It’s actually a pretty cool story. Hello? was born out of frustration. In 2011, I had been working on another novel and it just wasn’t going well. After deleting everything I had written that day, I began to pace my living room floor. It’s not something I do often, but I just couldn’t sit still and I needed a way to focus.
And that’s when a completely new idea hit me. I imagined a grieving girl calling her grandma’s old phone number. I could see how that call would not only change her life, but create a chain reaction, transforming the life of the person she called and those connected to him. I immediately knew that the novel would be set on Washington Island and in Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. I knew it would be from multiple points of view. I knew how the story would begin and I had a solid idea on how I wanted it to end. I set the other novel aside and started to write Hello?.
Describe what you enjoyed about working with your editor at Spencer Hill Contemporary?
I loved that we were in sync with each other. If something needed tweaking, we would brainstorm, which led to making the novel so much better. It was inspiring, exciting, and energizing!
How did you grow as a writer as a result of writing this novel?
Without a doubt, 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.
Do you find there is a reoccurring theme in the stories you write? If so, explain. If not, What's Hello?'s theme?
Without a doubt--hope! Each one of us faces challenges. Each of us faces moments of despair. But hope transforms. So hold on!! We find strength in different places. It can come from a stranger or someone we love. It can come through kindness, compassion, friendship, family or through hard work or determination. Sometimes we’re barely holding on. The point is, don’t give up!
Why do you enjoy writing for the YA audience?
I had an extremely difficult and challenging childhood, but despite it, I found my place. I found my voice. And I got my HEA! Life will always have ups and downs and downs and ups. I love writing for YA because I care. Because I know how difficult that time of life can be, and finally I know that it can and does get better! It’s the most transformative time of our lives. It’s the foundation for the future.
Liza Wiemer married the guy who literally swept her off her feet at a Spyro Gyra concert. Their love story can be found on Liza's “About” page. Besides being a die-hard Packer fan, Liza is also a readaholic, a romantic, and a lover of crazy socks and rooftops. Hello? is her debut YA novel. She also has had two adult non-fiction books published, as well as stories and articles in various publications. She's a graduate of UW-Madison with a degree in Education and the mother of two sons. She can be found online at lizawiemer.com and on Twitter @LizaWiemer.