If you’re looking for a quick bio, here’s what accompanies my published work:
Emily C. Whitson is a former marketing copywriter and a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill with a major in journalism. She is now pursuing a Master of Education with a specialization in English Literature at Vanderbilt University.
Emily is a mystery and thriller author with a focus on contemporary pop culture. Her work explores the intersection of suspense and entertainment, the dark side of celebrity and Hollywood glamour.
However, if you’re looking for more of a personal story — and I do love a first-person narrative — then I’ll do my best to share that here:
I didn’t always know I wanted to be a writer. I’ve loved stories for as long as I can remember, but I didn’t think a career in storytelling was a viable option. Instead, I chose to major in creative writing-adjacent fields: journalism, and then marketing.
Then, in 2013, I had to take an unexpected leave of absence my senior year in college—if you’ve read my work, you can guess why. I picked up creative writing as a coping mechanism. It provided a much-needed escape, a way to envision a better world than the one I occupied. I didn’t share this hobby with a lot of people, as writing was mostly for me, and I didn’t think anything would ever come of it. I wrote for the next four years, mostly at nights and on the weekends, always submitting my work—and getting subsequently rejected—along the way.
In 2018, I decided to pursue this passion more seriously. In what can only be described as a fit of madness, I quit my very stable marketing job, with absolutely no backup plan and just enough savings to last me three months, and I spent the summer writing. I wrote every day, from sunup to sundown, joined various critique groups, and completed the first draft of what would become Beneath the Marigolds. It would take me another year, several rewrites, and 58 rejections before it was actually purchased.
I’m often asked for advice for aspiring writers. There’s no one correct journey to becoming published, but if I had to share some wisdom, I would recommend reading and writing consistently; joining a writing critique group, to both hone your craft and meet fellow writers; reading Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat to better understand story structure; and finding the silver lining, no matter how small or seemingly unapparent, in every setback.
During my leave of absence in college, when I was told by a team of medical professionals I wouldn’t make it much longer if I didn’t clean up my act, I didn’t see many positive takeaways. Indeed, I thought my life was over. Years later, I realize that experience made me more empathetic—which is critical in writing, in finding the humanity in every character. The experience also made me unafraid to be different. Unafraid to choose a different path, and accept the risks that come with that path. I had already been stuck with a label that set me apart, I had already been the center of the gossip mill, I had already walked through the figurative valley of the shadow of death, and any ensuing failure or critique was manageable in comparison.
So, if you’re out there writing, or struggling in any way, remember that nothing is impossible. Have faith in yourself, keep putting one foot in front of the other, and live to tell the tale—I’m betting it’ll make one hell of a story.