Reading Group Guide
A Conversation with Emily Liebert
Q: Some Women takes place in Connecticut, where you reside. How much did your own town influence the fictional Eastport?
A: I tend to write what I know. So yes, there are certain similarities in the overall culture and some of the stereotypes. My main characters aren’t based on any particular individuals in my life, but there are always aspects of my characters that have been inspired by my friends, family, and occasionally people I don’t particularly care for. If there’s one thing I’m sure of, it’s that everyone I know will ask me if (insert name of character) is them! But I’ll never tell. . . .
Q: Your four novels have closely examined women’s lives and the relationships we foster in our lives. Is this theme something you’re passionate about exploring further?
A: Yes! I think there’s endless material there. I believe that women are ever-evolving throughout the course of their lives. I know I am. There are so many different relationships, life stages, struggles, experiences—both good and bad—to live through. And people deal with things in very diverse ways. I’m fascinated by this and definitely plan to dig deeper and deeper into what truly makes women (and men) tick.
Q: What inspired the story line for Some Women?
A: At the beginning of the book, the three main characters barely know one another. In fact, Annabel and Mackenzie have never even met. Ultimately, they’re brought together by a barre class that they all take—it’s a group fitness class which is a combination of yoga, Pilates, and ballet. (While Piper and Mackenzie do work at the same company, they hardly interacted before connecting through barre.) As it happens, I started taking the same sort of class at Pure Barre in Westport two years ago. I fell in love. Not only because it changed my body and made me infinitely stronger—physically and mentally—but because it became a sanctuary for me. A place where I could go and focus on myself (and only myself) for fifty-five minutes in class. Like the characters in the book, I made a few close friends there. They’re not the friends who I typically socialize with or whose kids are friends with mine. Our husbands have never met. But we have a mutual bond. So that’s where the original nugget of an idea came from. Beyond that, I knew I wanted to focus on three strong yet very different women, each of whom was confronted with a major life-altering change, and to depict how the ripple effects spread through their lives.
Q: Are these life-altering changes what draw each of them to the other two women?
A: Absolutely. Honestly, I don’t know whether Annabel, Piper, and Mackenzie would be friends under normal circumstances. Yet once they’re thrust into one another’s personal lives unexpectedly, they form an immediate bond. It’s almost as if the universe connected them at a time when they each desperately needed to find a way to fill a void. They’re able to support and bolster one another in ways that the other people in their lives—people they’ve known for years—cannot.
Q: Do you think it’s a challenge for women to make new friendships as adults?
A: I think it depends on the person. I moved to a new town two years ago knowing not a single person. In that time, I’ve met so many inspiring women, many of whom have become close friends. That said, if you’re not outgoing, it can certainly be difficult. Or if you’re someone who doesn’t like to get out and experience different things, it can certainly be challenging. Having school-aged children can make a big difference because it allows you to meet other moms with whom you definitely have at least one thing in common.
Q: You’re a mother to two young children. Did any of your parenting experiences inform the relationship between Piper and Fern?
A: Since my children are younger (five and six years old) and they’re both boys, my experiences are more closely related to Annabel’s experiences with Harper and Hudson than they are with Piper and Fern’s relationship. That said, I have friends with daughters who are Fern’s age and I remember my own relationship with my mom, so that helped in depicting the nuances of their relationship.
Q: What influenced you to choose Charlotte’s Web as Fern’s most beloved book?
A: It’s my favorite book! I write about friendship and love. To me, the greatest literary depiction of those two things is the bond between Charlotte and Wilbur. It’s so pure. So forgiving. And so poignant. I just read it to my kids recently and I was weeping by the end.
Q: What advice can you offer to burgeoning authors?
A: My advice is to write what you’re passionate about. Also, you should aim to put words to paper as often as you can, even if you’re not feeling it on a given day. I’m at my best when I write at least five days in a row. And, finally, develop a thick skin. There’s a lot of rejection in this business. We’ve all been there. Just tell yourself quitting is not an option and when a door is slammed in your face, kick it in!
Q: What’s next for you?
A: I’m hard at work on my sixth book. And already brainstorming for the many I hope to write after that. Outside of the literary world, I’m working even harder at being the best mom I can be to my five- and six-year-old sons—that is the most awesome (and most challenging!) job I could ever ask for.