When Emily Giffin recently joined Zibby to discuss her latest novel, The Lies That Bind, the two realized they had an uncanny amount in common. The two bonded over their experiences living in New York City immediately before and after 9/11, which celebrities they look to for inspiration on aging gracefully, and how they both find that moments of upheaval in the world can offer us the most profound periods of internal reflection.


Zibby Owens: Welcome, Emily. Thank you so much for coming on “Moms Don’t Have Time to Read Books.”

Emily Giffin: Thank you so much for having me. It’s a real pleasure.

Zibby: So much to talk about. Can we start by talking about your most recent book? which is so good. I am obsessed with these characters still. Oh, my gosh, I feel like I am this girl in this book. Tell listeners what it’s about. Then we can talk more about it.

Emily: Thank you so much, by the way. I like thinking of you sharing some things in common with our heroine, Cecily. The book is about a young reporter. She’s in her twenties. She moves to New York from the Midwest. She’s trying to establish herself in her career. She breaks up with a guy and is not really sure what her life is going to be and what it’s looking like when she meets this other guy and falls madly in love with him only to discover that there’s a lot of mystery to him. She isn’t really sure what he’s all about. The book is really about uncovering, trying to figure out who this guy is, who he was, who he is, the spoilers, and in so doing, trying to figure out who she is. I think a lot of what we do in relationships, as we get to know people, we get to know ourselves as well. She ends up really trying to solve some mysteries about herself as well.

Zibby: Wow. Part of the reason I related is I was in my twenties on 9/11. I was right there. I lost my best friend. She worked in the North Tower. I was posting those signs like the ones of Grant. All your references took me back in a way that I hadn’t before. Having Dido on the first page of your book, I was like, oh, my gosh. I thought that was our song. I eventually went to a Dido concert after. It was this .

Emily: Oh, you did?

Zibby: Yes, it was at the Beacon on the Upper West Side. The Beekman? The Beacon? Anyway, you have all these cultural —

Emily: — I saw Tracy Chapman there.

Zibby: What’s that? You saw Tracy Chapman?

Emily: I saw Tracy Chapman there, yep.

Zibby: I love her.

Emily: We really shared a time and a place, you and I.

Zibby: You must have been there, right?

Emily: I was. I was an attorney. I worked in the MetLife Building. I practiced law for five years. In that sense, I could really relate to Cecily. I was in my late twenties. I had quit my job as a lawyer to — I’d written a book. It took me five years because I was practicing law. It took me five years, ultimately was rejected. I decided in the summer of 2001 that I was going to quit my job as a lawyer, leave my law firm, and go try to write another book. If I had stayed at my firm, I knew it was going to take me another five years or more to write another one because of the amount of time that you log as a young associate in a New York City law firm. Although, I managed to write some of that first book while I was supposed to be billing GE and Philip Morris and all these other clients. I’d be working on my manuscript. Ultimately, it was rejected. I decided I was going to quit my job and then move to London and try again and write another book. My flight was actually — it was really crazy timing, Zibby. It was September 16th, 2001. My going-away party was on that Saturday night. Was that the ninth or the eighth? I’m trying to do the math on that, but that weekend. My last day of work was whatever the Friday before the eleventh was, so the sixth or seventh. My flight was on the sixteenth. Obviously, no flights went out on the twelfth, thirteenth, fourteenth, fifteenth. The sixteenth was the first day they let flights go. I had an international flight. It was one of the very first international flights.

As I boarded that plane, of course, it was terrifying. Everyone was terrified. We were all sort of silent. On top of it, I wasn’t just flying somewhere for work or for a vacation. I was moving. I was leaving the city. I felt incredibly conflicted and almost guilty. Rationally, I knew that nobody — sure, my friends were going to miss me or whatever, but New York didn’t need me. New York doesn’t need any one person. I still felt this sense of guilt that I was flying out of there, leaving my country, leaving my city. You could still see smoke at that point, Ground Zero as you took off. It was a very bizarre time. When I got to London, I just really threw myself into the writing of the book. I think we all escape these things in different ways to the extent we can. I knew some people too. I didn’t have a best friend like you. I’m so sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine, just having known a few people, what it would’ve been like to actually be the person in charge of those placards that people were hanging. I’m so sorry for you and so many others. For me, it was an escape. I started writing Something Borrowed in that fall, so fall of 2001. September of 2001, I started writing that book.

One of the themes of that first book, of Something Borrowed, and also The Lies That Bind is that feeling of being in your late twenties and trying to figure out who you are and what you want. Sometimes we look for that in a relationship. We can do that in all ages. I was about to say we make that mistake at all ages. I think in many ways, it is a mistake to try to find your identity in a relationship and have your life path kind of revolve around that. There are times when that does work, so I shouldn’t be overly simplistic about that. For me, I was about to turn thirty. I was leaving a career that I did not like and that I was not fulfilled by and trying to write this book. I could relate to Rachel in Something Borrowed in those ways. Cecily, it was the same for her. I could very much relate to her in her journey. That’s sort of why I used 9/11. I should say for those who haven’t read the book, it’s a small part of the story. I really could have set it in any time. The real appeal of setting it when I set it was because of that sense of before and after. Some of the book takes place when they met, when the main characters meet, Cecily meets Grant. It’s the summer of 2001. I’m sure you feel the same having lived it, but doesn’t that feel like this last summer of true innocence?

Zibby: Totally. Yes.

Emily: It’s before and after. I know in a lot of ways, we recovered. Of course, life always goes on. We move on. To me, that summer of 2001 and everything before, first of all, it dovetailed with what was happening in my life and my twenties. For me personally, that’s how I see it. When I think back to the places we went, the bars we went out to and the whole Sex and the City era, the Sarah Jessica Parker and the Sex and the City and getting together, it all felt changed after 9/11. It was weird, too, because the book came out last June in hardcover. It’s out in paperback now, of course. Last summer, it came out in hardcover on June 2nd. I didn’t know when I was writing the book — I think I turned my final pages in to my editor in February. I barely heard of coronavirus or COVID. Although, of course, Black Lives Matter has been something that’s been building in importance and something that’s been in our collective consciousness and that we’ve all been thinking about for years. June of last year is when this was really George Floyd and everything. The whole world seemed to be changing all at once with COVID and worldwide pandemic and Black Lives Matter and everything else. I felt like once again, we were in one of those moments of before and after. When you think back to holiday parties in 2019, getting dressed and putting on your heels and your red lipstick and going out without a mask — maybe you would see those signs at the airport that said, “If you’ve been to Wuhan, China…” It felt so removed from anything we really were thinking about.

Now, of course, we’re coming out of it, but I think we’ll always all be able to look at the summer of 2020 and remember what we were doing, and in the sense that Cecily examined her life internally, this big external thing happened with 9/11, but the book’s really more about her internal journey after that. I think that is so true for all of us. Zibby, I have probably four or five friends who are getting a divorce, which is very sad, but in some ways, it’s a fresh start. It’s what they should be doing. It’s wonderful news in some ways. I feel like that happened. Things were accelerated because there was so much time of self-reflection and inward thinking about, is this the life we’re meant to be living? Are we happy? Are we happy with our jobs and our careers? Maybe we don’t want to be going into work every day to an office. Maybe we don’t like our career at all. Maybe we don’t like our spouse. Maybe we want to jettison one of our friends who we thought was a real friend and they’re not being sensitive enough to what was happening with the George Floyd moment. Maybe they were trivializing it. Maybe they didn’t post a black square. We thought that they were blowing things off. So many different things were happening. It was the world stage that things were happening, but our lives changed because of it, because of that internal reflection. Did you find that to be true with friends in your life and people in your life, that a lot of people’s lives shifted direction last year, or is that just a coincidence?

Zibby: I don’t think it’s a coincidence. I think all the data supports that that’s happened far and wide. In my immediate circle, not as much. I found the biggest difference with my own close girlfriends after 9/11, losing someone in our core group made all of us rethink what we were doing. I was at business school at the time. I thought I would have a marketing career. I guess I kind of do in a way because you have to market everything you do anyway.

Emily: Isn’t that the truth?

Zibby: There were just so many parallels. That summer before, I was in the city. I met this new guy at Tortilla Flats at two in the morning. We had a summer whirlwind romance. I was like, oh, my gosh, it could’ve been Grant and me in this book. This is crazy.

Emily: That really is wild.

Zibby: We whisked off to Rio and did all these weird things I’ve never done in the rest of my life. Not that that’s weird, but just spontaneous. Then of course, life changed the way it did here. I don’t mean to overemphasize this element of your book because there are also these romantic little jaunts, the jaunt they had first and the dating, all of that stuff. Eating pancakes at Florent in the middle of the night, all this stuff was just so of the moment.

Emily: That’s crazy.

Zibby: I know.

Emily: We could’ve been at the same places at the same time. That’s crazy.

Zibby: Our paths have probably crossed because so much. Although, then you left, and I came back. Then I also did what you did. After business school, I was like, actually, forget it, that’s not what I want to do. I wrote a book. Then that book didn’t sell. Then I was like, now what? I just had so many things. Of course, I did not go on to write Something Borrowed.

Emily: I did not go on to have a best-selling, amazing podcast, or not best-selling, but hit podcast. Things just tend to work out in interesting ways. It really was a moment. I love that we shared that and that you shared that with Cecily as you read the book. Not to ask a veiled way of asking your age, but how old were you that summer?

Zibby: I’m very open about my age. I’m forty-four. I’ll be forty-five in two months, oh, my gosh. I’m going to have to start saying I’m forty-five. I’m forty-four now, so I’m going to just hang my hat on that.

Emily: So you were born in ’77?

Zibby: ’76.

Emily: ’76, okay, the bicentennial year.

Zibby: Yes, I have a little pillow still.

Emily: Very cool. I’m five years older than you. I was in the bicentennial parade marching with my little red, white, and blue drum in my bunny costume. For some reason, I had that. You were twenty-five, about, that summer. I was about to turn thirty. You’re about to turn forty-five. I’m about to turn fifty next year. I’m here to say, don’t worry about anything until you’re forty-eight. That’s the real moment. You still have a window. Then you fall off the cliff after that.

Zibby: I just read this morning, there’s a new book coming out in January called Midlife Bites, like a play on Reality Bites, by Jenn Mann who wrote People I Want to Punch in the Throat. It’s all about what to expect in the most irreverent way. I was like, oh, okay, thank you. I am now warned of everything. Some has already started. Some has not. Thank you for that. I feel like there needs to be more solidarity as we all .

Emily: I know. I take great comfort in certain — I think we all, depending on our age, have certain celebrities that we kind of look to and be like, it’s all going to be okay because Jennifer Aniston turned fifty, and she’s happy. She looks great. There’s always still hope.

Zibby: Paulina Porizkova, she’s in her bathing suit all the time. Look at her. We’re all going to be fine. Not that I looked like her before, but somehow, when I get that age, I’m going to turn into her. Oh, my gosh, I wish. Anyway, the part of your story, though, that really struck me is, you’re like, then my book didn’t sell, so I decided to write another one. I was not as brave and did not — I actually ended up ghostwriting a book after that because I was like, okay, that’s fine. Then I’ll write, but I don’t have to put my heart on the line again. How did you steel yourself? Where did you find that determination?

Emily: I don’t know. You characterized it as brave. I don’t think that’s a fair characterization because it was really more about, how much did I hate what I was doing, versus, how much did you hate what you were doing? Sometimes misery can be really motivating. If you leave a relationship where the guy’s cheating on you left and right and he’s terrible and he makes you miserable and he degrades you, yeah, that’s great that you liberate yourself from that. It’s great if you liberate yourself from a job where you’re really miserable. That still requires some level of gumption. I think the real bravery is when you leave those just-good-enough situations when you’re getting a really nice paycheck and you don’t hate what you’re doing but you also don’t feel super fulfilled or you’re with a guy who’s perfectly nice and great on paper but you don’t feel, necessarily, in love and you feel like you’re at the right age and you get married anyway. I think the people who walk away from those careers and those relationships are really the brave ones compared to what I was doing at the time.

I will own that it did take a certain amount of determination and a certain amount of having some faith in myself. I’m grateful looking back that I had that crushing disappointment, really, of working for something for five years and getting an agent, which they always say is the hard part — they say if you get an agent, you’re in really good shape to get published. Well, I got an agent, and it wasn’t published. I’m grateful now for that because I feel that I appreciated it so much more when it did happen with Something Borrowed. Also, as a parent, you have three children. They’re teenagers now. My twin sons were born New Year’s Eve ’03, so just six months before Something Borrowed came out. Then my daughter’s a few years younger than that. You have that built-in story of the disappointments that have come along the way. The older you get, the greater the disappointments, in some way. I guess it’s all relative. I remember my son, George, had an own goal in soccer. He was so happy because he thought he had scored a goal for his team. The sinking realization that it was an own goal, oh, my gosh, he’s like, “I’ve never felt worse in my whole life. I’ll never get over it.” I’m like, “Yes, you will. You will. You will get over it.” It was a good reminder to me as a mother that things are so relative.

Zibby: I also have twins, by the way. I’m just going to copy your life here. I have twins. They were born in 2007. Then I waited six years, sort of — I mean, she waited six years to show up. Then I had a daughter and then another son after that seventeen months later.

Emily: That’s awesome. I love that.

Zibby: So I’m well-aware of the value of all of my failures.

Emily: 2007, what months were your twins?

Zibby: June. They just turned fourteen.

Emily: My daughter Harriet just turned fourteen in May. We were pregnant at the same time.

Zibby: We should get them together. I have a really cute son.

Emily: Harriet’s — well, I shouldn’t say anything about — I’ve made an effort not to say anything about their personal lives now that they’re teenagers.

Zibby: I know. I shouldn’t even say, but I think everybody thinks their son and daughters are cute. I’ll just leave it at that.

Emily: I think we should introduce them. Is he on Instagram?

Zibby: Yes. We’ll have to do this privately because I never tag him or anything. So the book that I wrote right after 9/11 was very similar, sort of, to this, although not as interesting a plot. It was about a couple that gets together with 9/11 at the centerpiece of it. I did get an agent like you. We sent it out. Although, in retrospect, if I could go back to myself then, first of all, I don’t think the book was good enough, but I would’ve sent it out to more people. A lot of the publishers at the time said that it was too soon, that nobody wanted to read about 9/11 in fiction. Now I’m like, okay, twenty years later, I’m reading your book, which is amazing. I’m totally ready to read about it in fiction. Now I actually have a memoir coming out next September, a year from September, called The Book Messenger. I just finished writing all of the stuff that happened to me at this time. I’m like, oh, my gosh, it’s like, .

Emily: That’s wild. I love that.

Zibby: I’ll have to send it to you.

Emily: Would you ever pull that manuscript out and resubmit it?

Zibby: You know what? I included, I feel like, enough of the pieces that were at the — I turned it into a novel. I wrote it like four times. I shouldn’t make this about me.

Emily: No, share.

Zibby: I wrote that book like four times. I wrote it first as a memoir. Then I wrote two separate drafts of it as a novel. I ended up getting married. I got divorced. I started a new relationship. I then remarried this guy, so then I wrote another memoir that I turned into a novel called 40-Love about finding love again at forty. Both of these didn’t work.

Emily: Wait, did you remarry the same guy?

Zibby: No, I remarried a new guy.

Emily: Okay. Harriet has a friend whose mother got a divorce and then married the same guy.

Zibby: No, I married a new guy. I remarried in general. Anyway, point is, I keep trying to turn memoir into novels to disguise things, but it’s not working. I’m just much better at writing real-life stuff.

Emily: For now. You never know, though. You can take some of those parts that didn’t deal with 9/11 and rework it into a novel.

Zibby: All to say, I took bits and pieces of both of those abandoned projects and threw them into my memoir, the parts that were true. We’ll see if it works.

Emily: Here’s another similarity. I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this in an interview, ever, in whatever this is, fifteen years. I got a divorce, too, after a year of marriage.

Zibby: No way.

Emily: Little fun fact. We have that in common too. This is freaky.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, what else? Are you a Leo?

Emily: No, Pisces.

Zibby: Okay. All right, fine. Summer camp?

Emily: We could go there. We could work on that. Maybe we could write a novel together about summer camp. I’d be the counselor since I’m five years older.

Zibby: Perfect. I’ll be the camper crying and wanting to go home.

Emily: Same.

Zibby: Eating too many cookies.

Emily: Perpetually homesick.

Zibby: Oh, my gosh, I was just saying — my kids are not going to sleepaway camp this summer; they’re all going to be at day camps and counselors and stuff — that I got so sad my first summer at sleepaway camp. I was eight years old. I went away for eight weeks. That was not good for my personality in any way. I learned how to make butter and sugar sandwiches. I would take the white, springy Wonder Bread and put all this butter on and then slather on the sugar. I can still feel the crystals of sugar. Anyway, that’s how I got through sleepaway camp.

Emily: That sounds so incredibly comforting.

Zibby: It was. It was great.

Emily: Who wrote that book, I can’t think of her name, Quiet, about introverts? Susan…?

Zibby: Susan Cain, maybe?

Emily: Yeah, I think that sounds right. Susan one-syllable last name. If your listeners haven’t read that, definitely pick it up. Also, she does a podcast or TED Talk about it, so sort of condensed version. In that, she talks about summer camp and how some kids are just not meant for summer camp. I was not meant for it. My daughter Harriet’s at camp today, but it’s day camp. She comes home at night and gets in her own bed. Are you an introvert?

Zibby: I think I am an extrovert, but I have a lot of social anxiety. I used to, at least. I’ve been very shy my whole life until now, I guess. I like to be around people, but then I do need to regroup. I don’t know. I feel like I don’t have a clear-cut answer. I keep taking quizzes, and it’s not clear. How about you?

Emily: I guess there has to be someone that’s truly right smack-dab in the middle, so maybe that’s you. I’ve described myself as a socially adept introvert. Hopefully, for the most part, I’m socially adept. I feel like I can fake it really well. People sometimes are like, you’re not an introvert. You’re talkative. I’m like, that’s not the definition of an introvert. Maybe it should come down to, do you like summer camp? Maybe it should come down to that.

Zibby: I was reading the whole time at summer camp. I have a lot of independent tendencies. I love to read. I love to write. I would be fine spending the entire day by myself.

Emily: Okay, you’re an introvert. Zibby, for real, either read Quiet or watch her TED Talk. There’s a whole section on that. When you were growing up, did you like the group projects?

Zibby: Hate.

Emily: Hated, right?

Zibby: Hated group projects.

Emily: Yeah, you’re an introvert. You’re just fooling yourself because you can go out and have a good time and be social, but that’s not what the definition is. It’s more about — just watch the talk.

Zibby: I’ll do more research on it.

Emily: Then come back to me because I think of you as a kindred spirit on this one.

Zibby: Now that there are things opening up, I’m not like, oh, thank god. I’m like, really? Do I need to do that? How many of these things do I need to do? I like to plan it. I like to throw parties. I like to be in control of everything. I like to be like, okay, come at twelve, but leave at two. That’s enough for me. Maybe you’re right now that I think about it.

Emily: Do you debate ever? Well, maybe two thirty?

Zibby: Of course. Do I debate ever? I did this literally yesterday for my daughter’s birthday party.

Emily: Same with my daughter. She’s like, “It’s not your birthday party. You don’t have to do anything anymore. I’m fourteen.” I’m like, “Still, there’s going to be parent pickup. I have to know, what’s the window? How much small talk will there need to be?” That’s very interesting. The pandemic, in that way — I feel guilty saying it. I want to make it clear, there’s nothing good about what we’ve all been through, but there have been some silver linings, I guess you could say. One of them, for me, has been that time where you don’t have to do those things. You can read more. You can think more. I don’t know about you, but we had dinner together as a family loosely. It was more like standing around the kitchen counter and serving yourself. Maybe three people were sitting down. Someone else was off at a piano lesson. Really since the spring of last year, we eat dinner together as a family five days a week. That all, in our case, was pretty much all pandemic-driven, all COVID-driven. Obviously, I would gladly give up all the family dinners to have all those people not have had to suffer the way they have, but there have been some silver linings. I’m not looking forward to this fall of the full-on return to all of it.

Zibby: I know. My husband’s mother and grandmother passed away from COVID. We were in charge of their care. His mother had this six-week protracted, horrific illness. It was awful. Then of course, you finish all that, and we were still in the middle of the pandemic. Now I’m spilling my life story. I feel so bad. I should not even be recording this. It’s like a conversation just between the two of us. Yes, I still feel the same as you do. There were benefits to taking time out from life for everybody on the planet, especially for people who are happy to think things through and regroup and figure out what’s important and what gives our lives purpose and meaning. I started driving my little guys to school and doing the school drop-off recently. I was just like, this is what I’m so excited about it? This is back to normal? I miss this? This is terrible. Is this all there is now that life is back? I have to cross this park like a thousand more times this year? It makes you wonder.

Emily: I know. Have you read Amanda Kloots’ book yet?

Zibby: I’m interviewing her tomorrow on Instagram Live.

Emily: Oh, you are?

Zibby: Yeah. Is today Wednesday? Yeah, tomorrow at five or six or something. How about you? Did you read it?

Emily: I’m in the middle of reading it. I just got it. I adore her. Talk about finding the silver linings and the positive. She and her sister are just both so amazing and such an inspiration. For you to have lost people and her to be able to say that there were moments of beauty of the past year, it says a lot about how strong you guys are. She’s amazing. That’s going to be a great interview. I’m excited for you to .

Zibby: I’m excited for that too. Anyway, back to your career and everything, what are you working on next? What books do you have in the pipeline? What are you excited about?

Emily: Let’s see. The Lies That Bind, we’re working on making that into a limited series with the same producers who did Something Borrowed, Molly and Rachel Smith, Black Label Media. We have an actress. For some reason, it’s not time to announce that yet, but an actress I think is wonderful and will really nail Cecily. I’m really excited about that. We’re just putting some of the pieces of it together. That’s one thing, that project. There’s a few other film and TV things I’m working on. For the most part, other than my motherhood duties and that part of life, my main focus is always just the next novel. I really admire these authors who are able to write their book and adapt something that they wrote before and have one hand in LA and be working that. I’m more like calling my producers and my friends and saying, what have you guys done? What’s the next step? For me, I just prefer — maybe, again, it’s that introvert piece — but just working on my next novel. That’s what I’m mostly doing, is writing right now. That’ll be due in the fall. The book will come out next summer. It’s a relationship-driven story, as all of mine are, about the messiness of relationships and finding yourself as you fall in love and fall out of love and fall back in love. A lot of those themes are ones that I often explore along with this idea of forgiveness and forgiving ourselves and forgiving others.

Characters in The Lies That Bind, of course, did some things that some people can’t forgive them for. Some readers are saying, I didn’t like him or her at the end. That’s always, I know, a risk that I’m taking with the kind of stories that I tell and the situations that I put my characters in. I feel that they’re good people. They make unsympathetic choices at times, but I think they all are good people at heart, which really is how I think of all of us. If you line up all of our choices that we’ve made, there’s some really unsympathetic ones. There are times that we needed to be forgiven and other times where we’re forgiving others. I think that’s the journey of what it’s all about. Life is just so messy and complicated. We’re all these works-in-progress. Those are always the things I like to explore with my characters even at the risk of sometimes making them unlikable. The way I see it is if I can write this story about a girl falling in love with her best friend’s fiancée and having an affair with him in the months leading up to a wedding and having the groom-to-be have an affair with his fiancée’s best friend and I can make people like them more than they liked the bride-to-be, then I’m always hopeful that there’s hope for all of us and any one of my characters. That’s always in the back of my mind. People forgave Rachel.

It always surprises me, though, what people are more judgmental about, readers and people in real life. My sister and my mother and my friends and I are harsher critics about — the two books that I wrote where I feel like they were the very harshest about my heroines were Baby Proof where the first line of that book is, “I never wanted to be a mother –” That book came out in 2007 when my daughter was born, so I had three under three. It begs the question, why was I writing about a woman who didn’t want to be a mother? I could certainly relate to the value of having a child-free life rather than a childless life. I remember my editor saying, “You cannot make Claudia — you cannot redeem her after that first sentence of ‘I never wanted to be a mother.’ She’s unlikable out of the gate.” I’m like, “Well, that’s what the story’s about. I’m going to try to make her likable.” That, to me, was so interesting and said so much about the last taboo — not to talk about a book that came out in 2007, but I am working on the film version of that with some friends. I think that’s changing a little bit, how we view that statement and our reaction to that statement. I think in many ways, we still have that sort of bias against women who feel that way.

It’s one thing if you can’t have them. Then you’re sort of this object of, oh, she wasn’t able to. She did in vitro five times. Didn’t work out. The women who are just like, no, not interested, I feel like we’re still judging more harshly. To think that that woman could’ve been judged more harshly than the woman who was having an affair behind her best friend’s back, I don’t know, that was interesting. The other one was a girl who fell in love with her best friend’s father. There was no infidelity in that book because the mother had died. People were like, that’s so gross. They’re twenty years in age difference or whatever. That one surprised me too. That, to me, is really the fun part as an author in many ways, other than just creating this fictional world where you don’t have to do an end time. You don’t have to say twelve to two, Zibby. You just close your laptop, and you’re done with them for the day. You don’t have to do the endless goodbyes and, okay, it was good seeing you. You just close the laptop. The other really fun part about writing for me is that whole thing of, life is messy. Let’s explore it. Maybe they won’t be redeemed in the eyes of all readers. Hopefully, at the very least, I’m able to make people see their point of view a little more. I think it all comes down to that. Empathy in life and fiction is just seeing things from another point of view.

Zibby: Awesome. Nobody knows what people are really going through in real life. You can only judge on the surface. Last question because I could continue this for way too long. What advice would you have for aspiring authors?

Emily: One thing that I hear a lot of writers say is, I am an aspiring writer. I’m glad that you said aspiring author because if you’re writing at all, you’re already a writer. I think it’s important to remember that getting published, it’s a lot of dumb luck involved with that. We’ve all read books that we think are terrible or that we didn’t like. For every one of those books, there’s this sparkling, near-perfect manuscript that just never saw the light of day because maybe the editor who read it had already bought something like that the month before. She didn’t want two books about a cheating fiancée. The person gave up or they got married and had a kid and they didn’t return to it. I guess what I’m saying is, if you’re rejected along the way, you’re still a writer. Your voice is still valid and important. If it’s important to you to get published, pursue it. Continue it. Be dogged about it. The people who run a marathon, if we lined up our friends — I’ve never run a marathon. Zibby, have you? Okay, good. Another thing. I was like, please say no, please say no.

Zibby: No.

Emily: Some of our friends who have run a marathon aren’t necessarily the most athletic, but they do it because they decide to do it. I feel like that analogy is important. If you really want to publish, just stay after it. Believe in yourself. Don’t let your identity turn on these artificial answers that you’re getting from other people. They’re not turning you down. They’re not even turning your writing down. They’re just saying, this isn’t commercially viable for me this week. I think that’s important to remember that for those who want to be published. There’s so many writers out there who, it’s not terribly important to get that validation or to share the story with the world. They’re doing it for themselves. I would say that’s probably my biggest piece of advice. Believe in yourself. Keep writing. Do what you love no matter what that is, like you’re doing, Zibby. I cannot wait for your book. I’m so excited.

Zibby: Aw, thank you. I just recently — this is my last thing. I’ll let you go. I just joined Noom, the weight loss app. I don’t know if you’ve heard of it.

Emily: Oh, yeah, of course.

Zibby: I decided to try it. They said the one-number predictor of whether or not it would work for you is if you believe it will work for you. That’s it. That’s all you have to do, is believe it. How easy is that? I felt like that was so applicable to writing. If you believe at one point you are going to publish your book, you probably will, but you have to believe it. If you don’t, then forget it.

Emily: Then you probably won’t.

Zibby: Then you almost definitely won’t if you don’t believe it.

Emily: You might. I don’t know that I believed that I would publish Something Borrowed, but I hoped and occasionally believed it, which might be good enough, occasional. That is so interesting.

Zibby: You believed you would write something that was worth seeing. You just knew it.

Emily: On some level. Now I have to check out Noom too.

Zibby: Noom is great. It’s been five days, but so far, so good.

Emily: The pandemic — maybe it’s also just the amount of wine that I’ve consumed in the past year. Maybe if I just quit with that, that would be a great start.

Zibby: That’s why I started “Moms Don’t Have Time to Lose Weight.” I had all this pandemic weight. I was like, I can’t be the only one. Am I? Turns out, no.

Emily: No, you’re not.

Zibby: This was so fun. Thank you. I feel like I just hung out with a new friend or whatever.

Emily: I know. I feel the same. You can be my mentee since you’re five years younger.

Zibby: I will gladly be your mentee. You can show me the ropes. I would love it.

Emily: I’m totally kidding. I could learn so much more from you. Thank you so much for having me on. I enjoyed it so much. Tell Amanda I said hi tomorrow.

Zibby: I will.

Emily: Thanks, Zibby.

Zibby: Bye.

Emily: Bye.


THE LIES THAT BIND by Emily Giffin

Purchase your copy on Amazon or Bookshop!

You can also listen to this episode on:

Apple Podcasts