Mt. Lebanon author keeps it flowing in 'Pretty Little Liars' series
By Kellie B. Gormly
Published: Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013, 8:55 p.m.
The characters of “Pretty Little Liars” surround us and live within us, says the Pittsburgh-area author of the bestselling book series that became a hit television show.
Sara Shepard, who moved to Mt. Lebanon about two years ago after living in many places, says the book series' characters — including the competitive Spencer Hastings, the pretty but insecure Hanna Marin and the lesbian swimmer Emily Fields — have complexities despite their stereotypical high-school roles. And we all can relate to at least one of them somehow, even with their less-flattering traits, like — well, lying.
The characters are likable despite their flaws, says Shepard, who is giving a presentation Oct. 19 at South Park Township Library.
“I think we've all been in situations where we have kind of evaded the truth. ... We're good people, but there's lot at stake,” she says. “I think a lot of people can relate to that. They're lying for good reasons, pushed into lying or they're scared. It's a fun theme. Secrets and lying ... everybody can relate to that.”
“Pretty Little Liars” is “about high school, but it's also a mystery, and kind of about bullying,” says Shepard, who grew up in Downingtown, Chester County, near Philadelphia, and got the inspiration for the “Pretty Little Liars” story from being a suburban teen. She graduated from high school in 1995.
“They are definitely high-school themes,” she says, “but I think anyone can relate to the stuff girls go through.”
At Shepard's presentation, she will talk to fans and autograph books. The event includes prizes and giveaways.
“It's very exciting. I have some friends who are big fans of that library,” Shepard says.
Her parents, Mindy and Bob Shepard, are Armstrong County natives and graduates of Kittanning High School. They now live in Canonsburg.
The first “Pretty Little Liars” book came out in 2006 and stayed on The New York Times bestseller list for several years. The series tells the story of high-school girls navigating a world of gossip, suspense and deceit when their leader, Ali, goes missing. The 14th book in the “Pretty Little Liars” series, “Deadly,” comes out Dec. 4. The series will end with the 16th book, when all of the girls graduate from high school.
“It just seems like it needs an ending,” Shepard says. “I didn't want to take them to college. I wanted to keep them all together in the same place.”
ABC Family created a television series based on Shepard's books, and the network has picked up “Pretty Little Liars” for a fifth season. Meanwhile, a spinoff, “Ravenswood,” is scheduled to premiere on ABC Family on Oct. 22, following the “Pretty Little Liars” Halloween episode.
Shepard says she was surprised but thrilled when her books transformed into the small screen.
“I didn't see it coming,” she says. “It was kind of nice when it happened. ... I am comfortable with just being a writer. ... It was just ... a wonderful thing to fall in my lap.”
Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at email@example.com or 412-320-7824.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Debut novel blends Washington County author’s jobs, observations
- Burlesque dancer searches for missing infant, friend’s killer in ‘Frog Music’
- Hempfield native, 22, publishes with local independent press
- Imagination takes wing in ‘Birdhouses of the World’