In an endless sea of chick-lit authors, Emily Giffin manages to float to the top. Her incredibly well crafted characters are laced with very human elements like being flawed or making less-than-favorable decisions, paired with Giffin’s solid storytelling. All of this ultimately puts her as one of the most likeable and talented literary voices around.
I got a chance to interview Ms. Giffin just before an event in Atlanta where we chatted about her latest novel, role models, the publishing industry, and date nights.
danapop (dp): Where did the idea for, “Where We Belong” come?
Emily Giffin (eg): Initially I wanted to talk about a secret and how a really big secret can impact someone’s life. Can you keep a secret and not have it affect your relationship? Does it change who you fundamentally are to have this? Or are some people wired such that they can say the past is the past and I’m moving forward and I don’t owe the truth to everybody in my life?
dp: What’s a date night with your husband look like?
eg: My mother lives here, she moved here from Chicago. She has sleepovers with them (the kids) on Saturday nights. And so we really like Saturday nights just staying at home. Home without the children is a completely different place. Last Saturday night, it sounds a little bit lame, but I worked on my speech for my book tour, we did a jigsaw puzzle, and I was drinking whiskey. Nothing fancy.
dp: Paper or e-reader?
eg: Oh paper all the way. I still do paper planners. I haven’t yet cracked an electronic calendar. I have pens in different colors and I color code everything. I think e-readers are wonderful for just reading in general; it’s helped people to read more and I think that’s great, but I like paper. I miss the card catalog for goodness sake!
dp: What book are you currently reading? That is if you can actually read while on a book tour.
eg: I’m not in one, but I just finished “The Art of Fielding.” I love sports stories. I love sports in general and a really good, well-written sports story that is character driven, I think everyone should take a look at that one.
dp: You seem to write really strong female characters, what women did you admire growing up?
eg: My mother is very nurturing. She was a stay at home mother until I was in high school, she went back and got her library science degree and was a librarian. She was a huge inspiration to me. Her love of books really cultivated in me the love of creating and writing.
dp: What’s a typical day look like for you as a writer?
eg: It’s just a balancing act between my writing, which is the same for any working mother. At this point in my career in some ways it’s like running a small business because half of what I do is about writing and the other half is everything else that goes along with it. It’s funny because I actually work more now than I did as a lawyer at a big firm. But, I can be there for events at the kids’ school.
dp: The industry has changed so much since your first book. How have you navigated to where you are with the longevity, I mean you haven’t written one book here?
eg: You just nailed it. That is the hardest part of this, the fact that you have to keep doing it. You have to keep creating new work that readers will like as much as the one before it, hopefully more. You definitely have to create a book that you’re proud of.
For me, one of the things I had to do was slow down the pace. I understand that commercial authors put out a book year. I felt like I could not do that and create the same quality in my fiction and feel that I was present for my children in their formative years. Everything is fleeting so I come out with a book every other year. For me that was important to family and for writing to take a pause. I wish I wrote faster, but I don’t, and I’d rather be proud of what I write and take an extra year.
Read more about Giffin’s body of work via her site, emilygiffin.com.
Images: Courtesy of Getty Images