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The Roughest Draft

The Roughest Draft Summary

The Roughest Draft: Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their co-written book topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven't spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on the contract.

Facing crossroads in their personal and professional lives, they're forced to reunite. The last thing they ever thought they'd do again is hole up in the tiny Florida town where they wrote their previous book, trying to finish a new manuscript quickly and painlessly. Working through the reasons they've hated each other for the past three years isn't easy, especially not while writing a romantic novel.

While passion and prose push them closer together in the Florida heat, Katrina and Nathan will learn that relationships, like writing, sometimes take a few rough drafts before they get it right.

About the Author

Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka met and fell in love in high school. Austin went on to graduate from Harvard, while Emily graduated from Princeton. Together, they are the authors of several novels about romance for teens and adults. Now married, they live in Los Angeles, where they continue to take daily inspiration from their own love story.

The Roughest Draft Introduction

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


The bookstore is nothing like I remember. They’ve remodeled, white paint covering the exposed bricks, light gray wooden shelves where there once were old metal ones. Cute candles and Jane Austen tote bags occupy the front table instead of used books.

I shouldn’t be surprised it looks different. I’ve pretty much given up buying books in public in the past three years, including from Forewords, where I’ve only been once despite the bookstore being fifteen minutes from our house in Los Angeles’s Hancock Park. I don’t like being recognized. But I love books. Doing my book buying online has been torture.

Walking in, I eye the bookseller. She’s in her early twenties, not much younger than me. Her brown hair’s up in a messy bun, her green nose piercing catching the overhead lights. She doesn’t look familiar. When she smiles from the checkout counter, I think I’m in the clear.

I smile back, walking past the bestseller shelf. Only Once sits imposingly right in the middle, its textured blue cover with clean white typography instantly identifiable. I ignore the book while I move deeper into the store.

This visit is something my therapist’s been pushing me to do for months. Exposure therapy, conditioning myself to once more find comfortable the places I used to love. Pausing in the fiction section, I collect myself, remembering I’m doing fine. I’m calm. I’m just me, looking for something to read, with no expectations pressing on my shoulders or stresses jackhammering in my chest.

Covers run past me in rows, each waiting to be picked out. Everything is crisp with the scent of pages. I knew the Los Angeles independent bookstore scene well when Chris proposed we move here from New York for the job he was offered in the book department of one of Hollywood’s biggest talent agencies. Each shop is varied and eccentric, indignant icons of literacy in a city people say never reads.

Which is why I’ve hated avoiding them. The past three years have been a catalogue of changes, facing realities of the life I no longer knew if I wanted and the one I decided I didn’t. I’ve had to remember the quiet joys of my ordinary existence, and in doing so, I’ve had to forget. Forget how my dreams hit me with devastating impact, forget how horrible I felt coming close to what I’d once wanted. Forget Florida.

Everything’s different now. But I pretend it’s not.

The bookstore is part of the pretending. When I lived in New York on my own, before Chris, I would walk to Greenpoint’s independent bookstores in the summer, sweating into the shoulder strap of my bag, and imagine the stories in the spines, wondering if they’d lend me inspiration, fuel for the creative fire I could never douse. Reading wasn’t just enjoyment. It was studying.

I don’t study now. But I never lost the enjoyment. I guess it’s too integral a piece of me. Reading and loving books are the fingerprints of who I am—no matter how much I change, they’ll stay the same, betraying me to myself for the rest of my life. And bringing me into this bookstore, wanting to find something new to read until Chris gets home in the evening.

“Can I help you find anything?”

I hear the bookseller’s voice behind me. Instinctive nerves tighten my posture. I turn, hesitant. While she watches me welcomingly, I wait for the moment I’ve been dreading since I decided earlier today I needed something new to read tonight. Why should I wait for delivery?

The moment doesn’t come. The bookseller’s expression doesn’t change.

“Oh,” I say uncertainly, “I’m not sure. Just browsing.”

The girl grins. “Do you like literary fiction?” she asks eagerly. “Or is there a subgenre you prefer?

I relax. The relief hits me in a rush. This is great. No, wonderful. She has no idea who I am. It’s not like people overreact in general to seeing celebrities in Los Angeles, where you might run into Chrissy Teigen outside Whole Foods or Seth Rogen in line for ice cream. Not that I’m a celebrity. It’s really just bookstores where the possibilities of prying questions or overeager fans worry me.

If this bookseller doesn’t know who I am, I’ve just found my new favorite place. I start imagining my evening in eager detail—curling up with my new purchase on the couch, toes on our white fur rug, gently controlling James Joyce so his paws don’t knock green tea everywhere, and stroking him until he purrs.

Yeah, literary fiction generally. Contemporary fiction more specifically,” I say, excitement in my voice now. I’m going to enjoy telling Chris tonight that I went to Forewords and no one knew who I was. It’ll probably piss him off, but I don’t care. I’ll be reading while he’s working out his frustration on his Peloton bike.

I have just the thing,” the girl says. She’s clearly delighted to have a customer who wants her recommendation.

When she rushes off, my nerves wind up once more. The horrible thought hits me—what if she returns, excited to pitch me the book she’s chosen, and she’s holding Only Once? I don’t know what I’d say. The couple seconds I have right now aren’t enough for me to come up with even the first draft of how I could extricate myself from the conversation.

Instead, it’s worse.

Try this.” The clerk thrusts the hardcover she’s chosen toward me. “It came out last week. I read it in, like, two days.”

Under the one-word title, Refraction, imposed over moody black-and-white photography, I read the name. Nathan Van Huysen. I look to where she got the book from, and I don’t know how I didn’t notice when I walked in. The cardboard display near the front of the store holds rows of copies, waiting patiently for customers, which tells me two things: high publisher expenditure, and it’s not selling.

His name hits me the way it does every time I see it. In New York Times reviews, in the profiles I try to keep out of my browser history—never with much success. The first is wishing those fifteen letters meant nothing to me, weren’t intertwined with my life in ways I’ll never untangle.

Underneath the wishing, I find harder, flintier feelings. Resentment, even hatred. No regret, except regretting ever going to the upstate New York writers’ workshop where I met Nathan Van Huysen.

I was fresh out of college. When I graduated from the University of Virginia and into the job I’d found fetching coffee and making copies in a publishing house, I felt like my life hadn’t really started. I’d enjoyed college, enjoyed the rush I got learning whatever I found genuinely interesting, no matter the subject—fungal plant structures, behavioral economics, the funeral practices of the Greco-Roman world. I just knew I wouldn’t be who I wanted to be until I wrote and published. Then I went upstate and found Nathan, and he found me.

I remember walking out of the welcome dinner, hugging my coat to my collar in the cold, and finding him waiting for me. We’d met earlier in the day, and his eyes lit up when he caught me leaving the restaurant. We introduced ourselves in more depth. He mentioned he was engaged—I hadn’t asked. I was single—I didn’t volunteer the information. It wasn’t like that between us. While we walked out to Susquehanna River Bridge in the night wind, we ended up exchanging favorite verses of poetry, reading them from online on our phones. We were friends.

For the whole lot of good it did us.

When I take the copy of Refraction, the clerk’s voice drops conspiratorially. “It’s not as good as Only Once. But I love Nathan Van Huysen’s prose.

I don’t reply, not wanting to say out loud his prose was the first thing I noticed about him. Even at twenty-two, he wrote with influences fused perfectly into his own style, like every English course he’d ever taken—and Nathan had taken quite a few—was flowing out of his fingertips. It made me feel the things writers love to feel. Inspired, and jealous.

In my silence, the clerk’s expression changes. “Wait,” she continues, “you have read Only Once, haven’t you?

Um,” I say, struggling with how to reply. Why is conversation way easier on the page?

If you haven’t”—she starts toward the bestseller shelf to fetch the paperback. I know what’ll happen when she catches sight of the back cover. Under the embarrassingly long list of starred reviews, she’ll see the author photos. Nathan’s blue eyes beneath the immaculate black waves of his hair, the dimple he only trots out for promotional photos and press tours. Then, next to him, she’ll find his coauthor, Katrina Freeling. Young woman, sharp shoulders, round features, full eyebrows she honestly loves. Professionally done makeup, dark brown hair pressed and polished, nothing like it looks when she steps out of the shower or she’s reading on the patio on sweaty summer days.

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The Roughest Draft

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Product details:

EditionInternational Edition
ISBN0593201930, 978-0593201930
Posted onJanuary 25, 2022
Page Count336 pages
AuthorEmily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Broka

The Roughest Draft By Emily Wibberley PDF Free Download - HUB PDF

The Roughest Draft: Three years ago, Katrina Freeling and Nathan Van Huysen were the brightest literary stars on the horizon, their co-written book topping bestseller lists. But on the heels of their greatest success, they ended their partnership on bad terms, for reasons neither would divulge to the public. They haven't spoken since, and never planned to, except they have one final book due on the contract.


Author: Emily Wibberley, Austin Siegemund-Brok

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