Author Emily Giffin Explains How To Go From Books To Big Screen

embed-Emily Giffin author photo (credit Emmanuelle Choussy)Photographed by Emmanuelle Choussy.
The six-time New York Times best-selling author Emily Giffin has a knack for making stories resonate with readers. And, even if you've never read one of her novels, chances are you've seen the rom-com Something Borrowed with Kate Hudson and Ginnifer Goodwin at least once. Now your summer beach read is settled, because Giffin is debuting her latest novel, The One and Only, on May 20.
We caught up with the word wiz to talk about everything from the book to whether or not the Something Blue movie is going to be a reality. On top of that, she spilled about how strange it is to see her words turn up on the big screen. Sounds like something straight out of a rom-com, right?
Live in the Windy City? Meet Giffin in person at the Bloomingdale's North Michigan Avenue flagship on Wednesday, May 28 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

Did you ever anticipate Something Borrowed being turned into a movie?

"I could always picture it as a movie, but never really thought it would happen, even after it was optioned. Years actually passed (and ownership of the rights) before production got underway — so it really did feel like a small miracle. I still pinch myself sometimes when I think about it. The whole experience of seeing actors play the characters I created, then going to the premiere with my family and best friends, was so surreal. It's just a bonus that I happen to love the movie, too!"

There's been buzz for a few years about a potential sequel for Something Blue. Is that still a possibility?

"Yes! I'm currently working on the screenplay for Blue, and hope it will begin production soon. The same producers are on board for the sequel, and Kate Hudson and John Krasinski are both attached to reprise their roles as Darcy and Ethan. Nothing is ever a guarantee in Hollywood, but I feel really good about this happening."

Who — if any — of your characters do you best identify with and why?

"My books are not autobiographical, but there is something about every protagonist that I can strongly relate to (for example, Rachel's misery as an attorney mirrored my own experiences, and Darcy moving to London and having twin boys were episodes taken from my own life). I will say that one of my closest friends from high school recently mentioned that Shea (in The One & Only) reminded him of me more than any other character I’ve created. That thought never occurred to me as I wrote the book, but I think perhaps he is right. I did grow up wanting to be a sports journalist, so there was something satisfying about giving Shea that profession in the book."


What was the "ah-ha" moment that made you realize you wanted to trade law for a career as a novelist?

"Probably the first day that I set foot in my law firm! While I loved my time in law school, I absolutely loathed practicing as an attorney. But, I 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 law school debt. It was risky, trading in one career for another (with no guarantees of success), but I'm so happy that I followed my heart."

Be it the trauma of sleeping with your best friend's man or struggling to identify the feelings for an old flame, where do you draw the emotional complexity of your characters?

"I find flawed characters much more interesting than perfect ones and enjoy the challenge of making readers root for them in spite of their unsympathetic path and destructive choices. Life is about the gray areas. Things are seldom black and white, even when we wish they were and think they should be, and I like exploring this nuanced terrain. I believe most people are good at heart and sincerely try to do the right thing. Yet, we are all capable of missteps and of hurting the people we love, and we all have had to grapple with the guilt and regret that come from these mistakes and weaknesses. My hope is that my books can give people a sense of understanding and empathy for these complicated, messy situations."

emPhoto: Courtesy of Ballantine Books.

It's refreshing to see that the main character in The One & Only, Shea Rigsby, is still discovering herself in her 30s — was this intentional?

"Yes. An important element of Shea's character development, as well as the plot, relied on her feeling of being stuck, unsure of what she wanted in life, or, more accurately, how to get it. I think that's something that a lot of us go through, and it's not just a 20-something phenomenon."

What is the main message you'd like readers to get out of The One & Only?

"There are a couple of things I'd like readers to consider when reading The One & Only. First, this idea of following your passion, and what that means in the context of our lives. Not many of us are fortunate enough to have a true passion that drives everything we do, but for those of us who do have that in our lives, just how much of a role should it play? And, if we allow that all-consuming passion to dictate many (or even all) of our most important life decisions, is that really a good thing? To put it simply, is following your passion always the best policy?

A second theme in the book is the idea of unconventional love. I think if we’re honest, the way most of us think about romantic love is pretty narrowly defined, and there’s a tendency for us to dismiss or at least feel uncomfortable with, anything outside of those definitions. With this story, I really wanted to portray a relationship that, while difficult for some to understand and accept initially, is beautiful and idyllic in its own right. I also wanted to explore the question of whether love can really conquer all, especially in the face of judgment and scrutiny from those outside of it."

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