Tuesday, May 23, 2023

Audrey Bellezza & Emily Harding's new twist on an old tale...plus a book giveaway

L to R: Harding and Bellezza; Photo by by Monika Normand

Today we are pleased to welcome Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding, who are celebrating the publication of their debut novel, Emma of 83rd Street. It is a modern day retelling of Jane Austen's Emma, set in Manhattan. Thanks to Gallery, we have THREE copies to give away!

Audrey Bellezza is a two-time Emmy-nominated TV producer who has spent over twenty years writing, developing, and executive producing nonfiction television shows for a number of networks and streaming platforms. Audrey lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. Visit Audrey on Twitter and Instagram.

Emily Harding is a writer and TV producer whose work has appeared on numerous networks and websites. When not hunched over her computer working on her bad posture, she can be found losing another game of Monopoly to her husband and two kids. Visit Emily on Twitter and Instagram.

Visit Audrey and Emily at their website and on their joint Instagram page.

Beautiful, clever, and rich, Emma Woodhouse has lived twenty-three years in her tight-knit Upper East Side neighborhood with very little to distress or vex her…that is, until her budding matchmaking hobby results in her sister’s marriage—and subsequent move downtown. Now, with her sister gone and all her friends traveling abroad, Emma must start her final year of grad school grappling with an entirely new emotion: boredom. So when she meets Nadine, a wide-eyed Ohio transplant with a heart of gold and drugstore blonde highlights to match, Emma not only sees a potential new friend but a new project. If only her overbearing neighbor George Knightley would get out of her way.

Handsome, smart, and successful, the only thing that frustrates Knightley more than a corked whiskey is his childhood friend, Emma. Whether it’s her shopping sprees between classes or her revolving door of ill-conceived hobbies, he is only too happy to lecture her on all the finer points of adulthood she’s so hell-bent on ignoring. But despite his gripes—and much to his own chagrin—Knightley can’t help but notice that the girl next door is a woman now…one who he suddenly can’t get out of his head.

As Emma’s best laid plans collide with everyone from hipster baristas to meddling family members to flaky playboy millionaires, these two friends slowly realize their need to always be right has been usurped by a new need entirely, and it’s not long before they discover that even the most familiar stories still have some surprises. (Courtesy of Amazon.)

"Fans of Jane Austen: meet Audrey Bellezza and Emily Harding. Our beloved Emma returns in this fresh, utterly charming, feel-good retelling of an enduring classic. Whip-smart, pitch-perfect, and newly minted."
—Julie Valerie, author of Holly Banks Full of Angst 

“The best romantic comedy I’ve ever read. A sparkling take on Emma that would make Jane Austen proud.”
—Lauren Layne, New York Times bestselling author of Made in Manhattan

What were the easiest and hardest parts about writing a book together? 
Emily: In a roundabout sort of way, the hard bits ended up being the easiest because we did it all together. When we first decided to tackle a retelling of Emma, we did it to keep each other sane, so the decision was simple. Once it was finished and things started happening, it could easily have become overwhelming, but the fact that we were going through it together meant every issue, every revision, was shared. 

Audrey: I completely agree. And I’ll just add that writing this book together allows us to share all our successes, false starts, ups and downs, and milestones with each other. We have someone else to lean on. What a gift. If it’s deadlines or rough patches to get through with a revision or amazing news about our book, we get to experience all of it together.  

What sets Emma of 83rd Street apart from the other Emma adaptations out there?
Audrey: Our Emma is set in Manhattan’s Upper East Side and we draw from many of our own personal experiences having lived there for years. 

Emily: So many. And Emma is such a timeless character, she fits into a modern setting really well.  Honestly, I think that’s what makes her so special, and every adaptation of her story unique. Yes, she’s self-absorbed and spoiled, but she’s also a young woman trying to find herself. She’s confident and independent, and learns the depths of her humility and kindness over the course of the novel. Most women who have navigated their twenties can relate to that, regardless of time period or location. 

Audrey: Can I just add, the more Emma adaptations there are out there, the better! 

If Emma of 83rd Street were made into a movie, who would you cast in the lead roles? 
Audrey: This is such a great question because the way that we wrote the book together was to cast it first so we were both on the same page, then start writing. 

Emily: Because we both come from a TV background, we did full casting sheets for each character, so we would always go back to reference. I think this is one of those parts that should have been hard but ended up being so easy. Also so much fun. I also think it’s so fun for the reader to imagine their own perfect cast too, so I don’t want to give ours away! 

Which TV series are you currently binge watching?
Audrey: Daisy Jones and the Six on Amazon Prime, based on the novel by Taylor Jenkins Reid. You never know what will happen when you adapt a book to television, but all the parties involved did an amazing job bringing this book to life. The rock-n-roll angsty love story exceeded my expectations and the casting was perfect. Also, on Amazon Prime, there’s a new series called Jury Duty that cracked me up. I stayed up way too late finishing that one! 

Emily: And then you told me to watch it and I stayed up way too late finishing it! Honestly though, Jury Duty is such a great show and now I’m recommending it to everyone too. Another series on Prime that I binged is The Power. It’s based on Naomi Alderman’s fantastic 2019 book. I’m crossing everything that we get a season two.  

What is something you are looking forward to this summer?
Audrey: I’m most looking forward to this book launching and honestly anything that has to do with promoting the book! Also I’m counting down the days until summer break so I can sit at our community pool or head down the shore and finally get to my TBR list. Most importantly, my sister is expecting a baby and I cannot wait to meet my niece. 

Emily: Yes, the book launch! It feels like we’ve been keeping this secret for ages–I’m excited for it to be out there and to discuss all our favorite plot points with readers. 

If we were to visit you right now, what are some places you would take us to see?
Audrey: What a fun question! We’d walk into town only half a mile away and stop at my favorite bakery for some banana bread, maybe hit up the art store, our wonderful local bookstore, then grab a drink and dinner at one of the restaurants. This is basically what I do with my family most weekends!

Emily: I’m down in Dallas now, and it’s honestly become one of my favorite cities so I’d love to show it off. We’d probably start down in the Bishop Arts District where we’d grab some pizza at Eno’s and maybe a print or two from We Are 1976. And while I’d love to then head Downtown to see the museums (which are fantastic), I’m afraid my kids would insist on taking you on a hike around White Rock Lake to search for snakes. I’m sorry, but they’re obsessed.

Thanks to Audrey and Emily for chatting with us and to Gallery for sharing their book with our readers.

How to win: Use Rafflecopter to enter the giveaway. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us. If you have trouble using Rafflecopter on our blog, enter the giveaway here

Giveaway ends May 29th at midnight EST.

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Rita Wray said...

My favorite is the book Pride and Prejudice.

Toni Laliberte said...

My favorite adaptation is the show Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth. He's dreamy in it. 😍

traveler said...

Pride, Prejudice and other flavors by Sonali Dev

diannekc said...

Pride and Prejudice is one of my favorite books.

dstoutholcomb said...

Pride and Prejudice

Mary Patricia Bird said...

I actually haven't read any. :/

Mary Preston said...

The Colin Firth version of P&P.

Nancy said...

My favorite adaptation of any Jane Austen novel is the Pride and Prejudice movie released in 2005 starring Keira Knightly.

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Lisa D said...

I loved Pride & Prejudice, the 2005 film with Keira Knightley and Matthew Macfadyen.

Xia Lee said...

Pride and Prejudice.

Lelandlee said...

Got to be Pride and Prejudice

Summer said...

The Colin Firth version of Pride and Prejudice.

Nancy P said...

I remember watching Pride & Prejudice on television. As it was some time ago, I unfortunately don't recall who made it available for viewing but it left quite an impression.

bn100 said...