A Conversation With Emily Henry

 

Author of Happy Place

 HAPPY PLACE is about a couple who broke up months ago, but make a pact to pretend to still be together during their yearly vacation in Maine with a group of best friends. What inspired this idea?

I started with the concept of a couples trip, something that can be so fun or a little bit torturous, depending on how everyone’s quirks feed into or push up against one another. I thought that idea had a lot of potential for both comedy and stress, and I had a few different ideas of how to amp up both, but I’ve always loved comedies of remarriage, so I decided to try my hand at making one.

HAPPY PLACE combines the fake-dating and second-chance romance tropes. What did you enjoy about writing a love story with these tropes?

For a long time, I think tropes got a bad rap. And then using them as the starting or focal point of a story became really popular. Now I see it going back the other way a bit, because as we all know, tropes in themselves don’t really matter. The characters make them matter. So whenever I start a story by thinking about trope, I’m really just looking for whether that trope presents me with at least one lead character. In this case, as soon as I started thinking about fake dating, I thought about a real couple finding themselves in a situation where they had to keep performing their relationship after it had ended.

I loved the challenge of trying to find a use of this trope that would feel somewhat realistic and plausible, and I also really enjoyed the challenge of seeing whether I could bring a couple back together after they’d fallen apart to a point where they really thought there was no saving what they had.

In addition to providing readers with an irresistible love story, HAPPY PLACE explores the intricate dynamics of friendships that withstand years and time apart. What inspired you to give friendships such an important role in a romance novel?

I feel so lucky to have a lot of friends around me who I’ve been close to since high school, and one I’ve been close to since the fifth grade. When you’re friends that long, it’s really interesting, because you can look back on all of your different phases, and it hardly makes any sense that your friendship still works, because you’re entirely different people from when you met. And those past versions of yourselves made sense as friends, just as these current versions do. But there are also plenty of growing pains, and plenty of relationships can’t withstand those transformations.

Harriet’s and Wyn’s complicated romantic relationship is knit tightly into their complicated friendships with this group of people. They’ve all known each other since college, and even though they’re far flung across the country, this breakup is really the first time the friendships will be put to the test. There’s no way this story works without that. Those are the stakes, for Harriet and Wyn. Once they admit they’ve broken up, it’s going to change everything for this group of people, and they both have their individual fears of what that might look like.

If you had to pick your ‘happy place’ what would it be?

Honestly, I really, really, really love being at home. That was the first thing that came to mind, and I feel so lucky that that’s true. But beyond that, Lake Michigan is my happy place. Something about being there wakes me up, and makes me feel truly present in a way that I don’t always.

What do you hope readers take away from reading HAPPY PLACE?

It’s so easy to feel stuck on a track in your life. And it’s easy to keep putting your happiness just beyond an imaginary finish line on that track, instead of hopping the rails. I hope this book can be a reminder to someone that there’s no one right path, that they’re allowed to change their mind about what they want, and that they deserve to be happy, even if that looks different for them than it does for other people.

 

 

Bestselling romances by Emily Henry

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