Helen Hoang took the book world by storm in 2018 with her debut novel The Kiss Quotient. Named the best romance novel of the year in the She Reads Awards, this nontraditional love story made readers everywhere swoon. This year, Helen is back with one of the most anticipated books of the year, The Bride Test. Another touching romance, this book focuses on a powerful message of acceptance and resilience.
Lucky for She Reads, Helen Hoang has joined our editorial team this May to bring you an inside look at her new book as well as more on the books she loves and the authors that inspire her. Stay tuned all month long to learn more about Helen and The Bride Test, available May 7.
What was the inspiration behind The Bride Test?
It was a website, one that I don’t want to mention because I’d hate to drive more traffic there, but their content insists that autistic people are heartless, that we’re selfish and don’t experience empathy. This is just plain false. Some of the autistic people I’ve spoken to are the kindest, most considerate people I know. This sense of injustice inspired the character of Khai. I wanted to show people how wrong that stereotype is and how damaging it is. I know I process emotions differently than others, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have them. I hope this book illustrates that somewhat.
Khai, however, is only one half of the story. The other half is Esme, and I stumbled upon her character by accident. I hadn’t originally planned to write my heroine as a Vietnamese immigrant. This immigrant character was supposed to be a side character, but she kept outshining the “Westernized” character I meant to be Khai’s true love. After much self-reflection, I realized I needed to write Esme’s story, a story that was very similar to my mother’s. Her conflict – that sense of knowing your worth when the rest of the world doesn’t – lit a fire in my heart, and I feel that if this book speaks to people, it is Esme’s journey that will do it.
In both The Kiss Quotient and The Bride Test, you write about neurodiverse characters – something not regularly seen in fiction writing. Why did you make this decision?
When I first considered writing an autistic character (Stella Lane from The Kiss Quotient), it was simply through fascination, but as I researched, learned more and came to the realization that I, too, was on the autism spectrum, I was compelled to write these characters as a form of self-exploration. Also, I wanted characters like this to achieve and conquer, just like other main characters in romance novels. I wanted them to have Happily Ever Afters.
What’s the one thing you always take with you on book tour?
I haven’t done any book tours, but I imagine I’d bring the special brush tip pens I use to sign books.