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Emily Giffin on What a Best-Selling Novelist Wears to Work

 Photo: Emmanuelle Choussy
Photo: Emmanuelle Choussy

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Emily Giffin recently stopped by Chicago's Bloomingdale's to sign copies of her new, ultimate beach read: The One & Only. We took the opportunity to ask everything we want to know about the road to success as a novelist, what Giffin wears to work, and what she reads to her young children at night. Read on for our Q&A, and follow news of Giffin's book tour here.

You've lived in so many wonderful cities. But what's something you miss about Chicago, no matter where you are?
I miss the professional sports teams. I miss the pizza. I miss the people. Chicago will always feel like home to me!

You live in Atlanta now. Have you picked up any Southern habits?
I catch myself saying "y'all" now and then. But I don't mind—it sounds a bit softer and more friendly than my typical "you guys"..... And I write thank you notes more quickly than I used to. Manners in the South are impeccable.

Your story of following your dream to become a novelist is so inspiring! What advice would you give to someone who has a demanding "day job" but wants to start following her dream slowly but surely?
It may sound simple, but I think it just has to do with wanting something so much that you're willing to make whatever effort or take whatever risks are necessary—which, not surprisingly, is a theme in many of my books. When I was practicing as an attorney, I wrote every spare moment I had, whether it was late at night or at the crack of dawn, because I knew that writing was ultimately what I wanted to do. Even the widespread rejection of that first manuscript didn't stop me from trying again. As Mark Twain says in one of my all-time favorite quotes: "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn't do than by the ones you did do."

When you faced rejection early on, how important was it to develop a thick skin, and any tips for doing so?
Try to remember that a rejection letter comes from one individual editor. It is only one opinion—not a global indictment of your work.

I'd love to hear about the kind of environment you write in! What does your office look like?
I write in the loft-like space above our pool house in the backyard. The walls, floors and ceiling are painted white and it is very bright and sunny, with windows overlooking trees and our pool. It is very peaceful—which is tough thing to achieve in a home with three young children!

What does a best-selling novelist wear to work?
T-shirts and jeans, yoga pants, and sweats and pajamas. It's one of the best perks of my job.

Photo: via Barnes & Noble

The One & Only is set in a Texas football town. How did you research this, and did it give you an excuse to watch Friday Night Lights marathons?
I took a few trips to Dallas while writing the book to make sure I had a good feel for Texas culture, and had the privilege of attending SMU's spring football practices. As for Friday Night Lights, I've only seen a few episodes, but I've read Buzz Bissinger's book twice. It's amazing.

You've had Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin play your characters on the big screen in Something Borrowed. Who would play you in a movie?
Jennifer Aniston would be my first choice. I love her.

Which of your characters would you most like to go shopping with?
I'm not a big shopper and don't like shopping with friends. I prefer the efficiency of being alone, on a mission. That said, it would be hard to top Darcy [from Something Borrowed] when it comes to wardrobe selection. My other characters have been more like me, preferring that the clothes simply materialize in their closets!

Photo: Emily Giffin via Facebook

What do you always carry with you when you go on tour?
My large Canon camera and my laptop. Makes for a very heavy carry-on bag!

Finally, you have three young children. What do you read to them for bedtime stories? And what was the first book you fell in love with as a child?
We read so much—classics such as Harriet the Spy (my daughter's name is Harriet) and newer novels like Wonder and Flora & Ulysses. I loved the Betsy, Tacy & Tib books, the Little House and Anne of Green Gables series, and everything by Judy Blume and Beverly Cleary. Reading was, and still is, one of my greatest passions.
· Emily Giffin [Official Site]