Today I’m excited to welcome Rachel Gold, author of Being Emily.
Being Emily by Rachel Gold
At its heart, Being Emily is as much a love story as a coming out story. While it centers on Emily coming out as a transgender girl, her relationship with her girlfriend Claire is the bedrock of the novel. In revising and updating the story for this expanded edition, it became clear that I needed to add more scenes between Emily and her girlfriend Claire.
Both are sixteen and in high school in rural Minnesota. Claire is bisexual and Christian and quickly becomes Emily’s biggest ally in her coming out process. But Claire also has a lot to learn and figure out as the person she thought was her boyfriend becomes more visibly her girlfriend. Toward the middle of the novel, Claire begins to enjoy falling in love again with Emily, who she already knows well and is also getting to discover again.
For the new edition I wrote an epilogue set ten years after the original story that updates Emily and Claire’s relationship. And I got to include a photo of Emily on the back cover without the hat and scarf she’s wearing on the front (because she is in Minnesota, after all).
In this excerpt, Emily and Claire are kissing for the first time as two people who are both openly, visibly girls:
Claire flicked on the TV and started flipping though the On Demand movies, though she didn’t care what they watched. Something shallow for background noise that they didn’t have to pay attention to.
Emily came out a few minutes later with a light touch of makeup around her eyes, solid foundation, a hint of blush and a lip shimmer. She’d fluffed her hair as much as she could, but it was still too short. Her pants and sweater were gender neutral enough to work either way and she’d taken off the button-down and tie.
Claire beckoned her to the couch. If she’d thought this through, she realized, she could have cued up “I Kissed a Girl” on the iPod speakers. When Emily sat, Claire leaned forward and gently traced the side of her face. She didn’t know what to say, or to expect, so she kissed her.
It wasn’t radically different from every other kiss they’d shared. They’d been kissing since Emily had come out to her, just not making out at length like they used to. Emily’s lips were warm, soft and familiar. But the presence of lip shimmer made the kiss sticky.
Claire pulled back. “This is silly.”
She hopped up and got tissues and makeup wipes. “The other girl I kissed wasn’t wearing anything on her lips and my lip gloss on your shimmer is yucky.”
Emily wiped off her lips. “You might be trying too hard,” she said.
“All the time,” Claire replied as she wiped off her makeup.
“Movie?” Emily asked.
She’d turned to the screen and picked up the remote, but Claire saw the flash of sadness in the dark of her eyes. If girls together took turns, it was definitely Claire’s turn. She pushed off the couch and got in front of Emily, fingers on her jaw, tipping her face up. She put her lips on Emily’s, kissing with increasing pressure until Emily’s hands went to her waist and pulled her down to the couch.
This time no sticky lip gloss got in the way. For the first few minutes of making out, part of Claire’s mind stood apart from the experience, waiting to see if anything felt new in a bad way. Emily smelled sweeter than Claire was used to and her kisses felt more tentative, but that was easy to understand.
Claire’s favorite parts of the experience hadn’t changed. She still loved strong hands on her back, and it didn’t matter if those were a boy’s or a girl’s. She appreciated being kissed carefully and thoughtfully. And she loved the feeling of melting into another human being that she cared about. She let her whole mind dissolve into that.
So much so that an hour later, she almost didn’t hear the garage door going up. At least Emily had. She lunged off the couch and into the bathroom to get her makeup off. Claire scrambled back into her shirt and clicked on a movie, fast-forwarding it to the middle so her mom would think they’d been watching it.
The downside to that, she hadn’t realized, was that Mom now expected her and “Chris” to watch the second half of the movie together, with Mom at home. Upside: she’d hastily selected Transformers, so at least Mom didn’t try to join them. Emily had already seen it with Mikey, but she settled in next to Claire and took her hand, entwining their fingers.
Nodding at the screen, after Mom had gone into her room to change, Emily whispered, “Is this your first attempt at a trans joke?”
Claire blinked at the image of car turning into a robot. “It is now,” she said. “Maybe you can use this with Mikey when you tell him.”
“He’ll expect me to have super powers.”
“Don’t you?” Claire asked and leaned into Emily.
“If turning from a robot into a person counts, then yes.”
By Rachel Gold
They say that whoever you are it’s okay, you were born that way. Those words don’t comfort Emily, because she was born Christopher and her insides know that her outsides are all wrong.
They say that it gets better, be who you are and it’ll be fine. For Emily, telling her parents who she really is means a therapist who insists Christopher is normal and Emily is sick. Telling her girlfriend means lectures about how God doesn’t make that kind of mistake.
Emily desperately wants high school in her small Minnesota town to get better. She wants to be the woman she knows is inside, but it’s not until a substitute therapist and a girl named Natalie come into her life that she believes she has a chance of actually Being Emily.
A story for anyone who has ever felt that the inside and outside don’t match and no one else will understand…
In this new, expanded version you will find:
- Updated language
- Expanded and additional scenes
- A new note from the author
- A new introduction
- Emily & Claire ten years later
MEET THE AUTHOR
Raised on world mythology, fantasy novels, comic books and magic, Rachel Gold is the author of multiple award-winning queer & trans young adult novels. She has an MFA in Writing, spent seven years as a reporter for a regional LGBTQ newspaper and fifteen years in corporate marketing. She’s an all around geek and avid gamer who teaches at the Loft Literary Center an annual class/game for teens called, “I’m Gaming as I Write This.” Even though she’s been out since the age of 15, she still doesn’t know what to wear to queer events.
CONNECT WITH RACHEL GOLD
Thanks so much for stopping by today.