When I was offered the chance to not only read Emily Giffin’s new novel Where We Belong before everyone else AND interview her, I couldn’t resist. Now, full disclosure: I’ve never read any of Emily’s novels before. I know, I know, how did I miss them? In all fairness, I did see the movie ‘Something Borrowed’ (based on her bestseller), but I just never got around to picking up one of her books. I thought I wasn’t missing out on anything – as they say, ignorance is bliss. Now, I’m happy to be in the know and have realized that Giffin’s books are sweet, entertaining and heart-warming reads. I picked up Where We Belong near the beginning of the month and had a hard time putting it down, tearing through it in a few short days.
Where We Belong begins with our main character, Marian Caldwell, a successful TV producer who seems to be living a charmed life in NYC. She’s got an equally successful boyfriend, Peter, and while he’s hesitant to commit, he treats her well. This is all find and dandy until Kirby Rose, an eighteen year old from St. Louis, Missouri arrives on Marian’s doorstep and turns her world upside down. The two women find themselves beginning a journey together that will help them both grow and discover what matters most. I won’t say much more, but the story is a tender one, that really tugs at the heartstrings.
Giffin’s writing is engaging and easy to read, making this the perfect summer vacation pick. Her books are based on experiences that a lot of women have, making them accessible and super appealing to the masses; it’s no wonder she’s a bestseller! I really liked the characters and found them all to be quite believable. From teenage Kirby, who thinks she is a lot wiser than she actually is, to Marian who puts on the facade of perfection, they very well could be your best friend, little sister or a co-worker.
If you’re looking for a chick-lit read with substance, definitely get this one!
And without further ado, an interview with Emily Giffin:
CC: When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Emily: I wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember, certainly as long as I could read or write. I can recall telling my parents I wanted to be an “author” when I was in the first grade.
CC: You started out as a lawyer. How did you end up writing chick lit?
Emily: Although I enjoyed law school, I loathed the actual practice of law—at least the big firm culture—and discovered that misery can be quite motivating! So very early on, I devised a plan to pay off my law school loans so that I could try to write full-time without the noose of debt. Meanwhile, I began writing a young adult novel in my free time (and sometimes while at work!). Four years later, my loans were paid off and my book was completed. I was able to land an agent, but over the next several months, I received a dozen rejection letters from publishers. I seriously contemplated giving up and keeping my nose to the legal grindstone, but instead, I quit my job, moved to London and decided to try again. It was then and there that I began writing Something Borrowed.
CC: Do real-life situations that happen to you or friends ever make it into your work? Do you have a particular example?
Emily: My books are all relationship-focused, so much of my inspiration comes from my own relationships and the issues and concerns that arise among my friends and family. In addition, I often try to find some way to identify with my protagonist, such as her profession or where she lives, particularly when I’m writing in the first person. But the plots have never been autobiographical—thank goodness!—nor have I written about any specific real-life situations that have happened to my friends or family (save for a few minor events here or there in some of the books).
CC: Where did you find the inspiration for Where We Belong?
Emily: At its heart, the book is about secrets and what happens to us and those closest to us when we keep them. I’ve always been intrigued by the power of secrets. When is it justifiable to keep them from the ones we love? And does keeping them irrevocably change who we are? Adoption (under the secretive circumstances in Where We Belong) seemed to be a great way to explore some of those broader themes. In addition, I have always been interested in adoption. There are so many perspectives to explore—so much rich, emotional terrain.
CC: What was it like to have Something Borrowed made into a film?
Emily: The word is overused but it truly was surreal, especially because I really liked the film. Of course there were things I would have changed, but that will happen in any collaborative process. Overall, I think the movie really captured my characters and the feel and tone of the book—and my readers really seemed to like it. The entire experience is something I will always treasure.
CC: What is your favorite book of all-time?
Emily: To Kill a Mockingbird. My mother gave me a special 40th anniversary edition for my 40th birthday that was autographed by Harper Lee. It has become, along with family photographs, the possession I would save first in a house fire.
CC: Because this website is directed at college females, think back to your college experience. What advice would you give to these girls?
Emily: Beyond all the typical stuff about believing in yourself and not being afraid to break a few rules here and there, I have a couple (relatively) trivial things I wish someone had told me when I was in college!
First, a shopping tip: drop your cash on one great pair of jeans or jacket instead of 15 tops at Forever 21. I finally figured this out at about age thirty, and I swear I’ve saved so much money with the philosophy.
Second, a bit of love advice: when you know a relationship is over, move on and move on fast. You can waste years trying to make something work that isn’t meant to be.
Everything else, you’ll figure out for yourself. Trust me. And yourself.
CC: Are you working on any other novels right now? Can you give us a hint?
Emily: I’m in the part of the publishing cycle that is pretty much solely focused on publicity and marketing and being on the road for my book tour. It’s one of the things I love about my career. There are whole months and zones of almost solitary confinement when I’m writing. Then I get to emerge and work with my publicity team, interact with the media, and most important, meet my readers. When the dust settles in early September, I will begin my seventh novel. (Actually eighth—since the first was never published). I have some ideas in my head, but it’s still too early to say anything substantial about what the new book will be!