After studying creative writing at Hope College and the now-defunct New York Center for Art & Media Studies, Emily Henry writes stories about love and family for both teens and adults. She is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of People We Meet on Vacation and Beach Read. Her new title “Book Lovers” will be released in May!
ABOUT BOOK LOVERS: When Nora starts to feel like she is the woman men date before they find their happy-ever-after, her sister persuades her to swap her desk in the city for a month’s holiday in Sunshine Falls, North Carolina. It’s a small town straight out of a romance novel and the last place she would ever expect to see Charlie – her work nemesis. She is a cut-throat literary agent at the top of her game and Charlie is an editor with a gift for creating bestsellers – can they take a page out of an entirely different book while they’re out of the office?
Exclusively for our QBD Blog Readers, Emily talks about her love of villain origin stories and how they inspired her new book!
I’ve always loved a villain origin story. There’s something so powerful—and yes, often emotionally devastating—about those narratives that remind us that the characters we love to hate are still just people. People with histories and private hurts and deep fears and primal wounds that affect every little decision they make, on some level.
Most often, we see these stories in genre fiction, fantasy or scifi novels and movies that let us see the making of a series’ Big Bad. But in contemporary fiction, there’s always been a villain prototype I’m completely fascinated by, one whose origins I’d wonder about every time this archetypical character popped up.
You know her, you love her: I’m talking about The Evil Career Woman. The cruel boss who sends her employees scattering for cover whenever she steps off the elevator a la The Devil Wears Prada. The rude, materialistic girlfriend who stands in the way of the hero’s true love, like Meredith Blake in The Parent Trap or Fran Donnelly in The Wedding Planner. I love these types of stories and I love the little peeks we get into their villains, but I’ve always wanted more.
I’ve wanted to understand what made them the way they are, and where they go when the credits roll on the main characters’ story.
And that’s where Book Lovers came from. It started with Nora Stephens, a high-powered, cutthroat literary agent wholly devoted to her job and her little sister, and little else. I worried that Nora might be a hard sell for a reader, and frankly, for me as a writer, but as soon as I put myself into her head, she started to come to life. I understood why her job means so much for her. I understood her love of big cities, and her preference for impractical shoes. I knew how she really felt about salad (huge fun) and why she was so obsessed with her Peloton (for that, you’ll have to read and find out), and perhaps most importantly, I came to understand what her happy ending would look like.
That it would have to be a little different than the happy endings for all those stories where her archetype functions more as a foil to the Right Woman, or an obstacle to a man’s fated love story. The more I got to know Nora, the more I understood that just as she had her own fears, pains, history, she also had her own joy, longing, and dreams.
As I finished writing Book Lovers, I felt grateful for the chance to tell Nora’s story, not just because I had a blast doing it, but because I realized it was one I needed to hear. It was a reminder that there is no one right way to be a woman, and there is certainly no one-size-fits-all happy ending. So I hope if you read it, you feel that too, that you are reminded that you are deserving of a one-of-a-kind love, a tailor-made joy, just the way you are.