was awed by some darn good lines and amazing psychological insight. Read an excerpt here.

Please join me in welcoming Greer and Sarah back to the author interview series.

Leslie Lindsay:

Greer and Sarah! It’s such a pleasure to reconnect. I am completely smitten with AN ANONYMOUS GIRL. It’s smart, compulsive, gripping, and oh-so-disconcerting—so what is wrong with us?! And what inspired this particular avenue?

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen:

Thank you so much for your kind words. We love an interviewer who relishes the creepiness factor we bring to the page!

It’s tricky for us to answer exactly what inspired us because our ideas percolate over a long period of time. Every day, when we are brainstorming our plot, we throw out about a hundred suggestions…and the next day, we reject 99 of them. However, we recently realized we have four main goals for our books. We want them to be entertaining, strike an emotional chord, tell a story in a unique way and generate discussions.

In particular there are a few key elements we can point to that inspired part of the foundation of AN ANONYMOUS GIRL. We wanted to explore the therapist/client relationship. And we wanted to create a sense of intimacy for the reader, so, in addition to having Dr. Shields’ voice be in the second person, we structured the ethics and morality quiz that Jessica took in a way that allows readers to consider how they would answer the same questions. This interactive element was really appealing to us, and we’ve heard from a lot of early readers that they loved answering the ethics questions and learning how their friends or book group participants would respond.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

When I was in college, I participated in psychology studies—though never as intense (and invasive) as the kind Jess did. There’s so much psychological research that went into in AN ANONYMOUS GIRL even though it’s a thriller. Can you talk about that, please?

Sarah:

Oh my gosh – so did I! I did a bunch through NIH (the National Institutes of Health) in college to earn extra money. At first I did pretty innocuous tests, but the ones that paid the best were a little more invasive. The final one I did involved being given something that made me super groggy – I can’t remember what the test entailed, but I think I had to answer questions. My dad found out about it, and that was the end of my time as a guinea pig.

Greer:

I was a psychology major (and English minor) and my mother was a practicing psychotherapist for many years, so this is an area of keen interest for me. One of my favorite parts of working on AN ANONYMOUS GIRL was researching the psychology experiments we incorporate into the novel.

people notes meeting team
Photo by Startup Stock Photos on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Since AN ANONYMOUS GIRL is co-authored, I am so curious how you collaborate? It’s hard enough to write as a single author on one title, but…is it really true you write every sentence together? Is one you more the plotter and the other more character-driven? How do you divvy up the various pieces of a narrative?

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen:

It’s true we do write every single line together! This is why we joke that the third partner in our collaboration is Google Docs and Hangouts. These tools let us write our manuscripts in real time while we simultaneously talk. We start our days as soon as our kids get off to school and we’ve had a chance to exercise – around 9 AM – and we work through lunch, wrapping up when the kids come back home in the late afternoon. Although we do all of our plotting and writing together, we also go back into the manuscript individually – often late at night or early in the morning – to do small edits and tweaks in “suggested” mode for the other to review. We’re also constantly emailing and texting each other with ideas, articles for the other to read, photographs of what we think one of our characters might look like, etc.

Additionally, we meet at a hotel in Philly every month or so. We camp out for 48-hour stretches – working through every meal and literally not leaving the hotel – and we “Homeland” the walls with giant Post-it notes while we talk through our plot and organize the manuscript. We accomplish so much on these marathon trips, often writing 20 or 30 pages, yet we still find that there’s never enough time and we are often sprinting through 30th Street Station to make our trains home.


“Slickly twisty [with] gasp-worthy final twistsmajor league suspense.”

 —Publishers Weekly (starred review)


Leslie Lindsay:

What—if anything—did you find the most challenging in writing this one? Did you ever disagree on the direction of the story?

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen:

THE WIFE BETWEEN US and AN ANONYMOUS GIRL were challenging in different ways. In WIFE, the essence of the concept for the story came very quickly – it was a lightning bolt idea – but we also changed big chunks of the plot as we wrote, and rewrote, the manuscript. Perhaps our biggest challenge was figuring out the logistics of writing a book together, since we live in different cities. There was a learning curve to setting up our systems – we needed to become familiar with Google Docs, in order to write together in real time, and Google Hangouts, so that we could simultaneously talk and write. THE WIFE BETWEEN US also had a very complicated structure that required us to keep multiple timelines and charts, and it used every bit of our combined brain power to juggle all of the elements!

For AN ANONYMOUS GIRL, we spent months talking every day and exploring different ideas in order to pin down the story we wanted to tell. We also devoted a lot of time to working out the best way to tell it. In our early drafts, we wrote Jess and Dr. Shields’ sections in the first, second and third person in order to determine which would be the most compelling point of view for each character. We made a pact that we could not give our editor a book that did not feel as strong or stronger than our first book so we really pushed ourselves. In the end, we feel books are like kids – each is rewarding and challenging in its own way!

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Photo by Artem Saranin on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

There’s a good deal of backstory in AN ANONYMOUS GIRL, but it doesn’t distract from the present story. Do you believe our personal backstory shape our present behavior? What might be the trick to weaving in backstory without it being too ‘in-your-face?’

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen:

Absolutely, we believe personal backstory informs the way we react to events, and in a broader sense, the way individuals view the world. In our initial drafts, we tend to load backstory into the opening chapters. It’s always a challenge to let readers get a tantalizing sense of our characters without overwhelming them or veering away from the plot. That’s one reason why we love the revision process. We go back in and start pruning away and moving around different chunks of our manuscript until it flows smoothly.

Leslie Lindsay:

I understand AN ANONYMOUS GIRL is already in development by eONE for a television series—yay! Can you give us a little glimpse into that process and when we might expect to see it?

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen:

We are so thrilled eONE, which developed SHARP OBJECTS (Gillian Flynn) for HBO, is developing our novel. We are attached as executive producers, which means we get to be involved in key creative decisions. eONE hired a fantastic writing team to craft the pilot (we chatted with them about their ideas for the storyline) and we hope to have some more good news after AN ANONYMOUS GIRL releases in January.

apartment chair clean contemporary
Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Leslie Lindsay:

Sarah and Greer—it’s been a delight! Thank you, thank you for popping over. Is there anything I forgot to ask, but should have?

Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen:

We’re hard at work on our next novel, another psychological thriller featuring strong, relatable female characters. Thank you for having us!

For more information, to connect with the authors via social media, or to purchase a copy of AN ANONYMOUS GIRL, please see:

Greer Hendricks:

Sarah Pekkanen:

Order Links: 

Sarah Pekkanen and Greer Hendricks_credit Bill MilesABOUT THE AUTHORS:

Greer Hendricks is the coauthor of the New York Times bestseller The Wife Between Us. Prior to becoming a bestselling novelist, she spent over two decades as an editor at Simon & Schuster. She obtained her master’s in journalism from Columbia University and her writing has appeared in The New York Times, Allure, and Publishers Weekly. Greer lives in Manhattan with her husband and two children.

Sarah Pekkanen is the internationally and USA Today bestselling author of eight previous novels. A former investigative journalist and award-winning feature writer, she has published work in The Washington PostUSA Today, and many others. She is the mother of three sons and lives just outside Washington, D.C.

You can connect with me, Leslie Lindsay, via these websites: 

 

 

 

LOVE IT? SHARE IT!

#psychologicalthriller #domesticthriller #AnAnonymousGirl #amreading  #authorinterview

 

[Cover and author images courtesy of St. Martin’s Press and used with permission].

 

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