Emily Giffin, dubbed a “modern day Jane Austen” by Vanity Fair, is the author of seven best-sellers. Her books are known for plots with real-life complexity and casts of endearingly flawed, engaging characters. One of her first, Something Borrowed (2004) was adapted for a 2011 movie starring Kate Hudson, Ginnifer Goodwin and John Krasinski. Four others are also in various stages of development for the big screen. Her most recent book is The One & Only, her seventh novel, released in May 2014, and she is currently on The One & Only book signing tour.
This storyteller has a life story that is as inspiring as the page-turners she creates. Welcome Emily, today’s StyleBlueprint FACE of the South!
As an accomplished lawyer-turned-writer who has lived in Chicago, New York, London and now Atlanta, can we safely say that you are a big city girl?
I do love the energy and cultural diversity of city life, and for a writer, exposure to these things can be a really important component of the creative process. That said, I also enjoy the serenity of the country and the outdoors. One of the things I love about living in Atlanta is that you really can have both.
The main character in The One & Only, Shea Rigsby, is a small-town girl from Walker, TX. Have you ever lived in a small town like Walker?
Charlottesville, VA, where I attended law school, is probably the closest I’ve come to a small town. Like Charlottesville, Walker is a college town, which is an integral part of its identity. There’s a truly symbiotic relationship between a school and the greater community that is unique to small college towns in general, but especially to Texas and football.
When did you first decide that you wanted to be an author?
I’ve wanted to be a writer as long as I could write. My mother, a retired librarian, had a lot to do with that, as she really instilled in me a love of reading and writing. As an adult, there wasn’t any real benchmark experience that jump-started my writing career, though the professional misery of being an attorney certainly provided motivation to pursue my passion.
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Character development. Plot is much more difficult for me, so I let the characters and their relationships lead the way on that front, too.
Describe your writing style in 10 words or less.
Controlled chaos with coffee (and occasionally whiskey!)
Is there a typical daily checklist in the life of Emily Giffin?
Get kids off to school, exercise, write, eat lunch, write, have dinner with my family, help kids with their homework, put the kids to bed, watch TV or read, write some more and occasionally go out. Not very glamorous, is it?
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as you developed your writing style? What has been the best compliment?
That’s hard to say. Criticism is never easy, although I’ve learned over the years not to read reviews, whether positive or negative. I used to think artists and actors fibbed about this, but it’s the truth! Not only would it drive me crazy, but I also believe that it hinders the creative process. People aren’t always going to like what you write—and that’s okay. In some ways, I’d rather there be a strong opinion than none at all.
As far as compliments go, I love the Vanity Fair quote calling me a “modern-day Jane Austen,” but my favorite praise always comes from readers telling me how much one of my books meant to them. That is really what I aim to do as a writer: tell a story that resonates with people.
What are some basic words of wisdom you can offer based on your professional experience?
I would simply say that you shouldn’t be afraid to take a risk for something you really want. Deciding to leave the law to pursue writing full time was the first major risk I ever took and one of the best decisions I ever made. As Mark Twain says in my all-time favorite quote: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do.” Great advice.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
I love talking with my children. No matter what we’re doing together, I just enjoy their conversation. My twin sons are 11 and my daughter is 7, and they only become more interesting over time. I also love watching movies and college basketball. I love to read and travel, and read about travel. My husband and I claim to love cooking, but that is only in theory. In reality, we love to eat out and order in.
What three lighthearted things could you not live without?
La Mer lip balm, my egg poacher and Netflix
Thank you for joining us today, Emily! We wish you safe travels on your current book tour for The One & Only. StyleBlueprint will be there to say hello in Memphis on March 26 and in Atlanta on April 9, two of our six SB cities!
This week, StyleBlueprint is one of the sponsors of Emily’s book-signing event in Memphis on Thursday, March 26 at 6:30 p.m. at the Booksellers of Laurelwood. Booksellers is offering StyleBlueprint subscribers 20% off of her latest book, The One & Only. Also, anyone who downloads the new SB app will receive a complimentary glass of wine, provided in partnership with the Wine Market. (The StyleBlueprint app, currently a beautiful and stylish guide to Birmingham, Memphis and Nashville, with more cities coming soon, is available for free at the Apple store. Download it HERE!)
For a full schedule of Emily’s upcoming appearances, visit emilygiffin.com