Be My Guest: Author Emily Belden

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I am very excited to introduce a new series to my blog, Be My Guest, where I post short interviews with various professionals that I think you all will enjoy/need to know about!


To christen this series is Emily Belden, author of the book Eightysixed, a novel about the crazy adventures of a twenty-something Chicagoan who stumbles through the dating game like a pro.

I had the fantastic opportunity to read Emily's book, which I admittedly chose to read over homework more than once (shh!), and ask her a few questions about how it all came together. Take a look at her answers below and be sure to check out the book - available in paperback, on your Kindle or Nook!


ELJ: I have to start with a cliche question; what made you decide to write Eightysixed? Was it written from the first to the last page or did you write bits here and there before piecing it together?

EB: Eightysixed existed long before it was ever Eightysixed. It was my "Dear Diary" on steroids; the only thing I could do to feel better after suffering a massive heartbreak. I felt like I couldn't talk to anyone about it, so I kept it between me and my laptop. I wrote it bit by bit and it eventually turned into a chronicle of what it's like to be a 20-something struggling with wanting it all and having no clue. At some point, I just said to myself, "This could be a book!" So I made it one...


ELJ: A lot of writers struggle to find their voice, yet you pull off the witty, relatable narrative flawlessly. What gives? 

EB: The trick is to be nobody but yourself when you write. Ditch the pen-names, alter egos, and forget anything anyone has ever told you about how to write. Get your laptop out, pour a glass of wine, and let it rip. You'll be surprised at how good "honesty" and "vulnerability" sound on paper.

ELJ: The story follows your love life from college to post-grad through all the lessons you learned. What is your biggest piece of advice for twenty-somethings struggling in the dating game?
EB: I refuse to say "Let love find you," because that is some white-girl advice and really frustrating (am I right?). So what I'll say is this: there is no instruction guide on how to live your 20s. They are defined by mistakes, confusing text messages, and questionable outfit choices. So just go with it, and don't get hung up on the flaws. 

ELJ: There are a lot of crazy moments in your story, but off the pages, what was the most insane moment you had while going through the process of publication? 

EB: Probably seeing my book cover for the first time. We went through a few iterations that I knew weren't going to cut it for the final. I sent them back to the drawing board a handful of times and I'm sure they hated me for it. But one day, when it was time for them to present their latest, the butterflies just flooded my stomach as I braced my eyes for their concept. It was love at first sight. I had no changes after I saw the illustration. I knew it was "it."

ELJ: While we're at it, can you give me a run-down of the process of being published? Any favorite or absolutely dreadful parts of it all?
EB: Publishing is a trying process. It makes you doubt everything you ever thought you knew about yourself, your story, and your "talent." It wasn't until I had a big break by being featured in a Forbes article that publishers (who previously said "no") suddenly became interested; very interested. I went from no options to having my pick of people to work with. What a crazy world publishing is. 

ELJ: What is the best advice you can give to aspiring writers out there? 

EB: Write like no one else will ever read your work. There are so many chapters of this book that I could not have written if I sat there and thought, "My mother is going to read this." Or, "What will my future in-laws think of this?" I had to just do this all for myself, and the readers out there who I knew would "get it" and benefit from this ultimately very touching story.

ELJ: You also have a blog, Total E-Bag, which is a mecca for insightful thoughts and advice. How did your blog come about? Did it impact the writing of Eightysixed at all? 

EB: A few strange things happened to me and I didn't want to have 10 different phone calls with friends retelling the same story. So I put it in a blog, and sent out the link. Next thing I knew, it was named Wordpress #37 out of the top 100 blogs, and was featured as a "freshly pressed" post on their homepage. From there, I had a following who have stuck with me to read my crazy life observations. Many of the posts were inspiration for the book (or vice versa) and you'll hear the same voice on the blog as in the book. A lot of my followers were waiting for something longer than 400 words, so Eightysixed was a big treat for them when it came out!
ELJ: Finally, I must ask, can we expect another novel from you a few years down the road? 
EB: Absolutely! The next one is a work of fiction called Six Months and will be finished this year!


If you loved what Emily had to say here, head on over to Amazon & order your copy of Eightysixed before they all fly off the shelves! 


XOXO,
Em

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