COLLEEN HOOVER Chats With Gliterary Girl
A big warm welcome to Colleen Hoover (New York Times bestselling author of Slammed, Point of Retreat and Hopeless) for stopping by Gliterary Girl. I want to start by saying how incredibly excited ALL of us are for your visit (total fangirl moment). Not only have you written three books that we absolutely love, but also you are inspiring so many authors with your amazing success. Book publishing (or pushing, or peddling, or hawking depending on how you look at it) can be such a heartbreaking challenge, but you overcame those obstacles and created quite a tremendous following, deservedly so.
GG: First, I want to start with a couple of questions about Slammed and Point of Retreat. Slam poetry is a unique art that gained a lot of popularity a couple of years back (although the style dates back further) what made you decide to use it as the central theme for your novel and did you draft the poetry in the book yourself?
CH: I actually got the idea because I was watching YouTube videos of slam poets and wanted to read a novel that featured a character that slammed. After researching and coming up empty, I decided to write one. I did write the poetry myself, although it was a risk trying to put something onto paper that can really only be portrayed accurately in person.
GG: Who is Will and where can I find him? Actually, tell me in secret, I am not a sharer. Seriously though, how much of yourself did you put into your characters and which one do you relate to the most?
CH: I relate to all of them in one form or another because they all come from inside my head. But I try to separate myself completely from a character when I write them. It was hard at first while writing SLAMMED because I kept having to rewrite scenes. I would write them at first how I tend to react, but I would rewrite them because I would have to remind myself that I’m not 18 and I’m not Layken.
And Will is out there in many forms. My husband is a great man and my best friend, so when people tell me that they wish men like Will existed, I’m testament that they do!
GG: Slammed had me pulling out my hair over frustrating scenarios and above all Layken’s stubbornness, but Point of Retreat drove that frustration to levels I have never experienced. How difficult was writing her character and being inside her head? Weren’t you tempted to just give in and make her carve the damn pumpkin?
CH: I wanted to slap her several times. Lol. BUT…she was 18. She had been through a lot and just wanted to be able to trust that Will wasn’t going to leave her. She’d been left by everyone she loved and I’m sure that shapes a character’s mistrust to higher levels.
GG: Loss is another central theme of the book and really drives many of the decisions (if not all) of the characters, yet it wasn’t bogged down by darkness like many books do when dealing with such a dusky theme. How did you tap into that sorrow and turn it into a touchstone for your characters’ strength?
CH: I have no idea, it wasn’t something I intended to do. I just wrote what I would want to read. I love drama, heartache and happy moments, so I did my best to tie them all together into a read that people wouldn’t want to put down and walk away from because it was too much of one thing.
GG: You have a third installment of Slammed coming out soon (YAY!), which will tell the original story but in Will’s perspective (Please correct me if I am wrong). How hard was it not reiterating the same story, really giving it a completely new feel and is there anything you can tell us about the book – a juicy tidbit perhaps?
CH: It’s hard. In all honesty, I write books for myself, but these I wrote based on reader demand. I get emails daily begging to hear what Will and Holder were thinking during certain scenes. I did want to keep it fresh so in both books, I’m doing my best to add new material between each chapter by using letters/flashbacks.
GG: All right, now on to Hopeless, my favorite read of the year hands down (it was also my first and what a way to bring in the new year!) What made this book so awesome, besides the great characterization and strong story, was the humor. I already mentioned how deeply emotional your books are and it is clear you are skilled at drawing deep thoughtful emotions from your reader, but how did that differ from the extreme sarcasm of your characters in Hopeless? What did you find easier (or harder) to write?
CH: That entire book was hard to write for different reasons. I had a really hard time figuring out Holder and actually had to put the book down for a few months. I wanted the reader to think like Sky and assume he was your typical broody, temperamental bad-boy when in reality, he was just struggling with what he knew about her. Once I figured out who he was and how he would fit with Sky, it was really easy writing the fun and even the heart-wrenching moments between them because that’s exactly how their personalities were. Very sarcastic, yet very connected. But if I had to pick, I’d say the emotional scenes are the hardest because I am the least emotional person ever. I pretty much have to assume that’s how people would react if they were upset, because it takes a whole lot to upset me or make me sad.
GG: This one is repeat question but about Dean. Is there a real version and where can I find him? He is hands down my favorite book crush in quite a long time…kind of beats out Will because he is slightly rougher around the edges and I like that. Do you fall for your leading men? Are the qualities you draft based on your dream guy, or molded off of an actual guy?
CH: I never mold them off of real guys. To be honest, I make the male leads who I think the female leads would fall for. Dean and Will are very different, yet still very much both good guys. I don’t think Sky would have fallen for someone like Will and I don’t think Lake would have fallen for someone like Holder. So despite what I think is attractive in a guy, I ignore that and assume what my female lead finds would find attractive. Also, to answer the first question, I got SO many emails and messages the moment Griffin Peterson appeared on American Idol. I think readers hit the nail on the head with that one.
GG: I am not generally a movie crier and I cry even less with books, but you had me balling in Slammed and Hopeless. Not a pretty whimper that you can do in public, but the ugly cry where your face twists and reddens and your eyes swell like you had an allergic reaction to nuts. The question everyone here at the Gliterary Girl Headquarters is dying to know is – Do you cry when writing your books? It only seems fair.
CH: don’t. I’m not a crier, not even at movies. I do feel the emotions sometimes while writing and when a character does something that pisses me off, I have to take a breather.
GG: Now for some personal questions because as much as we love chatting about your books, we also want to know a little about you and your writing process. Finding inspiration to write can often be a great challenge for many writers and I occasionally do a piece on un-blocking your creativity. Is there any thing in particular that you use (movies, other books night out, family time) to drive your motivation when you hit a slump? We already know about the Avett Brothers (I hope they thanked you by the way, I know many people checked them out because of you), but is there anything else you use? Do you have any advice for new authors looking to get their work published? Any complications or warning blocks you could issue as well as inspirational anecdotes.
CH: I feel like I’ve been doing this for one year and am still learning myself. I’ve made many mistakes along the way and a lot of good decisions, but I believe the main reason I’ve been successful is because I don’t expect anything. I can hope a book I write will do well, but I don’t expect it to, so I’m never disappointed. If an author believes they’ve just written a best-seller, they need to sit back and reanalyze why they are writing. I truly believe that self-doubt is a necessity in this field and the more you doubt your work, the harder you will work to make it something the reader will enjoy. I know that’s odd advice, but it’s my philosophy.
GG: I know asking for a favorite author is too broad a question and I would never expect anyone to choose just one, but is there any writer or writers that you admire and considered inspiring while writing these book?
CH: I had never read a romance before writing SLAMMED, so I didn’t really become inspired by a particular book. It was more about experiences in my life that inspired me to write at the time. I do love to read though, and have several new favorites since discovering contemporary romance this past year. Easy by Tammara Webber, Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay and The Fault in Our Stars by John Green were three of my favorite reads this year.
GG: And finally, we want to know a little about you. Family, dogs, friends, favorite food…anything.
CH: It’s all about the diet Pepsi. 😉
Thank you so much for taking time out to sit (virtually) with Gliterary Girl. It means so much to us to have you stop by and mess around for a bit. Please, don’t be a stranger and we look forward to EVERYTHING you have set for the future!
To learn more about Colleen Hoover, or purchase her books: