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All About Emily Henry

5 Interesting Facts About her Writing Life

By Ashly Moore Sheldon • April 04, 2022

Emily Henry's popular romance novels combine witty dialogue, taut sexual tension, and compelling characters—not to mention some very well-read characters. And we're pretty sure her newest novel, Book Lovers, will tick all of the boxes. Here we get to know the author a little better.

1. She started out writing fantasy.

No story is truer than any other story that has the truth in its heart.

The first story Henry remembers writing was about a submarine driving toad who discovers an underwater city. It was in third grade and she recalls that most of the kids wrote a few sentences, but she showed up with 27 pages. While she was reading aloud to her group, several kids fell asleep. "That's how you know you've made it," she says, "when you hear snoring." Before hitting the big time with her wildly popular rom-coms, Henry published several YA fantasy novels including:

2. As a reader, she enjoys many genres.

My to-read list isn't so much an ordered list as a disorganized jumble spilling off every surface in my house.

Henry reports that she enjoys a wide variety of books—"anything I can get my hands on." She dreads questions about her favorite books because she finds it impossible to narrow down the selection. She describes her book organization system in the following way: "I've got my bedside books (rom-coms), my office books (women's fiction and literary fiction), and the stack on my fireplace (sci-fi and fantasy)." At the time when she gave this interview, a few of the books from Henry's TBR stacks included:

3. She wrote fan fiction before she knew what it was.

I thought I was writing groundbreaking works of art.

Even as a kid, Henry was a voracious reader and always had a book in her hands. Many times after finishing a novel or series, she was left unsatisfied. Wanting to know what happened after the end of the story, she would write it herself. She hadn't heard of the concept of fan fiction yet, but later realized that was essentially what she was doing. Her favorite books as a kid included The Giver by Lois Lowry and The Ellimist Chronicles by K. A. Applegate.

4. Many of her novels include a scribe or two.

Despite the all-consuming banality of the writing life, I am absolutely addicted to writing about writers.

An obvious example of this tendency is Beach Read, a story about two authors who are living next door to each other for the summer. But rather than bonding over their shared occupation, they find they're polar opposites. January is a romance writer who no longer believes in love and Augustus, a literary writer stuck in a rut. In a moment of competition (or maybe desperation) they agree to a summer-long challenge to each attempt to write the other's genre of book.

5. She likens writing a novel to "putting a group of fictional people through therapy.

For me, writing has always been a way of exorcising demons and facing down fears, figuring out what I think about things that have been scratching at the back of my brain.

Henry's book People We Meet on Vacation is about two longtime friends, Poppy and Alex, who are working through a destabilizing shift in their relationship. She found that she shares different qualities with both of these characters, so part of depicting their struggles involved working out her own thought patterns and facing the things that scared her. Whatever she's doing, it works for us! We're hooked on Henry.

If you're among the many anxiously awaiting her upcoming Book Lovers, here are some recommendations (straight from the author herself) that you can read in the meantime.

  • Just Last Night by Mhairi McFarlane: "I wish I'd written it," Henry says of this tale about lifelong friendships, long-buried secrets, and unexpected love.
  • East Coast Girls by Kerry Kletter: Henry says this story of childhood friends Hannah, Maya, Blue, and Renee strikes the "perfect balance between heart-wrenching and soul-healing."
  • Luster by Raven Leilani: "Utterly fantastic" is how the author describes the story of a young twenty-something who finds herself embroiled in another couple's marriage.
  • Dial A for Aunties by Jesse Q. Sutanto: Henry said she "choked with laughter" reading this book, a celebration of mothers and daughters, as well as a deep dive into Chinese-Indonesian culture.

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Read more by Ashly Moore Sheldon

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