Blondes author lands a bombshell
Emily Schultz’s new novel is serious fun
Emily Schultz’s new novel is her third, following on the heels of Heaven Is Small and Joyland
While on a plane to New York, local author Emily Schultz flipped through Vanity Fair and spotted an eerie Gucci ad. The advertisement depicted almost clonelike images of blonde women who looked, as she describes it, “vampire-ish.”
It was this image that set the wheels in motion for Schultz’s newest fiction work, The Blondes. She had been toying with the idea of a novel that examines blondes, women and beauty, and that ad solidified the theme.
The book begins with semi-naive Hazel, a Toronto grad student who has moved to New York to finish her PhD. She soon finds out she is pregnant with her married professor’s baby. Schultz adds some action, adventure, satire and then a wild plague that afflicts only blonde-haired women who go berserk and start attacking people in the process.
“I like to try to walk a line where something is a little bit of this and a little bit of that,” says Schultz, “sort of crossing genres.”
Shultz, who describes the book as Contagion for blondes, wanted to hook readers with an adventure aspect while exploring beauty, pop culture and the struggles women have with each other and with society.
“The most difficult part in writing a story like this is trying to make a plague that’s impossible believable for that moment that you’re in the book,” she says. “And so for me, I think that’s another reason that I wanted Hazel. I wanted her to be the grounding, you know, of all these fantastical circumstances.”
While writing the book, Schultz and her husband rented a cabin in the California desert, 30 miles from the nearest Internet connection. She was looking for a new headspace to write in, and it helped her immerse herself in Hazel’s character, too.
Trying to escape the plague in New York and make her way back home, pregnant Hazel finds herself holed up in a northern Ontario cabin with none other than her professor’s wife.
“I just wanted an absolute sense of isolation,” Schultz says about the experience. “The desert was very barren. You can hear a sound for miles and miles. It didn’t have the winter, but of course, writing winter if you’re a Canadian is pretty easy.”
Schultz studied English at the University of Windsor and co-founded the literary journal Joyland. Her first collection of short stories, Black Coffee Night, was shortlisted for the Danuta Gleed Award for Best First Fiction in Canada.
The Blondes, Schultz’s third novel, was released on Aug. 14. She will be appearing at Toronto’s International Festival of Authors next month.