Hello? by Liza Wiemer
(Website, Blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads)Published by Spencer Hill Press on November 10th 2015
Genres: Dating & Sex, Emotions & Feelings, Friendship, Social Issues, Young Adult
Tricia: A girl struggling to find her way after her beloved grandma's death.Emerson: A guy who lives his life to fulfill promises, real and hypothetical.Angie: A girl with secrets she can only express through poetry.Brenda: An actress and screenplay writer afraid to confront her past.Brian: A potter who sets aside his life for Tricia, to the detriment of both.Linked and transformed by one phone call, Hello? weaves together these five Wisconsin teens' stories into a compelling narrative of friendship and family, loss and love, heartbreak and healing, serendipity, and ultimately hope.
If you haven’t heard anything about Hello? by Liza Wiemer I don’t know where you’ve been! I had the chance to read this early, getting my hands on an early ARC and it’s an amazing story that you need to pick up as soon as you can. I guarantee you’ll be moved in ways you couldn’t have believed.
We had the opportunity to ask Liza a few questions as part of the blog tour and you’re going to want to check it out below!
In Hello?, secondary characters play pivotal roles for your main characters. Can you share your favorites?
Thinking about this question, it made me realize that several of my secondary characters have unique roles in HELLO?. For example, Tricia’s grandma is a critical part of this novel, but she’s mostly off-camera or off-stage. Her positive influence is huge, because Tricia had such a special relationship with her, but you don’t actually “see” her unless she’s mentioned in a flashback
The same is true with Dr. Shale. There’s only one scene where Emerson sees Dr. Shale in person, yet he plays an important role in Emerson’s life. Their scene together is one of my favorite
Emerson’s sisters are kick-ass awesome. A bit overprotective, but their hearts are in the right place.
Jordan has a critical role in Angie’s life. He brings out her best, allows her to be authentic—her true self. He calls her on her bullshit, yet accepts her for who she is, flaws and all, while also knowing that she is so much more than she’s presented to the world. I love this about him!
Brenda’s father is also a critical person in her life. He’s her rock. His loving, non-judgmental way allows her to feel safe and positive about going forward with some difficult choices she has to make.
On the island, police chief Jeremiah Johannson is important to Tricia. He struggles in his role as a father figure to Tricia, a self-appointed role that isn’t easy for Tricia to accept. The ache to help Tricia, the love that he has for her as a daughter, for me, is palatable.
Tell us about the research you did and the areas of Wisconsin that are featured in the book.
I LOVED doing research for HELLO?. I spent a few weeks in Sturgeon Bay over the course of a several months, meeting with students, traveling to some of their favorite destinations with two of them, going into the high school, discussing life in Sturgeon Bay. It was critical for me to be authentic. Everything described about Sturgeon Bay locations are as vivid and real and true as I could make them, except perhaps the oak tree at Otumba Park. I made up the tree.
This is the intersection scene of a major event in Emerson’s life!
I traveled north to Washington Island, took the ferry. Over the course of time, I made three different trips and spent several weeks with students. I taught in the school, discussed the novel, their lives, got a “behind the scenes” tour of places tourists would never see. The time I spent there was not during tourist season because it was critical for me to get an authentic look at life for native islanders. Every location is real. The only thing I did was move the nearby Potawatomi Lighthouse on Rock Island to Boyer’s Bluff, Tricia’s home. There is a light tower on that land, but I needed a lighthouse for her to live in.
Places like Whitefish Dunes State Park, Sunset Park, Otumba Park are all real. I hope that people will consider traveling to Door County and visit these beautiful places.
The cover of HELLO? features a sunrise photograph overlooking Jackson Harbor, Washington Island. This is a special place in the novel. What makes this picture even more special is that it was taken by a teacher and naturalist on the island, Steve Waldron. When the cover was unveiled, I went to the island. The students cheered for their teacher. It was one of the most touching moments in my whole life to witness their pride in their teacher!
School House Beach on Washington Island. These smooth, round stones are a rare phenomenon and unique to the island. Brian includes the beach in his Island Beauty series. (That’s my cousin Eliraz.) The water is like glass.
There’s also a photo illustration of the lighthouse that inspired Tricia’s home.
Part of your tagline is “One HELLO? can change a life.” Can you tell us about one “Hello” that changed yours?
I’ve met some of my very best bookish friends because we said “Hello.” These relationships have changed my life. I have an outlet to talk books with like-minded people I respect. I get to share my passion, my failures (and get lots of support) as well as my successes. In turn, they do the same with me. Their families are important to me. What they do in the non-book world is important to me. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without these individuals. To care about each other’s lives, to celebrate life-changing events, to attend bookish events together and have a community is something I deeply cherish.
One particular story was meeting Heidi from YA Bibliophile. I was at the Milwaukee airport and she heard me talking on the phone about attending BEA. After I finished my conversation, she said hello and told me that she, too, was going to BEA. I ended up moving my seat on the plane to sit next to her. That was five years ago. We’ve been friends ever since!
Thank you so much for the amazing insight into your story!