Bestselling Authors' Exclusive Insights on Their Biggest Books

Posted by Mimi on December 10, 2020

Ever wonder what bestselling authors like Sarah J. Maas, Neil GaimanPaulo Coelho, or Tayari Jones were thinking as they were writing? Now you can find out...

Go behind the scenes with these popular books for an exclusive peek at all their Kindle Notes & Highlights, and be sure to add the books that pique your interest to your Want to Read shelf.


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The only thing all the intended disorientation had accomplished was to familiarize her with the building. Idiots. 

"This line still makes me smile, even so many years after first writing it! It’s such classic Celaena/Aelin—showing her smarts, her training, but also her sass. One of the things I love most about her is that she’s a survivor, and at this point, she’s just spent a year in one of the worst places imaginable. Yet ..."

Read more to find out why Sarah J. Maas says "I am such a dork!"


 
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There is only one thing that makes a dream impossible to achieve: the fear of failure.

"First and foremost, I am a writer—and a writer is always facing the challenge of a new book. This is, for me, what makes life interesting: there is always a new book to be written, which involves pain, joy, suffering, relief, feelings of a person who is alive. Do I have the fear of failure? Yes. But I can’t be paralyzed by this. To do that, I need to ..."

Read more to find out what Paulo Coelho says is the secret to the success of his books.
 


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There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair.

"I’ve noticed a pattern, which is that I often enter a story, as a writer, from a male character’s perspective—and then about fifty pages in, I discover that the story is not really his at all. The earliest version of Divergent was written from the perspective of ..."

Read more to find out which character's perspective Veronica Roth originally wrote from.
 



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He was no longer scared of what tomorrow might bring, because yesterday had brought it.

"So, I was looking at beginning the story with Shadow in prison. He’s watching everything a little bit warily, and you will learn eventually that a whole bank robbery happened, and he was a driver, and yet he managed to get away and then everything went wrong. And then you think, 'Okay, I really get why this gave you a place where you could stop worrying and just exist day to day.' I love the fact that people respond to that."

Read more to find out what else Neil Gaiman loves to hear from readers.
 


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But home isn’t where you land; home is where you launch. You can’t pick your home any more than you can choose your family. In poker, you get five cards. Three of them you can swap out, but two are yours to keep: family and native land.

"As much as I have tried to convince myself that we can make our own reality, writing this book made me realize that this is sort of a fantasy. We don’t make ourselves up out of thin air."

Read more to find out which true stories in Tayari Jones' own life made it into An American Marriage.


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Astrid changed all this. She wasn’t a rebel, because to call her one would imply that she was breaking the rules. Astrid simply made her own rules.

"This is still one of the most asked questions of me at book events: Is Astrid based on a real person? Yes, she absolutely is, and yes, she is even more fabulous, fashionable, and lovely in reality. Over the years, there have been numerous articles speculating on who the real Astrid might be..."

Read more to find out what other characters and scenes Kevin Kwan reveals were inspired by real life.
 



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Make friends with fear, Lucien always said, because it will not go away, and it will destroy you if left uncontrolled. 

"A trial lawyer, like a gladiator in a fight, walks into the courtroom with a dozen things to be afraid of. Big trials usually start on Monday, and the lawyers work around the clock all weekend getting ready. There is a mountain of stress and tension. And fear. The stakes are so high, especially in a death penalty case. The great trial lawyers learn to handle the fear and use it to their advantage. There’s an old saying: 'If you’re not afraid you’re not ready.' "

Read more to find out what scene John Grisham says,"is still hard to take. I can’t read it now."

 
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Layla pointing out the leaves when the wind makes them all wave at once.

"This was such a fun, surprising sentence to write. It is late in the lives of these characters, but I loved picturing Layla pointing out the leaves rustling to Rafiq, even at that age, because when she was in her early twenties and the proposal from Rafiq had just come, her thought is: 'The wind rises. It moves through the branches of the bougainvillea and all the leaves quiver like clapping hands, their rustle a round of applause.' ”

Read why Sarah Jessica Parker picked this as the first book in her imprint SJP for Hogarth.
 


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I crack open my cookie and slip the fortune out of it. “If you only shine light on your flaws, all your perfects will dim."

"Originally, this book was going to be called, 'All Your Perfections.' There were many variations of this line in the beginning, but once I began writing the scene this quote appeared in, I changed 'Perfections' to 'Perfects.' I had received a fortune cookie earlier that day and a word was grammatically incorrect, so I pulled from that experience as I was writing the scene."

Read more to find out the Easter egg Colleen Hoover hid in All Your Perfects. 
 


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I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.

"To me, this is one of the simplest lines in the novel. I think that the reason people are moved by this line, is because of the resonance of that simplicity: perhaps, all of us to some extent have felt a limitation because of our bodies being told it could not perform a task or a be a certain kind of thing. Especially, when it comes to gender, there’s sooo many constraints around how folks feel they can be in the world." 

Read more for Elizabeth Acevedo's insider story behind the most quoted line in The Poet X.
 


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It’s like his back is broken, Mama had said, and you don’t stop loving a person when they’re hurt. You get stronger so they can lean on you. He needs me. Us.

"This passage is the core of Cora’s obsessive love for her husband. Part of it is rooted in the sad truth of PTSD and the returning Vietnam veterans; so many came home psychologically and emotionally scarred. But the greater part of it is Cora’s desperate/toxic love for a controlling and increasingly dangerous man."

Read more as Kristin Hannah shares how her personal loss bled into The Great Alone.
 


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William Hamleigh could hardly contain his excitement when Earlscastle came into sight. It was the afternoon of the day after the king had made his decision. William and Walter had ridden for most of two days but William did not feel tired. He felt as if his heart was swelling up in his chest and blocking his throat. He was about to see Aliena again. 

"Of all the villains I have created, William Hamleigh is the one readers most love to hate. Critics sometimes say that a villain should not be all black, but should have a streak of gray, some redeeming trait, to be realistic. The heck with that, say I, and William proves my point."

Read more to find out which character Ken Follett says is the best he has ever created.
 

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Want more author Kindle Notes & Highlights? Check out over 50 books with popular insider notes in this Listopia. Let us know other books you would like to see annotations for in the comments! 
 

Comments Showing 1-3 of 3 (3 new)

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message 1: by Suzanne, Goodreads employee (new)

Suzanne Another set I got so much out of was Alix Harrow's notes on her book, The Once and Future Witches. I learned so much! https://www.goodreads.com/notes/53543...


message 2: by Alexw (new)

Alexw Fascinating chat with Ken Follett on what his experiences in life were used to flesh out his character in his novels.


message 3: by Pen&Quill (new)

Pen&Quill  Read Tricia Levenseller. More specifically daughter of the pirate King and the shadows between us!


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