Emma Cline is an American author who came to prominence in 2016 with her debut novel, entitled the Girls, which is set against the infamous Charles Manson murders in the late 1960s. Despite being a young author, Cline has long held a strong passion for writing that she eventually used to write her first best-selling and critically acclaimed novel. Her story serves as an inspiration for any young people out there now who have a passion for writing but don’t believe that they can realistically make a living and become well known for that passion.
PERSONAL LIFE AND ACCOMPLISHMENTS
Emma Cline grew up in the wine country in California. Her family owned a wine business named Cline Cellers, which they made from taking a nine thousand dollar inheritance and turning that into an investment. Cline was the second of seven children; she has one older brother, one younger brother, and then four younger sisters. Her mother was from the Jacuzzi family, who were the inventers of the whirlpool baths of the same name.
Initially, Cline had intended to pursue acting rather than writing. As a preteen, she appeared in a small handful of short films and TV movies, such as Flashcards and When Billie Beat Bobby. Later after Cline would graduate from college, she decided to pursue acting full time and moved to Los Angeles to do so. However, after an extremely large number of auditions of which none were successful, Cline found herself giving up and moving back to the East Coast.
Cline would earn her B.A. from Middlebury College in the state of Vermont, at which she became the winner of a college writing award for a story she wrote entitled, What is Lost.
Cline then later became the winner of a scholarship to the highly prestigious Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference that further fueled her writing career, and she later received her M.F.A from the Columbia University. She continued to write stories at Columbia, one of which referenced Charles Manson and was featured in the summer of 2013 in the Paris Review.
After graduating from Columbia University, Cline had clearly chosen writing to be her career path. She was hired by the New Yorker as a fiction writer, but by then she was already working on her first novel, the Girls. That novel would eventually be acquired and published by Random House, and it earned Cline no less than two million dollars.
CHARACTERS AND EARLY WORKS
The Girls is a novel that Cline has claimed she had actually been writing over the course of most of her life, but with the final manuscript that was acquired and published by Random House being written over the course of a summer in an extremely small shed of the backyard of her friend.
Cline fixed up the shed herself and installed a running water system in it so that she could live in it. In this enormously small shed, Cline would focus on writing the Girls over the course of that summer.
The Girls is set in northern California at the end of the 1960s. At the beginning of the summer (paralleling the time that Cline actually wrote the book) a teenage girl named Evie Boyd has been abandoned by her friends and lives with her mother. However, she spots another group of girls in a park and becomes attracted to how free and careless they are. With nowhere else to go and still mesmerized by the freedom of the group, Evie joins them only to find herself sucked in to their way of life… and their charismatic yet mysterious leader, named Russell Hadron, who lives on a broken down ranch up in the hills.
Evie, being driven farther and farther away from her movie and closer and closer to the girls group, then loses her innocence as she is drawn into Hadron’s violent cult. The strongest relationship in the book is between Evie and the older leader of the girls named Suzanne, but it is also this friendship that blinds Evie from the horrific acts of violence the cult commits but that she constantly alludes to.
While the Girls may not at all be the kind of debut novel that one would expect from a young adult author, the reality is that it became one of the most critically acclaimed and well circulated books of the year. There were many positive qualities of the Girls that literary critics were quick to point out.
Cline’s writing style in particular received heaps of praise, with many critics claiming that the style of her prose would set the standards for future American fiction in the coming years. The Girls is an easy read written as if it were from an actual teenage girl the age of Evie.
Critics also acclaimed how absorbing and consuming Cline’s debut novel was, in that it so effectively takes a subject that has already been written about extensively almost to the point of cliché (namely, teenage girlhood), and yet writes it in a style that is original and about a subject matter that is compelling and up until the Girls was published, rather unexplored.
While the Girls may be a traditional coming age of story written from the perspective of a lost and angry teenage girl, it is also written in a style or from a point of view that is not traditional at all. These traits are what have set Cline’s work apart from other writers in the same genre, including writers who are much older and more experienced than she is.
Today, there are many young and aspiring writers out there who have invested countless hours into writing their own creative works of fiction only to fail to find a publisher to get their novel(s) out there. Cline’s story can not only serve as an inspiration for those who are in this position, but her debut novel the Girls equally serves as a perfect example of the kind of writing and prose that can take a young author from being a nobody into an overnight best-selling author.Book Series In Order » Authors » Emma Cline