It’s not easy writing a bestselling series like Pretty Little Liars and then following it up with another bestselling series like The Lying Game. Heck, if it was, we’d all be successful authors like Sara Shepard! So, how does Sara spin complex, addictive mysteries? And is it hard for her to keep secrets—like Who killed Sutton?—from fans like us? Read our Q&A with Sara and find out!
PLL.COM: You’re an expert at constructing intricate mysteries that keep readers guessing. How do you stay on top of all the clues and suspects?
SARA: It’s definitely hard! I have great editors, for one, and we outline the entire series as a whole, making sure we know who are our suspects for each book and how those suspects can build on the bigger mystery. We try not to have too many misleads—even if a suspect ends up not being Sutton’s killer, through investigating them, Emma finds out a piece to the puzzle. I write very lengthy outlines as far as a lot of “extra” material of what’s going on behind the scenes. For PLL, it was what each character was up to around the time Ali died. For The Lying Game, it’s a timeline of exactly what happened the night she was murdered.
PLL.COM: While writing Never Have I Ever, did you take the upcoming Lying Game TV show into account and imagine how certain events would play out on screen?
SARA: I’ve written a lot of books lately, so I’m trying to remember exactly when I wrote the Lying Game. I’m pretty sure I didn’t know it was being developed for a TV show yet, so that wasn’t in my head. However, there are a lot of things I would love to see play out on screen. The pranks, for instance. Emma’s relationship with Ethan. I’m so excited to see the direction the show takes!
PLL.COM: Your books are always filled with huge, crazy secrets. How do you keep yourself from spilling all the juicy details?
SARA: Oh, it’s really hard. Sometimes I pretend like A is after ME, and if I tell, something awful will happen. And Sutton’s killer is way too juicy to give away—I totally don’t want it to leak. I’m actually dreading the day the last book in the mystery comes out and people know who it is—I wish no one would post spoilers! But alas, there are always spoilers. Hopefully readers will stick with the series anyway.
See! Sara hates not being able to tell us all of her secrets. (We love her even more now.) Let us know what you think of Sara’s thoughts on writing and secret-keeping in the comments—and don’t forget to order your copy of NEVER HAVE I EVER!