FORT BENTON — Emerson Giese, a senior at Fort Benton High School, is many things: a three-sport athlete (volleyball, basketball, and track), a member of the National Honor Society, and president of student council.
Aside from her success as a student, she has now published her own debut novel titled "The Miserable Lives of the Perfect Ones."
The adult fiction story came to life as she entered her senior year. The process of completing the story took two years, but she developed the idea during her freshman year of high school.
"You get this divine inspiration at first," Giese said. "Your chapters are coming easy because you're doing the basic concepts and outlines. After that, it's just work you have to do. It feels more like a job and something that you just need to do and push through to get your final product. I enjoyed it a lot, but it was very difficult to find the job and motivation to continuously write about this certain thing. I had to research and find information outside of my experience."
The novel is geared toward teenagers, and focuses on how expectations set by peers, teachers, and parents can affect the way people perceive each other and themselves.
Gieson explained her reasons for writing the novel.
"My parents always wanted me and my siblings to find our own passions, and then do something physical with those passions," she said. "This book was my passion project for me. The idea of it wasn't anything that I took from my life. It was something that gradually came to me, and I found that it wouldn't fit in a short-story form, so I decided to write a book to further my passion and get to know the process, and I really enjoyed it."
She added that the title of the novel was something that naturally came to her.
Giese said, "I figured if I could stem off of that, and shape the characters around this concept of being perceived as 'perfect,' but truly being 'miserable.'
The novel was released on December 4th, 2022, through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.
Giese credited her dad for his help and knowledge throughout the process of writing the novel and getting it published.
Fort Benton Public Schools superintendent Jory Thompson has known Emerson since she was in first grade.
Thompson noted, "Emerson is one of those students. She's an achiever, she succeeds, she's goal-oriented, she's driven, she's visionary. She knew enough early on that publishing a book is something that would help her where she wants to be with college, goals and so-forth. She's one of those great successes in life and will continue to do that."
As far as Giese's future, she would love to be a writer. However, she doesn't view it as a "realistic thing." Right now, she plans to go to college and major in English. After college, she hopes to work for a publishing company, with the possibility of writing more books.
"I definitely want books to be a constant part of my life," she said. "I'm very passionate about writing and reading. I definitely want that to happen, but if it doesn't, I'm thinking of probably going into environmental law and doing something with that."
EXTENDED INTERVIEW WITH EMERSON