Best-selling author Emily Giffin is known for telling a good love story. Whether it's about falling for a best friend's fiance in "Something Borrowed" or the gnawing feeling of wondering "what if" about someone you let go long ago in "Love The One You're With," Giffin has made a career of exploring the complications of love and lust. Her new book, "The One & Only" (out May 20) is no exception. We get Giffin to spill details, plus what she really thinks about love.
The setting for "The One & Only" is completely different from your past books. How did you get into the sports culture of Texas?
I have been passionate about college athletics since I was a little girl and there are few worlds more colorful than Texas football. I actually spent some time in Dallas and visited SMU’s spring training. I also had several coaches, including Hall-of-Famer Jim Boeheim, read early drafts to make sure that the character of Coach Clive Carr, and the story, particularly the NCAA-investigation subplot, felt authentic. That being said, the sports background is just the setting for the story, which, at its core, is centered on a young woman dealing with difficult, important life choices and the unresolved feelings that ultimately complicate them. You don’t need to love football to enjoy this book, any more than you have to love boxing to watch "Rocky."
How did the idea for the book initially come to you?
All of my books generally begin with a core theme or idea. For "The One & Only," I wanted to explore 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 consider the question of whether true love can really conquer all, especially in the face of judgment and scrutiny from those outside of it.
Did you know how it would end before you started writing it?
I really didn't. All of my books tend to be very character-driven, so the story only unfolds once I get to know the characters and their relationships begin to form. On top of that, I like to write about the messy gray areas of life, where answers are seldom clear cut. With "The One & Only," I was conflicted and torn until the very end, right along with my characters. I like to think that's a good thing, though —hopefully it means readers will also be in suspense until the last page!
Without trying to give anything away, your books have a common theme of seemingly impossible love. Do you believe love conquers all in real life?
As I mentioned earlier, this is definitely the "big question" in the book and I'm really happy with the way "The One and Only" ended — it felt right for the characters, and true to the story as a whole. But what happens in the book is just that...a conclusion to one fictional story and not necessarily a reflection of my personal beliefs. Honestly, I'm not really sure whether love can conquer all in real life...I like to believe it can!
The intricacies of female friendships are something else you write a lot about in your books, and this one is no exception. Can you talk a little bit about why adding these type of relationships to your books is important to you?
My books are all relationship-driven. I write about mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, and of course friendships. Friendships are integral to who we are as people — and I think they are particularly important to women. But even our closest friendships can be complicated and layered. The simple, easy ones aren’t always the most worthwhile ones.
What is a real life love story you love?
Kate and William. I believe in their sweet happily ever after. But the pretty, fairytale ones aren’t the only ones I’m drawn to. I think there is great beauty in relationships that go through really rough, dark times — and still survive.
Follow Emily on Twitter: @EmLaurence