Literary Love: Authors Austin Siegemund-Broka & Emily Wibberley Get Engaged at The Ripped Bodice

We at RT are in love with love and a recent surge of engagements (Kit Harington Rose Leslie, Joe Jonas Sophie Turner, Prince Harry Meghan Markle, we could go on …) has totally fed our passion for a real-life HEA. When we heard that two YA authors got engaged at the LA-based romance book store The Ripped Bodice, we were over the moon with excitement — we needed to know more about the couple! We caught up with Austin Siegemund-Broka Emily Wibberley to chat about their recent engagement, upcoming YA novel and impending nuptials. 

Austin

How did you and Emily meet?

I remember it being in high school Honors Chemistry—she sat behind me, and quickly we became friends over mutual loves of books, movies and music. But she thinks, based on the admittedly compelling evidence of exchanged yearbook signatures, we first met in French class in middle school. Regardless, we’ve known each other since we were young. We were close friends for years before we decided to date!

What made The Ripped Bodice the perfect place to propose?

I wanted to propose in a way that could only be for Emily, nothing generic. I wanted it to be iconically, genuinely her. For the entire time I’ve known Emily, she’s been a voracious and insightful reader—that’s how I knew a book- or bookstore-themed proposal would be perfect. The day of, I organized for the two of us a tour of Los Angeles’ best bookstores (she knew about that part!).

The Ripped Bodice was the pick for the final proposal location for two reasons. For one, of course, the place is beautiful! I could envision the proposal among the ornate bookshelves, book-themed sculptures and detailed, romantic decorations.

But the other reason is the bookstore’s philosophy and ethos. The only brick-and-mortar bookstore exclusively for romance writing in the United States, the Ripped Bodice was independently founded on the principles of changing the reputation of romance writing, a genre often dismissed by wider readerships, and drawing recognition to the genre’s depth, persity, and intellect. They’re ideas important to Emily, but furthermore, they’re ideas representative of what I love about Emily—her independence, her unwavering passions, her devotion to recognizing art and thought (particularly art and thought by women) she feels deserves greater respect. I wanted this new chapter (forgive the book pun!) of our lives to begin in a place devoted to those ideals.

Austin and Emily
Image Credit: Austin Siegemund-Broka

Do you visit The Ripped Bodice together often?

We’d gone a few times before. In addition to YA writers, we’re YA readers, and they have a wonderful YA section in addition to traditional romance and beautiful editions of the classics. Emily’s not a big photographer when we’re in public, but by the way she took pictures of the shelves and the sculptures … well, I had a good idea she’d appreciating being proposed to there.

How did Leah and Bea react when you asked to propose in their book store?

They loved the idea—they couldn’t have been better about the planning. For a few consecutive weeknights my brother and I visited the Ripped Bodice and rearranged furniture, reorganized lighting, and took photos, and Bea and Leah (and their utterly charming dog Fitzwilliam Waffles) gave great recommendations and were completely eager to help us do our thing.

Austin proposes
Image Credit: Austin Siegemund-Broka

Did Emily suspect that something was up?

The funniest thing about proposing is how often you have to fib to the person you love. It’s very disorienting! Emily completely suspected something was up when I recommended she “dress nicely for dinner,” but when she began working me for information, I had to tell her nothing was going on instead of ruining the surprise!

Emily

Did you suspect that Austin had something planned when you went to The Ripped Bodice that night?

Not at all! I foolishly believed him when he assured me he had nothing special planned for the night. I have, of course, forgiven him this lie.

Have you always been a big reader? What are some of your favorite books?

Absolutely. I was named for Emily Brontë and Emily Dickinson, both favorites of mine, so I feel it was inevitable I grew up to be a lover of words and story. It’s so, so hard to narrow down any kind of list of favorite books, but if I must… Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is flawless. I adore Victorian literature in general—Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights, Middlemarch. But of course, YA reigns in my heart. I have Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl to thank for that.

How did your family and friends react to your engagement news? Did they love the bookstore setting?

Everyone immediately commented on how perfect a choice it was, and not just because of how much I love books, but because our relationship is strengthened every day by our shared interest in writing and literature.

Austin and Emily proposal
Image Credit: Austin Siegemund-Broka

Austin Emily

When did you begin writing together?

About two years ago.

What trope most mirrors your relationship?

Best friends who take a long time to realize their feelings for each other, à la When Harry Met Sally. It’s not a coincidence our writing tends to incorporate this trope as well.

Do you see many writing collaborations in your future as a married couple?

Definitely. We both know we are a much better team than we are on our own. This goes for just about everything in life as well.

Austin and Emily
Image Credit: Austin Siegemund-Broka

Tell us about your upcoming YA novel, Always Never Yours.

Always Never Yours, out from Penguin on May 22, 2018, is kind of a modern-day retelling of Romeo and Juliet about a teen girl who always winds up playing the Rosaline in her off-stage relationships—the girl before her boyfriends find “the one”—but when cast as Juliet in her school play, she begins to notice the Romeo she never expected.

ALWAYS NEVER YOURS

You and Emily currently collaborate on YA novels — do you think you’ll ever pen a romance novel together?

All our YA novels have a healthy dose of romance in them! Considering we are high school sweethearts, writing about romance in a high school context is just too close to our hearts to pass up. Of course, anything is possible!

Do you plan to incorporate any books into your wedding?

If we don’t get married in somewhere bookish, it’s safe to say books and literature will be a huge theme!

Always Never Yours will be available in digital and print on May 22, 2018 — be on the lookout for our review in a future edition of the RT VIP Salon! And for more romantic reads, be sure to stop by our Everything Romance page.

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