Interview: Liza Wiemer Author of Hello?

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Hello? by Liza Wiemer

One HELLO can change a life. One HELLO can save a life.

So Hello? is your YA debut novel and the first to be published. Can you tell us a little bit about the experience and what Hello? is about?

LW: Hello? tested me in ways I could never have expected. To be authentic to my characters and their voices, it meant learning new skills, including free verse poetry and screenplay format. It’s not an exaggeration to say that I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours working on their skills.

In addition, making sure that the characters’ stories wove together as seamlessly as possible created unexpected challenges. Just like in real life, each of my characters has his or her own struggles. I needed to show them, show how they impacted their lives and their choices while also exploring the concept of serendipity and the power of hope.

When I went from six characters to five, I had to figure out how to piece the novel back together again, which was particularly difficult because a phone call or text clued the reader into whose chapter came next. Everyone was linked. In the end, solving each puzzle, reweaving the threads together was not only tremendously challenging, but satisfying.

I was fortunate to work with an excellent editor at Spencer Hill, Patricia Riley. Our conversations helped make the novel so much better.

Hello? tells five separate stories throughout and brings them all together at the end when the characters need each other the most. Tell us about your idea behind this style.

LW: The idea of how one phone call could cause a chain reaction and alter the lives of many people fascinated me. It’s how life works. We don’t live in a vacuum and I personally have experienced how a simple act of kindness can transform lives. After that, I realized I had to write this book.

Now the main concept of your novel is “One HELLO can change a life. One HELLO can save a life.” Tell a little bit about that idea.

LW: Most of us have experienced how a hello can alter our lives. How many of your friendships started with a hello? It’s powerful. Here’s a recent example of how a hello altered two friends’ lives. A friend of our family’s was supposed to attend a party and he was driving two and a half hours to join us. I was worried because Mike (not his real name) was super late. As a matter of fact, the party was winding down and people were getting ready to leave.

That’s when Mike showed up. I started to make introductions, but it was awkward because of the late hour. One of those introductions, however, ended up being a life-changing moment for our friend, Ben. Mike gave Ben a job, and not just any job, but one that Ben was born to do! It was a perfect match.

How much of yourself did you put into Hello? Is there a connection to one of the stories that inspired the book?

LW: I definitely drew upon my own close relationship with my grandma as inspiration for Tricia. I also have had numerous experiences of Divine Providence. There’s a scene at the end of the novel that inspired another a fun scene that came straight from my own life. I don’t want to spoil anything, but it has to do with a guy, a girl and a concert!

What is the most important message behind your book? What do you want readers to take away?

LW: The cool thing about reading books is that every reader takes something different away from a book. We read through our own lenses based on our experiences. I love that.

Hello is also about how kindness and compassion can cause a chain reaction. We have the power to transform this world in the very best ways and it all can start with a simple HELLO!

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