Emily Giffin, Something Borrowed & Something Blue
A long time ago a friend emailed to tell me about this fabulous new author, Emily Giffin. I read the reviews on Amazon and yes, the books sounded great, my kind of fun novels. So as I always do, I got my pink polished nails (not my nails per se, but my hands) on the novels and read them quickly.
After Something Borrowed, I thought there was no way the sequel, Something Blue could be as good. I was surprised. The books were both really good. So good that you don't want to put them down to do things like cook dinner or give the kids a bath or fold laundry. They were good enough to keep me reading until I finished the final pages in the wee hours.
Then... I loaned the books out. I have reason to believe that the person I loaned them to dipped them in sudsy bathwater and left them to dry on the hood of a car. Don't you hate it when that happens? My beautiful pastel colored novels, crinkled and ruined! But a new novel is coming down the pike and I for one, am jumping for joy in anticipation of Baby Proof.
Emily, who would you say you are most like: kind hearted Rachel or selfish Darcy? And which of those girls would you choose to be friends with?
Hey! I’m going to have to defend my girl Darcy here! I don’t know that I’d characterize her as selfish! She certainly had those tendencies, but I think she redeemed herself a bit in Something Blue. One of the reasons I wanted to write both books is that I wanted to show that there are two sides to every story and no relationship is black-and-white… Overall, I think I’m probably more like Rachel, but I think I have a little bit of both women in me. To write convincingly, I think you must be able to relate, in some way, to what a character is feeling and going through. Like Rachel in Borrowed, I was a lawyer who was unhappy in the big firm culture. Rachel was generally a rule follower and risk averse until the summer after her thirtieth birthday, and upon turning thirty, I, too, reevaluated my life and decided to make a major change. I quit my legal career, moved to London and began writing full time.
As for Darcy in Blue, she and I both moved to London at a crossroads in our life, and we both have identical twin sons (the scene with her doctor in London at her first ultrasound was the most autobiographical scene in any of my books). And like both women (and most women everywhere) I know what it’s like to have a complicated female friendship. As for your question about friends, I have friends who are Rachel-esque and friends who are more like Darcy. Friends like Rachel are the ones you want with you in a crisis. But the Darcys of the world are very fun to hang out with!
How long did it take you to write the books? Did you take a break in between writing them, or did you write in one, long continuous story- telling frenzy? I was pleasantly surprised that both books were excellent, sometimes sequels are disappointing but you made it work very well.
It took me about one year to write each of my three books so far. Something Borrowed was released in June 2004; Something Blue came out in June 2005 and Baby Proof will be released next month, on June 13th. And I’m currently working on my fourth book (about a girl who worries that she married the wrong person) which will be published next year. So I haven’t had time for a break yet!
But to answer your question more specifically, I didn’t write Borrowed and Blue as one continuous book. In early drafts of Borrowed, I thought often about what Darcy would say if she could hear Rachel’s thoughts. How would she defend herself? How would she view events differently? And yet, I never really considered writing the sequel until the completion of Borrowed when I spent some time fine-tuning Darcy. To your point, she was undeniably self-centered, superficial and self-indulgent in my first book, but I never viewed her as evil. I wanted to be sure that she was not coming across as a flat character devoid of any depth or warmth. After all, Dex spent seven years with her and Rachel put up with her for much longer. To make that part of the story realistic, I thought it necessary to soften some of her edges, and so I added in a few scenes to show her good-hearted side. In so doing, I became much more interested in Darcy as a person—which was the genesis for my sequel.
What is a typical day in the life of Emily Giffin? Do you eat pop tarts for breakfast? McDonalds for dinner? Or are you more of a truffles with white wine reduction and caviar on toast points kind of girl?
My husband and I get up around 7 am with our two-year old twins, Edward and George, and we all have breakfast as a family. Then, my nanny comes four days a week, and she takes care of the boys while I write. We’re pretty low maintenance as far as meals go. When my husband and I were in London, we’d chef it up several times a week, but now we mostly stick with mac & cheese and other easy meals. I’m embarrassed to say, we even resort to frozen dinners during American Idol watching! Still, I love scoping out my Zagat’s for occasional fine dining—and I’d never turn my nose up at caviar on toast points!
You live in Atlanta. Ever run into Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston? Do you watch the train-wreck that is their reality show?
Of course! Whitney and I are actually meeting up for a liquid lunch today! Kidding. I’ve lived in Atlanta for two years and have yet to run into Bobby or Whitney—or any other celebrity. Then again, when I lived in New York and London, my celebrity radar was always off. I’d be with friends, walking down a virtually empty street. We’d pass someone walking a dog and my friends would say, “Omigod! Did you see who that was?” And turns out Dustin Hoffman or Gwenyth Paltrow would have just sauntered by me.
Ever have any crazy fans follow you around from signing to signing or send you lots of wacky e-mails? I actually had an internet stalker which was rather creepy.
No stalkers, but I do have a few intense girls whom I hear from fairly often. But I’m not complaining! I love their support. Really makes me happy when readers connect so much with my books that they feel as if I’m a friend—or could be a friend. One sweet girl just wrote me yesterday. She has been in a relationship in which the guy has been two-timing with her and another girl for years. He’s marrying the other girl in June. She’s devastated and feels that she lost “the one.” It made me happy that I could offer her encouraging words and assure her that he is most certainly not “the one” for her.
Do you like to read the kinds of books you write ? I love mystery novels but don’t have the talent to construct a good one. I write chick-lit and read everything from cookbooks to true crime novels. How about you?
I love chick lit (Jennifer Weiner, Sarah Dunn, Sarah Mlynowski), but I don’t limit myself to any one genre. Some of my favorite authors include Elinor Lipman, Alice Sebold, Tom Perrotta, Stephen King (when he’s not writing horror), Kent Haruf, Nick Hornby, and Ann Patchett. I wish I could write like Alice Munro—but then again, if I did, I probably wouldn’t have my pretty pastel covers which I adore! Bottom line, I’ll read most anything with real, interesting characters.
What’s in your purse right now? I carry around three shades of pink lipstick at all times. Do you wear makeup? Your book photo is very pretty.
Thank you! Although I should fess up that my book jacket photos are pretty much the best I can look. I think I even prefer them to my wedding photos! It’s amazing what you can accomplish with professional hair, makeup and photographers.
My purse is typically a mess. Lots of crumpled receipts, gum wrappers, and calendars from last year (yes, even now that it’s nearly June). I always have with me the following: a tin of Rosebud Salve, Aveda hand lotion, Orbit gum, Tic-tacs (mint green or orange), big sunglasses, a mini-journal to record funny things Edward and George say, my phone (that is usually running on one bar) and my orange wallet from Barney’s that is so bright that I can’t lose it.
As for makeup, I’m a total lip gloss junkie. The only feature of mine that I really like is my lips. My current favorite glosses are by Fresh (I have about six) and Chanel (Rose Sand and Spark). Right now I’m also really enjoying a NARS bronzer called Laguna, but most of the time I skip makeup except for bronzer, lip gloss and mascara. And sometimes Paul Dorf under-eye Total Camouflage. At 34, I really need to start kicking it up a notch with foundation and eye shadow and the whole nine yards. Especially here in the South where nobody leaves the house without their face.
If I came over right now, what would I find you wearing and what are you currently doing besides sitting at the computer? I usually have television on while I’m rubbing my dogs belly with my foot, typing away. How about you?
Right now, I have a raging sore throat that I picked up from my two year-olds, so I’m in total comfort mode, sipping green tea and eating an English muffin with tons of butter. My hair is in a ponytail, and I’m wearing layered T-shirts (love Splendid Ts) and a baggy pair of jeans. I’m not into the whole yoga thing, but I do have a cozy pair of Nike yoga pants that I like to wear when I write. I’m all about comfort—it is one of the huge perks of being a writer (that and writing-off books for tax purpose). But I like to dress up sometimes—when I go to lunch with friends or out to dinner with my husband. Nice clothes and great shoes make me feel like my old, pre-children self!
What’s next for you and where do you see yourself in three years?
In three years, I hope my life is pretty much the same as it is now. Writing, spending time with Edward and George and my husband. Maybe we’ll even have another baby. It’d be interesting to see what having one baby at a time is like! …I approach life a bit how I approach writing. I don’t outline. It might be more efficient to plan ahead, but I’d prefer to wait and see how things unfold. I enjoy the surprises in life!