Friday, 21 September 2018

Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges - Guest Post and Giveaway

Book Cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
Today I'm welcoming an author to the blog for the first time. Amy Hilliges has written an Emma update, moving Miss Woodhouse to modern day New York. Think a cross between Emma and Sex and the City. Amy has visited here today with a guest post and giveaway. of Emma and the City I'll share the blurb with you and then hand over to Amy for her guest post, excerpt and giveaway!

Book Description

When arrows fly, Cupid better get out of the way . . . or risk being shot

It-girl and blogger Emma Worth appears to have it all: beauty, brains, connections and a fabulous Manhattan apartment. Emma makes it her business to tell others what to wear and who to date because she knows best. Obviously.

Despite her designer outfits and glitzy New York lifestyle, something's missing . . . If she only knew what it was. That is, until a hot A-lister swoops into her life and sends Emma's pulse racing and fills her head with red-carpet fantasies.

Emma's neighbor Adam Knightley is disapproving, telling her she needs to fix her priorities and stop chasing celebrity pipe dreams. The man would look hot on a red carpet himself, if only he’d stop frowning for more than five seconds.

When Emma’s matchmaking backfires and her meddling causes mischief, what's a girl to do? Try to lie her way out of it, of course.  Anyway, who cares, right? Because Emma's finally getting the kind of attention she deserves. Except in her fantasies, things looked a lot different. And it didn’t feel this heartrendingly painful . . .

Love her or hate her, Emma is back––with a sexy makeover, 21st-century problems, and another chance to redeem herself in this grippingly entertaining, thoroughly original retelling of the Jane Austen classic.

Guest Post

Thanks so much, Ceri, for your interest in Emma and the City and for welcoming me to your blog.

I first had the idea to modernize one of my favorite books, Emma, and set it in New York when I was working there as a bartender and cocktail waitress in my late 20s. I pictured the Harriet character being new to the city and working as a waitress in Emma’s local café.

With this basic set-up, I thought it would be easy to find parallel modern-day situations and do a play-by-play of the original Emma.

But it’s never as simple as it seems.

First, because you can’t just take old-fashioned characters and drop them into 2006 (which is when my novel is set). For the book to work in a contemporary setting, my characters needed to have believable modern backstories and motivations, jobs and sex lives. Pinning down these details was much harder than I’d anticipated.

And because I was the one making up the rules—How loosely based or true to the original would it be?—the challenge, then, was in deciding what to keep, what to change, and what to throw out.

For example, in my first draft, the Frank Churchill-Jane Fairfax storyline didn’t feature at all because I thought it was a stretch that modern characters would hide a romantic relationship.  Instead, I introduced separate characters who would play similar roles but have no connection to one another. I also left out Miss Bates because I couldn’t see how to fit her into the mix of younger characters.

By doing that I was ignoring a major plot element and a key character, leaving my story rather thin on the ground. I realized I couldn’t just cut out the secret romance because I was too lazy or daunted to work out a plausible reason why two people might try to hide that they were dating. What I ended up with drives Emma’s motivations for much of the second half of Emma and the City and takes the book in a fabulous new direction I hadn’t originally foreseen.

Certain scenes, however, had to be cut because they didn’t serve a real purpose, for example the scene in which Harriet gets snubbed by Mr. and Mrs. Elton. I wrote a great scene in which my characters are waiting to go into a nightclub, Hailey (Harriet) gets dissed and Adam (Mr. Knightley) comes to her rescue. But then nothing relevant to the book actually happens at the club. So I axed it and instead have a couple of situations where Knightley “rescues” the Harriet character, which work far better with my story.

Ultimately, I needed to learn how to make the novel my own. Both my editor and my husband told me that if my story isn’t new or different, why bother modernizing it.

So while Emma and the City does stay very close to Emma, it really comes into its own when it veers away from Austen’s original, towards the last third of the novel, when the new circumstances and characters I’d created start to take on a life of their own.

These, I think, are some of the best parts of the novel exactly because they are the most creative, original and surprising.

Excerpt from Emma and the City

Book Cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
Normally, Emma wouldn’t have paid much attention to someone like Rob, who checked all of her boxes for geek: An ill-fitting, checked shirt. Baggy khakis. Hiking boots to an interview––Who does that? However, she suspected this Rob dude had his eyes on Hailey, and therefore required some watching out for.

“That’s great,” she said, “except there seems to be something a bit off about him.”

“What do you mean?” asked Adam.

“I can’t quite put my finger on it. He seemed too eager to please somehow.”

Adam laughed. “Phew, I thought you were going so say, psycho-stalker off, like that guy you dated.”

“Now that you mention it,” said Emma, “he was in Café Bisou the very next day, you know. He was bothering Hailey while she was trying to work. And then he started asking me all kinds of questions about you, about Hailey, about what I was doing, about my blog. Then he started spouting off to me about CSS and SEO and plugins and widgets and God knows what else. At the time I thought he was just brown-nosing, like he might get me to put in a good word for him. But now . . . maybe he was trying to worm his way into my trust and get information out of me.”

“I think someone has an overactive imagination,” said Adam, walking around the bar to the fridge.

“Don’t laugh at me,” said Emma. “I’m worried about Hailey, actually. I think she might be his target.”

“Or maybe,” said Adam, pouring a bottle of craft beer into two glasses and handing one to Emma, “he’s just a normal, young guy—someone who’s perhaps a bit awkward when he’s around pretty girls—who might be interested in Hailey. I wouldn’t blame him if he were; she’s a really sweet girl.”

Emma took a sip of her beer, pleased by Adam’s approval of her prodigy.

He continued, “I’m happy to see you take an interest in someone like Hailey, but I’m kind of surprised.”


“She’s very different from the women you normally hang out with, Annalisa and Isabel excepted. They’re usually catty, self-centered and ambitious.”

“That’s not true!” was Emma’s automatic response. Racking her brain, Emma thought of Sasha, her friend Lauren from Luxe who now worked on a celebrity gossip magazine, and a couple of the women she sometimes socialized with. Unable to come up with anyone who didn’t fit the bill, she said, “Hailey is sweet. When I think of my ideal blog reader, I think of Hailey and that helps me gear the content and tone.”

“I hope you’re not just using Hailey for the sake of your blog.”

“Of course not. I like her. I’m helping her: introducing her to the city, helping her find her place in it.”

“Are you sure, Emma? Just make sure you let her live her own life, okay?”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“You know what I mean. I don’t want to see someone like her get hurt.”

“She won’t,” said Emma. “I only have Hailey’s best interest at heart. Honest.”

And Hailey’s best interest wasn’t to date a weirdo geek like Rob, it was to be with a hot rock star like Zak.

* * *

About the Author

Author Amy Hilliges
Amy Hilliges always wanted to be a writer when she grew up. Finally, at the age of 40, after years being paid to write professionally, she decided she was grown up enough to become a “real writer.” Emma and the City is the result.

An American expat, Amy lives in Zurich, Switzerland, with her German husband and their two UK-born sons.

Find out more about Amy’s crazy, nomadic, multi-culti life, the evolution of Emma and the City and Amy’s future books at


Website • Goodreads • Facebook • Twitter • Instagram •  Pinterest • Amazon

Buy Links

Amazon • Kobo • iTunes • Barnes & Noble • Amazon UK • Add to Goodreads Shelf

Book Trailer

Giveaway Time!

Amy Hillages is offering a generous giveaway for 6 winners!

Book Cover: Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges
5 ebooks of Emma and the City are up for grabs!  This is open internationally. There are two ways to win a copy. Firstly, you can use the rafflecopter below. Extra entries can be earned for sharing the giveaway every day on Twitter.  Now, I know some of you can't use rafflecopter, or just really hate it! So, while the winners of three of the ebooks will be chosen via rafflecopter, the winners of the other two will be chosen at random from those who leave a comment on this blog post or my review post, (which will go live on Monday) by the end of the day on 28 September 2018. If you enter by leaving a comment, please leave a way for me to contact you.

Paperback of Emma and the City by Amy Hilliges and tote bag
*Note, Author not included in prize pack
For a UK/Europe reader, there is also a chance to win a signed paperback of Emma and the City, plus bookmarks and a tote bag. To enter for this, leave a comment on this blog post, including the fact that your location is UK/Europe.

I'll be posting my review of Emma and the City on Monday 24 September. You can earn an extra giveaway entry by commenting on that post too!

Other Blog Visits

Amy is stopping by at other blogs too, if you'd like to read more excerpts and have another chance for a giveaway!

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  1. Ooh this sounds like such an interesting read! I do like the idea of the story of 'Emma' reworked to be in modern New York. It seems like a really good fit. I enjoyed the excerpt. The banter between Emma and Adam (Knightley) is spot on.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us, Amy, and for the generous giveaway. Count me in! I'm in the UK and my email address is: elaine(dot)jeremiah(at)gmail(dot)com

  2. I love the sound of this book! Especially with it having a Sex and the City kind of vibe. I've always been attracted to Emma inspired stories...I think it is mostly because of Mr. Knightley! He is one of my favorite Jane Austen heroes! Will definitely look forward to checking this book out!

    Congrats on your release, Amy! And thank you for the great feature, Ceri! :)

    1. Mr. Knightley is also one of my favorite Jane Austen heroes. In fact, he is probably one of my favorite literary heroes of all time! =)

    2. I think you will like Mr Knightley in this one, Meredith, he is lovely :)

  3. I really like the premise of this book as I've never read anything like it before. Thanks for the chance to win a copy. jadseah4(at)yahoo(dot)com

  4. Oh a new author! This is exciting and one who has taken 'Emma' on! This definitely sounds intriguing! Congratulations on your debut Amy!!!

    1. It's unusual to have a new take on Emma isn't it Carole, as so much is based on P&P, or sometimes Persuasion.

  5. love the background on this story. and the excerpt sounds wonderful


  6. Hi Denise, glad you enjoyed the guest post and excerpt! For more background on what drew me to write this book, check out my guest post on Saturday at the blog For Love of Jane Austen. There will be other excerpts there and tomorrow at Agents of Romance as well as on my website. (All links above.)

  7. Thanks for sharing your motivation to pen an Emma modernisation, Amy. I like your version of Emma and cannot wait to read the book. Btw, the cover is stunning.