An Exclusive Excerpt of Your Next Favorite Book (Not an Exaggeration)
YA author and Buzzfeed editor Katie Heaney shares her new novel and her best advice.
Two years ago, Katie Heaney wrote a relevatory—and really, really charming—memoir called Never Have I Ever, named after the always classic, occasionally cringe-inducing icebreaker game and inspired by her “life (so far) without a date.” Fortunately, she realized that dates are overrated, because the Buzzfeed editor by day managed to write yet another must-read in her free time.
Dear Emma, which hits shelves tomorrow, is about a college girl who masquerades as the campus advice columnist and ends up needing some serious life wisdom of her own. Because Katie is the coolest, she gave us an exclusive excerpt—and some insight into what she’d ask an advice columnist. "When I was a teen, probably: 'Why do none of the popular boys I like, whom I have never spoken to, like me?,' Now? I would probably ask something more focused on my anxiety. I'm prone to over-analyzing, big-time, and usually I just want someone to tell me to stop." In other words, super awesome authors: They're just like you!
Ahead, read the first bit of Dear Emma, and then just try not to immediately order the book. (Disclaimer: Don't actually try not to; do it now!)
"I guess what I am wondering is: is he dead?" I clutched my phone in my left hand and squinted at its screen, as if, like a Magic 8 Ball, it might produce a response to my question. Instead, my roommate Logan did. "It doesn’t seem that likely to me that he is not texting you back because he is dead,” she said. "There’s a first time for everything,” I said. "I could be the first girl who can say, ‘The guy I was seeing stopped texting me back, and I didn’t know why, but then I found out he fell off of a mountain before he could hit send. He text-walked off a mountain.’ There could be a tragic movie about me, like A Walk to Remember."
"This is not like A Walk to Remember."
"It has some similar elements," I said. “Not really."
"Well. Whatever. The last time I checked, last night, he hadn’t done anything on Facebook in forty-nine hours. So I think his continued survival is very much uncertain."
"I just saw him on Friday," said my other roommate, Mel, who walked out of her bedroom, where she had been, I thought, watching something on her laptop—YouTube videos of international boy bands I’d never heard of, probably—with headphones on.
"You always join conversations in the middle," said Logan. "The moment you start listening is the moment you should come out here. Instead of lurking."
"I was catching up from my bed. I was like, ‘Oh my god, maybe he IS dead and Harriet knows something I don’t,'" said Mel, who took two chocolate chip cookies from a package on top of the refrigerator, poured herself a glass of milk, and sat down next to Logan, across from me. She lowered one of the cookies into her glass and held it there.
"Where did you see him? And what time?" I asked her. I flipped my phone over on its face, as if to punish it. For a moment I thought about getting up to put it on the floor in the corner of the kitchen, to give it a proper time-out, but the dull pulsing behind my forehead confirmed that standing up right now, or making any unnecessary movement, was a bad idea.
"Ummm, I’m not really sure,” said Mel.
"What?” said Logan.
"WHAT??” I said.
"You guys know I don’t recall narrative details well!!” said Mel, repeating a phrase we’d often told her ourselves.
"Yeah, but, this was two days ago,” I said. “Right? Are you sure it was Friday? Or could it have been upward of...sixty-one hours ago?”
"No, it was definitely Friday, I think. Because, I remember”—and here she pointed first at me, and then at Logan—"I was in the hallway on the upper level of NSC, so I must have been on my way to TA hours for Organic Chem,” she said. NSC was the Natural Sciences Center, where she and Logan practically lived. Mel crossed her arms and smiled proudly.
"Congratulations,” said Logan, putting her hand on Mel’s right shoulder. "You have a modest capacity for placing events from your own life in chronological order.”
"What did he look like?” I asked Mel, already imagining it— he’d have been limping, first of all. He’d have been wearing a torn shirt and jeans, and had one arm in a sling, and gauze wrapped around one eye. Or both eyes. It would actually explain a lot if he’d become blind in both eyes. I felt a little better.
"Ummm, I think he was wearing, like...some shirt?” said Mel.
"Mel,” said Logan.
"What! It was like, two seconds! I didn’t even notice that it was him until he had already passed me. All I registered was that it was him,” said Mel.
"But did he seem, like...sad, or anything?” I asked her. “Or...disoriented at all?”
"I don’t know, it was two seconds.”
"Just try to remember anything.”
"I guess he could have been sort of frowning,” she said. “Yeah. His lips must have looked extra tiny, because as I passed him I was like, ‘Did that guy even have a mouth?’"
"What do you mean by ‘extra’?” I asked.
"He has the smallest lips I’ve ever seen on anyone in my whole life,” said Mel. "Including babies."
"Maybe that’s why he can’t communicate," said Logan.