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Interview: Colleen Hoover

colleenColleen Hoover is the New York Times bestselling author of two novels, Slammed and Point of Retreat. Colleen lives in Texas with her husband and their three boys (Simon & Schuster biography).


Q. For our readers who may not have heard of you, tell us a bit about yourself.
First and foremost, I am a mom to three of the sweetest and meanest boys. They are 7, 9 and 11. I’ve been married to my husband for 12 years. I just started writing last year, and what a year it’s been.

Q. As a first-time author, how many projects and stories did you discard along the way to Slammed?
Slammed was actually the first real attempt I ever made at writing a book. I would write silly stories and poems for friends, but nothing more than that.

Q. Who is the biggest literary influence in your life?
I have some really close writer friends that are huge influences in my life. To get where I’ve been in less than ten months takes more than just one person. Without their support and having paved the way before me, I would have no idea what the hell I was doing.

Q. Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?
I would love to meet Will, of course. But I would feel bad for wanting to steal him away from Lake.

Q. Is anything in Slammed or Point of Retreat based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
It was mostly imagination. The snow man scene actually happened with my own kids, though. It rarely snows in Texas, and when it does it isn’t good enough snow to build a nice snowman. They made one on that was lying on the ground in front of my car tire. They poured red Kool-Aid all over it and made it look like an accident. It was hilarious, I couldn’t not include it.

Q. The slam poetry incorporated into your novel has been praised. What sort of process went into the creation of such poetry?
There wasn’t really a process to it. I would write a scene, then write the poem that I thought would fit best in the scene. I remember the pink balloon poem I wrote on my lunch break at work. I think slam poetry is a beautiful art, but at the same time actual slam poets use a style that is incredibly poetic and beautiful. I tried to capture as much of it as I could, but it’s hard to put something on paper that should be performed live.

Q. Which character was the most challenging to write and why?
I think Layken was by far the most challenging. It’s hard writing in first person present tense and not making the character just like yourself. There was some things she said and did that I didn’t agree with, but she was only 18, so I kept having to re-write scenes as she would react in them, not how I would react.

Q. What sort of books do you enjoy as a reader? Are those any different from the books you enjoy as an author?
You know, I’m on a HUGE contemporary romance kick. But what’s funny is that I had never read a romance before writing Slammed. I was more of a non-fiction kind of reader. I loved biographies. The first book I read after Slammed was Beautiful Disaster and I fell in love with all of the indie books that were best sellers at the time. Now I read way too much and write way too little.

Q. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
My favorite part out of both of the books to write was the poem “Because of You” that Will performed for Lake. It was really fun going back to the first book and searching for things that would help him prove his love for her. I was happy with the way it came together considering I didn’t have plans on writing a sequel when I was writing Slammed.

Q. Having moved from the self-publishing industry to the more traditional route, what are some benefits and drawbacks of both processes?
The benefit is definitely having a team of people behind you. I just returned from a trip to NYC and I got to meet my publicist, editor and agent. It was a great experience and it made me feel like I made a great decision.

And believe it or not, one of the drawbacks would be losing control. As much as I like having a team of people to help in the areas I’m unable to help myself, it’s also nice having total control and being able to check your sales and manipulate price points, etc.

Q. How did you pick the songs to use at the beginning of the chapters? Was it a difficult process to pick them or did you already know which song you would use?
It took me a couple of days, so I’d say it was difficult. There are so many great lyrics by them, I wanted to find the best ones that fit the mood to each chapter.

Q. Speaking of music, some authors like to write while listening to music, others prefer quietness. Which is your preference? If you listened to music, did you create a playlist? If so, was it mostly The Avett Brothers?
I need total and complete silence while I’m actually writing. So much so, that I bought noise reduction headphones so I wouldn’t be able to hear anyone in the rest of the house.

Q. Is there a message in your novels that you want readers to walk away with? If so, what is it?
There really isn’t a message I’m trying to convey. I just want readers to be able to escape into a story that takes them away from the stress of everyday life. I love finding a good story that is able to completely captivate me. It’s like a mini-vacation.

Epilogue

1. E-reader or print book?
E-reader

2. Chocolate or vanilla?
Chocolate (Tim Tam’s, preferably)

3. Favorite city?
Chicago

4. Tea or coffee?
Diet Pepsi

5. Book or movie?
Book THEN movie

6. Dream vacation city?
San Francisco

7. While out in public did you ever realize that your shirt was on backwards or you were wearing your slippers and simply said “screw it?”
All the time. We live in a small country town, so the things you would see at our local Wal-Mart have more than likely been permanently documented on the world wide web. I’m guilty of a quick pajama run.

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