The Author


The last few years have been pretty amazing for author Sara Shepard. First, her debut book series, Pretty Little Liars, became a bestseller. Then it inspired a hit TV show. Now ABC Family is producing a pilot based on her sophomore effort, The Lying Game. The pretty little truth is: success hasn’t changed her one bit. Check out our Q&A with Sara and flip through the personal photos she shared with us to learn more about the woman behind the Liars.


Q: After finishing the final book of the Pretty Little Liars series, what was it like for you to write The Lying Game?

A: The Lying Game was definitely challenging—it has the same mysterious structure, but so many things about it are different: new characters to create, new voices to explore, a new setting, and two narrators: one living, one dead. It was hard to find the balance of when Sutton speaks and when Emma speaks, and I definitely had to write many drafts. It was exciting, though, and definitely rewarding when the process was over. I especially love the new device in which Sutton interjects with fully-drawn “memory” chapters in which she walks us through a very creepy scene from her past. It’s something that’s going to show up in every book of the series, much like the flashback prologues appeared in every PLL.

Sara’s writing desk See more photos »

Q: One of our favorite similarities between PLL and The Lying Game is that both stories revolve around a tightly woven mystery. How would you describe the mystery at the heart of The Lying Game?

A: There are several mysteries: who killed Sutton Mercer, who is torturing Emma Paxton, and why Emma and Sutton never met when they were young. I love the past and family element of it—I can’t wait to explore that more.

Q: Introduce us to Emma Paxton and Sutton Mercer, the twins at the heart of The Lying Game, and tell us what you like most about each of them.

A: Well, Emma is plucky, resourceful, wry, and a bit world-weary—she’s lived her whole life in foster homes trying to be the ideal girl of every family. Plus Emma has never had a real family, so she’s forever wishing on stars, hoping that she’ll have some kind of place in the world someday. I like that Emma’s a chameleon, I like how she throws herself into being Sutton, and I like how she takes a chance on Ethan, one of the boys in the story, even though he’s not in Sutton’s clique.

Sutton, on the other hand, is a bit spoiled, a bit rebellious, and a bit nasty—as much the opposite of Emma as you could get. She’s had everything handed to her her entire life, and much of it she throws away (or so Emma and Sutton think). What I love about Sutton, though, is how she views her life and mistakes from her ghostly vantage—she begins to realize that she’s hurt some people and has some regrets. She also starts to appreciate her life in a way she might not have when she was alive. As we get to know Sutton better, we begin to understand her deeper, too—and we realize that she wasn’t always the maniacal, cruel, wild party girl she was when she left this world.

Q: You’ve always said that certain aspects of your personality made their way into the four Pretty Little Liars. Do Emma and Sutton resemble you in any way?

A: I think Emma is definitely like me—especially how she adapts to situations. And I think some of Sutton’s post-death reactions were spurred by my experiences as well. I’ve made mistakes in my past—we all have. I’ve let opportunities and friends go I shouldn’t have, and I have regrets. I’ve done not-so-nice things to people, and I wish in hindsight I wouldn’t have. But when I did them—when I was a teenager, mostly—I was just like, “whatever,” and moved on. Repercussions and people’s feelings didn’t matter as much to me, maybe because I hadn’t been hurt much myself. I was trying to harness how I would feel if I was suddenly Sutton and watching my life as a ghost. So that’s how I was able to get into her head.

1 2 NEXT »