Whether you’re using Facebook to show off your baby’s latest pics to friends or stalking an ex, it’s undeniable that every user on Facebook has a story to tell. Author Emily Liebert tells some of those great stories in her book, Facebook Fairytales. Emily spoke with us about Facebook (and why it’s good to use those privacy settings!), parenting, and why now her life is a fairytale, too.
Emily, let’s talk a bit about your background.
I started out in TV working for Peter Jennings, and then I worked for five years at a luxury lifestyle magazine called The Wag. After that, I went on to freelance. I decided I wanted to write a book, and I became an author, just like that.
Just like that. [laughs][laughs] I wrote the novel, and I got an agent. We were in the final tweaking stages of the book, and I began thinking about Facebook. I thought conceptually of the hundreds of millions of people on Facebook and thought that there have to be some great stories there. I told my agent about the idea and she loved it. I found the 25 stories needed for the book, wrote them, and within two months I had a published book. It was very quick.
What was one of the more memorable stories from the book?
All the stories were great, but the 2nd story, called “Waiting For a Baby”, really resonated with me. It was about a couple in Washington DC who were trying to have a baby but couldn’t. They were doing fertility treatments, and I personally was at a time in my life when I wanted to start my own family. I had friends who were also undergoing fertility treatments as well. The couple turned to adoption, but adoptions are expensive and can take a long time. They posted to Facebook, and within two months, they took home a beautiful baby boy. That to me truly demonstrates the power of social networking.
While some people are posting frivolous things, like what they ate for lunch, other magical things are happening.
Social networking can get a bad rap. My answer is this: If you post naked pictures of yourself, and you don’t set your privacy settings, don’t be surprised if you get strange friend requests from men overseas! [laughs] Amazing things can happen on Facebook, and there are 25 examples of that in the book. There were thousands of stories to choose from.
What does Facebook think of the book? They must love it.
They supported the book. They fed me stories that users send to them. They let me use their logo, and they gave me an interview with their founder, Mort Zuckerberg. He’s very press-shy, so it was great to interview him. He loved the concept of the book.
What was the response to the book?
The response has been overwhelming. It has been written up by Oprah, The Wall Street Journal, The Today Show, etc. It has gotten loads of publicity. People really respond to the stories. In such a cynical world, it’s nice to be reminded of the generosity of the human spirit. Especially online, where you might tend to think that it would be less personal, but it has shown that it can be even more personal and poignant.
And now there are talks about doing a television show and film based on the book.
It’s amazing. I’m working with producers and show runners to develop a reality TV series. For example, perhaps some people have been reunited on Facebook but not in real life yet. They would reunite on television, which is always so great on TV shows. As Facebook grows, the possibilities and stories are endless.
So how often are you personally on Facebook?[laughs] It’s on my iPhone. Multiple times an hour. I’m completely voyeuristic by nature. In the beginning, my friend would call me a “creeper” because I never posted anything on my Wall. I just want to see what other people were saying. I wanted to make sure that my ex-boyfriend’s new girlfriend is fat. I mean, isn’t that why everyone is on Facebook? Like, duh. [laughs] I wasn’t going to be one of those people who write, “I changed my shirt!” or “I took a sip of soda!” And while I’m not there yet, I’ve begun posting a lot more. The reality is that people love following other people’s lives. It’s like watching a reality show. I’m on the site constantly, updating my life, it’s a fabulous resource, and not because I wrote a book about it.
In addition to the two sequels to Facebook Fairytales that you are working on, your first novel is going to be published soon.
Yes, it’s called Conversations with Friends. Interestingly enough, it’s also about communication. The book follows the lives of 3 friends who met during their freshman year at Smith college, which ironically is where I went to college! [laughs] They’re very unlikely friends, but after college, they move to separate states and keep in touch with each other via 3-way phone calls. The book takes an interesting look at what you tell your friends, what you keep private, and how your lives overlap when you’re that far away from each other. I’m very excited about the book.
Now, let’s talk about your family. You have an 8 month-old son, Jaxsyn, and you’re expecting another little boy in July.
Yes, the boys will be within 10 months of each other. Jaxsyn is adopted. My husband and I were looking to start a family. We had been trying for a while but it wasn’t happening. So we started the process of becoming adoptive parents, since the process takes so long. One night, my OB called me at the house and said, “One of my colleagues delivered a baby last night. The mother has no plans for the baby. Do you want it?”
Just like that?
I was like, “What?” My husband was in shower, and I went in and said, “Sweetie, do you want a baby today?” [laughs] He said, “Sure!” That was a Thursday, and by Monday, we brought the baby home. And then a week later I got pregnant.
The boys will be less than 10 months apart. Jaxsyn is my little miracle.
How are you going to balance it all?
I have no idea. The truth is that I have help. I have a nanny five days a week. I spend as much time with Jaxsyn as possible. But on days when I have shoots and interviews or I’m writing, it would be impossible to do it being a full-time mom, too. And we have three sets of grandparents who want to see him all the time. And we’re like, “Wait, we want to see him, too!”
It’s amazing how everything has happened at once.
A year ago, I didn’t have a published book. I didn’t have children. And now, I have a published book, with three more books on the way, a possible TV show, a son and another son on the way. People say, “This is your year!” I think it is, too.