Colleen Hoover is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer a few questions for WritingForums. We hope you enjoy this interview.
Yours is a Cinderella story for writers. Can you tell our members briefly about your background and how you came to write your first book, Slammed.
Three years ago this week…
I lived in a mobile home. A very small, 1,000 square foot trailer house. With black linoleum, horrendous gold trim, an air conditioner that didn’t work, a patio door that didn’t open because the floor was rotted through and appliances that would only run one at a time or the breaker would trip. We had a huge pile of trash in a backyard pen because for an entire year, we couldn’t even afford the $25 a month trash service.
I drove a minivan that had no heater, and every winter I would have to leave for work at 6:30 in the morning and pull over every few miles just to wipe and defrost the windows so I could see out it.
Our kids were on free lunches, and for a while, we qualified for food stamps.
All of this, and I had a college degree, which I was utilizing. But working as a social worker wasn’t paying all of the bills, and I was still having to borrow money from my mother and father to make ends meet. When my older sister would come visit, she would bring me groceries. My aunt would send my kids shoes for Christmas, because we could hardly afford them. We dreamed of living like kings on payday, but in reality we were paupers, digging in the couch cushions during the week to afford the banquet TV dinners we lived on most of the time.
Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?
Tell us about your writing process.
It starts with an idea. I’m always trying to think of new ideas, but sometimes one sticks with me. When I get to the point where I can’t stop thinking about it, I know I have to write it down. From that point on, the process is different with each one. I always go back and edit each chapter after I write it, but sometimes I write from start to finish and sometimes I skip around. With Ugly Love, I wrote most of Miles’ chapters and then when back in and added Tate’s chapters.
What is your ideal writing atmosphere?
Absolute silence and a Diet Pepsi on ice.
Kyle R. asks: What are you most conscious of while writing?
You initially self-published Slammed and Hopeless, but are now with Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster publisher. How did this come about?
Once Slammed and Point of Retreat hit the NYT Bestsellers list, I received offers from a few publishers, and I just really felt like I connected with the people at Atria and that we had the same vision for where my books were headed.
Morkonan asks: What do you think that you must absolutely accomplish when writing Young Adult Romance? Is there one spark that must be fanned in order to make a YA Romance blossom for the reader?
I definitely don’t think there’s one element that’s necessary in every YA Romance novel. Of course, the characters should be young and the story should contain romance, but other than that, I think it’s most important that authors stay true to themselves. I think readers can sense when you’re trying to write what you think they want to read, rather than what you really want to write.
T Kent asks: Your first book, Slammed, included excerpts from Avett Brothers songs and a later book, Maybe Someday included original music written for your book by Griffin Peterson. How important is music as a source of inspiration in your work?
Music is a huge source of inspiration for me. I can’t listen to music while I write, but it often helps get me in the mood and get the creative juices flowing.
T Kent writes: Did you write the poetry in Slammed? If so, have you written other poetry that our members could read?
Yes! The only poem in that series that I didn’t write was the poem titled “Write Poorly.” I don’t really write poetry otherwise. I wrote a poem for my father’s obituary, and one for my sister’s 18th birthday. I occasionally write them for fun, but not really with any intention of publishing them.
The lead up to and eventual first kiss in Hopeless is considered by many to be the best first kiss in New Adult romance. Where did you get the inspiration for Sky & Holder’s first kiss?
It just felt right for them. Even though Sky may not have realized it, I think it was what she needed, considering her past.
You are collaborating with another popular writer, Tarryn Fisher, on the Never Never series. How did that come about? Tell us about your collaborative process.
I told Tarryn about this story I wanted to write, but I never could find the time to start it. One day, she emailed me an attachment and said, “Here, I wrote the first chapter. You’re welcome.” So I wrote the second chapter and sent it back, and it just continued from there.
Have movie rights been purchased for any of your novels? If so, which one(s)?
Yes! I’ve sold the movie rights to Hopeless and Ugly Love. Nick Bateman and Hackybox Pictures purchased the rights to Ugly Love, and I have a lot of faith that they’re going to turn it into something great!
What is your favorite book that you’ve written? Why?
That’s like asking me to pick my favorite child! It changes every day.
From your experience, what are the best social media channels for writers?
I used Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, but I think you can do the most with Facebook. I definitely utilize that platform more than the others.
What are you working on now?
Confess releases March 10th, and Never Never Part 2 releases May 17th.
How can our members learn more about you and you work?