Author Emily Giffin Talks Creativity, Staying Inspired and Her Newest Novel
Best-selling author Emily Giffin is all about the struggle. All seven of her best-selling novels tackle some of the toughest relationship dramas that women (and some men) can face. From cheating that tears friendships apart to having to find yourself while being alone and pregnant to wondering if the one that got away was the one that was always meant to be, her stories are definitely dramatic but are still somehow super familiar and accessible. It’s clearly why she has so many super loyal fans (including us!) who can’t wait to see what she brings to the page next.
Her newest book First Comes Love is no exception. This time, Emily’s story follows two sisters at super different stages of their lives, years after a tragedy struck their family. They have to confront the painful events that splintered their relationship, while also finding out they are each the person the other needed the most. (Pro tip: a perfect read to send to your sis the minute you finish it!)
We got a chance to chat with Emily about the book, staying creative, the upcoming release of the sequel to Something Borrowed (which starred Ginnifer Goodwin and Kate Hudson) and using family as inspiration.
1. First Comes Love deals with sisters and the secrets they harbor. Do you find it harder to write about family or romantic relationships?
There are unique challenges to writing each relationship, but I don’t think one dynamic is necessarily harder than the other. The main thing I try to do — whether in depicting romantic or family relationships — is explore the nuances of each and create empathy for my characters and the issues they’re facing. After all, things are seldom black and white in real life, and we all deal with situations that cause us to reassess our definitions of right and wrong. It’s those gray areas that really interest me as a writer.
2. People are raving about the way you approached the relationship between the sisters in First Comes Love. How much of your own sister relationship influenced the sisters in the book?
The story isn’t autobiographical, but I did draw on my relationship with my sister as I wrote the book. My sister Sarah is my best friend and the person I am the closest to — yet we’re also capable of misunderstanding one another in a really fundamental way. And that’s the sort of contradictory dynamic I wanted to explore in this story.
3. What’s your favorite part of sharing a new book with the world?
For the most part, writing is a solitary exercise, so having the opportunity to personally interact with my readers and listen to their reactions to the book is truly meaningful. It is hands down the best part of any new book release.
4. If you could, would you go back and change the ending of any of your past books?
Not really. I’m happy with the endings for my books, which tend to be less “happily ever after” and more reflective of the ambiguity of real life. One thing I would change, however, is the title for Baby Proof — in retrospect, I realize that it doesn’t really capture the essence of the book at all, which has much less to do with babies (there actually are no babies in the book!), and more to do with the nature of soulmates and the question of whether there are “dealbreakers” when it comes to true love.
5. We love that Something Blue is set to hit the big screen. You wrote the first script but then it was rewritten several times — how was the scriptwriting process? Love it or leave it?
Love it. It’s so different than writing novels and I enjoy the challenge and collaborative nature of it.
6. What’s your ideal writing space?
I really don’t have one. I love the complete silence of my office, but I also love writing in the din of a busy airport. It depends on my mood.
7. How do your kids influence your writing — or your writing space?!
They infiltrate all that I do — in the best of ways and sometimes the worst. It’s hard to focus sometimes when you have children because they will always be the priority. But even while they’re making me want to scream (and actually scream), they also inspire me and motivate me.
8. Say it isn’t so, summer is almost over! What’s left on your summer bucket list?
I know! We are back to school in sixteen days! After my final book signing tonight, I am going to the Hamptons with my daughter to stay with one of my best friends and her daughters. I can’t wait for the girl bonding in such a beautiful place.
9. Tell us about that moment when you said, “I’m really a writer!”
Well, I think the natural inclination is to say it’s when I first held a finished copy of Something Borrowed in my hands, but that wouldn’t really be accurate. I felt like a writer as soon as I could write — and can vividly remember “publishing” books when I was in the first grade. I wrote them, bound them, and gave them to family members as gifts. Writing is just a part of who I am.
10. We found it really interesting that your gorgeous headshot, in the red sweater, was photoshopped to cover your shoulder up a bit more. How do you feel about that decision?
It was actually my idea! The shot was just a casual one we took to initially test the lighting. Later, I loved it for the cover because the red of the sweater matches the red type used for my name on the book jacket. But I thought the bare shoulder was a little much for an author photo. Incidentally, we also photoshopped out the big hoop earrings I was wearing!
11. What genre would you LOVE to tackle writing?
I’m not sure I would be interested in exploring an entirely new genre, if only because my writing interests will always center around relationships and the complications therein. That said, my first, as-yet-unpublished book was a young adult novel, so you never know. One thing that does interest me is the possibility of writing a novel from the perspective of a male character — it’s something that I’ve considered for a while and think I could do well. I love my male characters.
What’s your favorite Emily Giffin read? And have you already read First Comes Love? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!
(Photos via Emmanuelle Chousy)