Emma Cline: Biography

Emma Cline

Emma Cline is an American novelist who was born in 1989 in California. She has written pieces of short fiction for publications such as Granta, The Paris Review and Tin House. In 2014, she was awarded the 2014 Paris Review Plimpton Prize. Her first novel, The Girls, was published by Random House in 2016. Both the Washington Post and the NPR named the novel as one of the best books of the year.

Cline is best known for her successful debut novel, The Girls. This book is set in California during the 1960s and has taken its inspiration from the Manson murders, but these murders are not the focus of the novel. Instead, they provide a backdrop for a story which focuses on the women around Manson, and the people living on the fringes of society. In this novel, Manson is stripped of most of his identity, and is turned into a man named Russell who is a failed and aging musician with a powerful magnetism which he exerts over a small group of dedicated followers.

The story follows a 14 year old girl who is not obsessed with Russell himself, but rather takes a shining to one of the girls who follow him.

Cline had to research the details of the Manson Family heavily whilst writing the novel, despite the fact that they feature only fleetingly in the book. She also took inspiration from memoirs and records of cults and communes from a similar time. The book is careful to evoke a mood rather than specific details which pin it to an exact time or location.