Thursday, August 1, 2019

Interview with Brittany Cavallaro + Emily Henry for Hello Girls

Hello Girls

by Brittany Cavallaro & Emily Henry
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Release Date: August 6th 2019
Genre: Contemporary, Young Adult
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Best friends are forged by fire. For Winona Olsen and Lucille Pryce, that fire happened the night they met outside the police station—both deciding whether to turn their families in.

Winona has been starving for life in the seemingly perfect home that she shares with her seemingly perfect father, celebrity weatherman Stormy Olsen. No one knows that he locks the pantry door to control her eating and leaves bruises where no one can see them.

Lucille has been suffocating beneath the needs of her mother and her drug-dealing brother, wondering if there’s more out there for her than disappearing waitress tips and generations of barely getting by.

One harrowing night, Winona and Lucille realize they can’t wait until graduation to start their new lives. They need out. Now. All they need is three grand, fast. And really, a stolen convertible to take them from Michigan to Las Vegas can’t hurt.

Can you briefly describe HELLO GIRLS and their main characters? 

HELLO GIRLS is the story of Winona and Lucille, two girls who have been put in impossible situations by the men in their families. It’s about their unlikely best friendship and the lengths that the two of them will go to get free—some hilarious, some dark, and all, hopefully, thrilling. 

Winona is a rich girl who’s been kept in a glass case by her controlling father; Lucille’s grown up with an absent dad, a drug-dealing brother, and a mother who works long hours to put food on the table. At first glance, Winona is Tory Burch dresses and perfect manners to Lucille’s drugstore glitter lip gloss, but the two of them together find new depths when they hit the road. 

Who would you say is your favourite character from the story and why? 

Brittany: My favorite character has to be the Sicilian mechanic Armie Quinhole. I’m of Italian descent, and I’m from a big family—getting to write characters like Lucille (who is at pains to remind you she’s both a Folgarelli and a Pryce) and Armie lets me pay tribute to, and send up, my own upbringing. 

Emily: Armie is definitely pretty high on my list too, and I also have the softest of soft spots for Chaxton. I can’t even think his name without giggling. But honestly, I think it has to be Lucille. I love her so much. She has a backbone made of steel but her innards are just soft and gooey and good. She is the friend we all deserve. 

How did the story occur to you? Did you find inspiration anywhere? 

We came up with the idea for HELLO GIRLS on our own road trip, driving through the Midwest in search of inspiration for a project for the two of us to write together. Over and over, as we stopped at gas stations and got food at restaurants, we were cheerily condescended to by men, who looked at two grown women and only saw ‘girls’ they could hit on or demean. We wanted to write a book that talked back to the kind of toxic masculinity. 

If you could choose one song to describe your book, which one would it be? 

Probably some kind of unholy mashup of songs by Mariah Carey and Bleachers, played on top volume through blown-out car speakers. 

What would you say it is the best thing about writing a book with someone else? 

Brittany: Every sentence I write needs to be as good as one of Emily’s, and that makes my own writing better. I love seeing her process. She’s so talented! 

Emily: I have to agree with this (only… you know, reversed). I think one reason this book poured out of us was that whenever one of us sent the other a chapter, it felt like this adrenaline-inducing challenge. I have never read a book by Brittany Cavallaro without learning something about writing in the process, and this was no different. It was just inspiring to watch her work, and in a way, writing this book together strangely paralleled the book itself: the way Lucille and Winona egg each other on, how they keep trying to top one another. 

Brittany, can you tell us something we don’t know about Emily? 

You might know this from Insta, but Emily dresses like an actual Farrah Fawcett angel from the 70s. She might have the coolest personal style of anyone I know. She’s also the queen of the quick comeback—hanging out with her is a master class in banter. 

Emily, can you tell us something we don’t know about Brittany? 

Brittany is freakishly good at video games and strategy games. Whenever we’re together, she tries to teach me something about one of these (and does so with the patience of a saint), and I nod and pledge to practice when I go home, and then the song on the radio changes, and we start singing, and I forget to ever think about strategy games again. Also she taught me everything I know about skincare (a lot). 

To which character do you identify the most in HELLO GIRLS and why? 

Brittany: Oh, I am thoroughly a Lucille, good qualities and bad—the loyalty, the impulsiveness. She’s much better at math than me, and has slightly worse taste in boys than I did at 16 (…slightly), but we’re cut from the same cloth. 

Emily: Hm, maybe a Winona dressed as a Lucille? Which I guess is just a Winona. I don’t know, I think one reason I loved writing Winona so much was that she’s so different from me. Writing her allowed me to tap into parts of myself that I rarely think about. In real life, I would be terrified of Winona and would follow Lucille around like an adoring puppy. So maybe that makes me… Chaxton! JK! 

Summer is here and we love to go out and enjoy the sun. What drink and place do you think will go with your book to have a perfect book date? 

A strawberry milkshake with extra whipped cream on it by a paddle pool in your backyard. 

Can you recommend your readers any other books in case they are left hungry for more once they finish HELLO GIRLS? 

For more girl friendship, Elizabeth Wein’s CODE NAME VERITY is a must. Katie Cotugno’s 99 DAYS is my favorite summer read—complex relationships, gorgeous writing. And speaking of summer books, anything by Sandhya Menon (like WHEN DIMPLE MET RISHI) is perfect. For something with grit that engages with the darker themes, almost anything by Mindy McGinnis is a safe bet. 

Finally, not a book—but if you haven’t seen Thelma and Louise yet, you should! 

What’s next for you? 

Brittany: I have an 1893 World’s Fair historical fantasy coming out in early 2021 called MUSE. Stay tuned! 

Emily: My next book comes out next June, and is a rom-com (for adults!) called BEACH READ! I also wouldn’t sneeze at a chance to write another book with my bestie. (Is that even the saying? Sneeze at? You get the idea: I’d love to do it.)

Brittany Cavallaro

Brittany Cavallaro is a poet, fiction writer, and old school Sherlockian. She is the New York Times bestselling author of the Charlotte Holmes novels from HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Books, including A STUDY IN CHARLOTTE, THE LAST OF AUGUST, and THE CASE FOR JAMIE (forthcoming in March 2018). She's also the author of the poetry collection GIRL-KING (University of Akron) and is the recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship. She earned her BA in literature from Middlebury College and her MFA in poetry from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She lives in Michigan with her husband, cat, dog, and collection of deerstalker caps.

Emily Henry

Emily Henry is the author of The Love That Split the World and A Million Junes. She is a full-time writer, proofreader, and donut connoisseur. She studied creative writing at Hope College and the New York Center for Art & Media Studies, and now spends most of her time in Cincinnati, Ohio, and the part of Kentucky just beneath it. She tweets @EmilyHenryWrite.


  1. This book is on my TBR already and sounds unique from others I've read. These characters sound like ones I want to get to know.

  2. This sounds good; I love young adult contemporary, romance the best!

  3. The Hello Girls looks like a great read. The cover is cool and synopsis is very interesting.