A highly disciplined writer, Pearlman writes every day from 8 a.m. to at least noon. She also paints and sculpts, and several of her welded, animal-like figures are displayed in her large, airy house. She sees patients in a side room with a spacious view of the outdoors.
"We built this house," Pearlman says of herself and her ex-husband, Al Hinton, a now-retired U-M art professor. The couple separated in 1995, about a year after they moved in, and divorced in 2000, the same year Infidelity appeared in print.
Pearlman is frequently asked if the women in the fictional Christmas Cookie Club are based on the women in her actual group. Mainly not, the author insists. She did base Marnie's physical description on her friend Marybeth Bayer, who brought her into the group nine years ago. With one member's permission, she reprinted an actual email that included a recipe. And, as in the book, seven of the twelve women in her "real" group have had cancer--including Pearlman, whose melanoma was caught early. But the most dramatic details are fictional. "As far as I know, none of the women have had a secret love affair for twenty years," Pearlman says. "None had a friend who slept with their father!"
Although some readers assume she herself is Marnie, Pearlman says that she feels closer to her fictional Allie, a therapist involved with a much younger man (she smilingly declines comment on a romantic parallel). "My kids think I'm all of the characters," she says.