From the author of Something Borrowed and Something Blue, comes another tale of love, life and relatable human experiences. Destined to be a surefire hit after a laundry list of best sellers, Where We Belong has already been ranked among the hottest reads this summer. Emily Giffin's story follows one successful woman, as plot twists force her to delve into a secret past. We put Giffin on the author hot seat for a few insider questions, before she's in the Bryant Park Reading Room sponsored by HSBC on Wednesday with host and fellow author Katie Lee. Read on to discover her secret talent and get a look at her summer reading list.
What was your inspiration for this book?
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 the broader themes.
Where do you do your best writing?
I usually write in my office, located in a small, detached carriage house in my backyard. It is such a happy place—there’s so much sunlight and the décor is all white, pink, and orange. On rare occasions, when I need a change of scenery, I write in a coffee shop or bookstore. I also love writing in airports and hotels and on planes. It’s so much easier to focus when you feel anonymous and detached from your regular life.
Did you have an “a-ha!” moment that made you want to be a writer?
There was no “a-ha” moment because for as long as I can remember I wanted to be a writer (since I was five or six). So the real question is why did I go to law school! Looking back, I think I had the sense that I had to get a “real” job first—that I couldn’t graduate and promptly sit down to write a novel. I took a lot of history and political science classes—so law school became a logical next stop. If I’m completely honest, I also think I went to school because it felt safer—a more certain path to measurable success. I think it always feels riskier and scarier to go after something you really love and want because the rejection and failure hurts more. On the brink of thirty, I decided that I wasn’t happy and that I needed to pursue my real dreams. I quit my job, moved to London, and began writing full time.
Which author do you wish had been your 7th grade English teacher?
Elinor Lipman. Not only is she one of my favorite writers, but if she is even half as witty as her stories, I think she’d be so much fun.
What is your secret talent?
Baby naming (which is why I also enjoy naming my characters so much). It seems that a lot of couples choke when making this huge decision. They choose a name that doesn’t go with their last name. Or they pick names for their two children that don’t go together. It drives me nuts… Another random talent: I can say the alphabet backwards with lightning speed!
What is your favorite book?
To Kill a Mockingbird. My mother got me a signed 40th Anniversary edition for my 40th birthday. Other than family photographs, it is the thing I’d save first in a fire!
Who reads your first draft?
My mother, my sister, my best friend, and my cousin read chapters as I write them. They are all big readers but very different from one another so it’s great to get their perspectives. They are also very honest with me. There is no point in having an early reader who is afraid to give you constructive criticism.
Do you read your books after they’ve been published?
I’ve read them so many times before they’re published (probably a dozen) that by the time they come out, I’m finished with them forever. The only exception was Baby Proof because I wrote the screenplay with a friend and had to reread it to remember some of the nuances of the story.
Do you prefer writing on a computer or longhand?
A computer. I wish I wrote longhand on legal pads or spiral notebooks. I’d feel so much cooler.
What great book have you recently read? (Old school or e-Reader?)
Honestly? I just finished Groundswell--the perfect summer read! [Bryant Park Note: written by her moderator, Katie Lee] I also recently enjoyed The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach, a very moving and beautifully-written baseball story about how one error in a game profoundly impacts the lives of five people. I’m a sucker for a good sports story. I was the manager of the men’s basketball team for Wake Forest during the Timmy Duncan era, and have sometimes contemplated writing a basketball-related book. And when it comes to books versus e-readers, I’m “old school” all the way!
What word or punctuation mark are you most guilty of overusing?
A reader on Facebook recently called me out about overusing a word in Love the One You’re With, but I forget what it is now. I am guilty of beginning too many sentences with “And”. My husband always strikes them when I finally give him the book to read. I’m also a big fan of the semicolon; it’s such a satisfying little mark
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
A therapist. My friends always come to me with their relationships issues and I think I give pretty good advice.
Word for Word Author
Wednesdays, 12:30pm - 2:30pm
May 16 - August 22
Bryant Park Reading Room sponsored by HSBC
On-site we'll have two special treats. Giffin will be giving away a few of her custom designed "eg" logo t-shirts, in addition to our usual Foursquare book giveaway for checking-in to Bryant Park.