Interview with Colleen Hoover

Posted by Goodreads on August 5, 2014
Colleen Hoover After self-publishing her debut novel in 2012, Colleen Hoover experienced a dramatic life change. Within months of releasing Slammed on Amazon (for free!), it hit The New York Times bestseller list, which propelled her to complete the series and eventually leave her job as a social worker to be a full-time author. As forerunners of the in-demand niche categorized as New Adult—which highlight the challenges specific to late-teen and early-twenties living—Hoover's novels explore weighty themes with deeply sympathetic, relatable characters and a uniquely balanced sense of humor.

In Hoover's seventh novel, Ugly Love, Tate Collins meets her enigmatic neighbor Miles Archer moments after her move to San Francisco. Although they share a mutual attraction, he cautions her: "Don't ask about my past. And never expect a future." Both believe they can adhere to the rules of a purely physical relationship, until actual feelings start to emerge and the reason for Miles's reticence comes to the surface. Interviewer Regan Stephens spoke with Hoover about the whirlwind of her last two years, musical inspirations, and casting Zac Efron as any of her characters.

Goodreads: How did you come up with the idea for Ugly Love?

Colleen Hoover: You know, I get that question a lot, and I never really know where my inspiration comes from for my books. I kind of just...sit down and start writing. I never really know where I'm going with it. This book was a little different. I knew Miles's story before I knew Tate's story, so I actually went in and wrote all of Miles's chapters and his whole story before I started in on Tate's story. I wrote this one really different from how I usually write my books. It was interesting how it came out.

GR: You write about some heavy themes—things that many of your readers have probably never experienced—yet it's very easy to identify with your characters. How do you make them so relatable?

CH: I think, inadvertently, I put a lot of myself into all my characters. Your personality comes through in your writing, and I see that a lot in my female characters. Also, I don't know if you've read Finding Cinderella, but Daniel was just so much fun to write, and I think I took a lot of the humor that I like and put it into his character. That's what I love to read—just things that are real issues that people deal with on an everyday basis. I'm not very into paranormal, and so I kind of go into things that actually happen in people's lives and how they would deal with them. I don't know—it's worked? I don't really have a formula.

GR: Goodreads member Blythe Kuykendall asks, "Out of all your characters, who do you relate to most and why?"

CH: That's a tough one. Probably Sydney from Maybe Someday. I feel like the way she reacted to a lot of her situations is probably how I would react in real life. The one I probably relate to the least would be Layken from Slammed; I thought she was bratty at times [laughs], but of course she was 18 and I was 31 when I wrote it, so maybe I would have acted like that when I was 18.

GR: You wrote Ugly Love from two different perspectives—a male and female protagonist, which you've done before. Do you find it more difficult to write from the male perspective?

CH: I'm just surrounded by men all day [referring to her husband and three sons]. Actually, if you look, I think I've written more male perspectives than I have female perspectives, which was crazy when I realized that. I don't really find it a struggle at all; I think men and women are generally a lot alike in a lot of ways. I just really enjoy it. I actually like writing from the male perspective more than from the female perspective.

GR: The book also jumps in time—was it hard to write Miles pre- and post-tragedy?

CH: I wanted to have two different personalities come through for him, because the events he went through completely changed him as a person, and I was hoping I got that across. I'm thrown off a lot when I read from different timelines, and I go back and forth, so I was afraid when I went into that one—if I could pull it off. I think keeping Miles's chapters a little bit shorter helped keep the flow of the story and didn't confuse you too much.

GR: Goodreads member Nina Madrack asks, "What makes the character of Miles in Ugly Love different from any of the other male leading roles you have written?"

CH: We don't know a lot about him, so he's hard to read in the present-day chapters. You look at Will [from Slammed] and Holder [from Hopeless] and Daniel [from Finding Cinderella], and they're not alpha males. They're very sweet and would do anything for the girl in the book, but [Miles is] kind of different. You don't know what he's thinking, where he's going, why he treats her the way he does. It's harder to like him at first than the other characters.

GR: Your fans love fantasy movie-casting the characters in your books—many have a very definitive vision. Do you have such specific pictures as you write your characters? Do you imagine which actors would play these characters?

CH: You know, as I'm writing, I don't picture the characters at all. It's a blank face. I just picture a personality. It's really hard for me when I turn my books into my editor and she comes back and is like, "What color hair does he have? What color eyes does he have?" because that's not important to me. It's all about the personality. So I never picture anyone, and it's really interesting to me when the book releases and people start posting these things. They'll say, "I think Holder looks like this guy." It's interesting to see people's visions for the characters you create. And what's really crazy is when they're all very similar. But I have a thing for Zac Efron, so he could play anybody. [laughs]

GR: The novella Finding Cinderella revisits some Hopeless characters—do you ever imagine revisiting any of your other characters in future books?

CH: I write all my books to leave a little something open for a possible novella, because I never know what I want to write next. So yeah, absolutely, there are so many characters I want to write novellas for, and I don't think I have time to do it all. If I did, the next one would probably be Maybe Someday—I would love to see a Warren and Bridget novella. We'll see if I can fit that in my schedule. Also Corbin from Ugly Love—I would really like to do a novella on him.

GR: You write very rich minor characters—I'm thinking about Cap [from Ugly Love], Eddie [from Slammed], and Six [from Hopeless]—all with big personalities. Where do you find the inspiration for these characters?

CH: I have some really crazy sisters with big personalities. They're both my best friends, and I think, If I were in the situations that these characters are in, I would want someone like that by my side. With Ugly Love, it's really interesting. I actually finished the entire book before going back and adding in Cap's character. I wrote a rough draft and got everything out that I wanted to get out, and then I realized—Tate needs a best friend! I don't know why I thought an 80-year-old man would be the perfect best friend for her, but it worked. I went in and rewrote a lot of the story to add him in there. I don't know how I wrote the book without him to begin with.

GR: I read that Ugly Love was the first of your books that "ever made [you] shed a tear while writing it." I can guess which part that must be (I cried, too!). As a parent yourself, it must have been incredibly difficult to write. Why did you feel it was a necessary addition to the story?

CH: I don't know that I felt it was a necessary addition. It was just his story, so I had to tell it. I think you would be surprised at what part made me cry; it might not be the part you think.

GR: Oh, really? Which part made you cry?

CH: Rachel's house. When they went in and looked at her daughter—that was really hard to write.

GR: After the smashing success of your debut self-published novel, Slammed, in what ways has your life changed?

CH: Oh, my gosh. My entire life has changed, but then again it's exactly the same. [laughs] That doesn't make sense. But you've got to understand, my husband and I, we started dating when I was 16 and got married when I was 20. I went to college, we had three kids while I was in college, and I worked full-time. We lived in a single-wide trailer. My kids grew up in a mobile home. Until two years ago we were still living there. I've always wanted to write, and I don't know that I ever had the confidence to do it. Or maybe I just...I was busy, I had three kids and was working full-time. I came to the conclusion that writers don't make much money, and I was actually majoring in journalism, so I switched my major to social work. I just thought, I need to do something that will get me out of college really fast and get me working so I can support my kids.

I did that for several years, and then I sat down one day for fun and got it in my head that I was going to write this book, submit it to agents, and try to become an author. I just did it for fun. I let my mom read it, I let my friends read it, and then more people wanted to read it, so I threw it up on Amazon, not expecting anything. And a few months later it hit The New York Times [bestseller list], and I'm like—What is going on? I was at work when I saw that it hit The New York Times. I was making enough money in a week off this book to support us for a year, and I was still scared to quit my job—I was like, "It can stop any minute, it can stop any minute." So, you know, I'm very hesitant to call this a career yet, because it's all happened so fast. It's been crazy. At the same time, we still live where I grew up. No one treats me any different. My kids—I don't even think they realize what's going on. It was crazy, too, because I'm at work, and my agent calls me, and I see it, and people were like, "What happened? Did you go celebrate?" I'm like, "No, I finished working." I was thinking, "That's really awesome, but I'm pretty sure they're going to show up at my door and tell me they made a mistake."

GR: Did you ever end up celebrating?

CH: You know, I don't think we did! I mean, I'm sure we probably went to Red Lobster, which is still fancy to us. [laughs] It's been a whirlwind, and I wouldn't change it for anything.

GR: Goodreads member Beck Roberts asks, "Was there a single defining moment or event where you suddenly thought, 'Now I'm an Author,' as in—this is now my career?"

CH: I don't ever want to consider myself an author, because then it will feel like it's a job. I love going into writing a book knowing, I can write this if I want to, I don't have to write it if I don't want to. I feel like if it starts to become work, then I might not love it as much. I just want to continue treating this as a hobby. It's just a very well-rewarding hobby right now. [laughs]

GR: Music plays an important role in your books [for Maybe Someday Hoover even collaborated with musician Griffin Peterson to include a soundtrack with the novel]—how does it incorporate into your own life and writing process?

CH: Music is actually the reason why I started writing my first novel. I was at an Avett Brothers concert, and there's a line in one of their songs that says, "Decide what to be, and go be it." And I was standing there, staring at up Seth Avett, who is beautiful, and I thought, "Why am I not just writing for fun? If I want to write a book, I don't have to put expectations on it, I just want to go do it." And a week later I started writing Slammed. When I finished that one, I knew what an impact those lyrics had on it, so I incorporated their lyrics into the book. Music just really inspires me; it inspires a lot of my ideas.

Ugly Love is actually inspired by a band called the Airborne Toxic Event. Listening to their music, I kind of got an idea for Miles's character and went with that. And actually their acronym for their band is TATE, which is why I named [the main character] Tate. It has a huge impact on my books, and sometimes it's really in your face, like the Avett Brothers, and sometimes it's not. I don't mention the band at all in Ugly Love. Miles's middle name is Mikel, and that's the singer's name in the Airborne Toxic Event. What's funny, though, is that I can't listen to music at all when I write. I have to have complete silence.

GR: Did you get a lot of support from the people in your life when you started writing Slammed?

CH: I started writing the book that November and my husband had just started driving a truck, so he was home two days the entire next month. I was working 11-hour days, raising three kids, and writing was kind of my escape, so I didn't really talk about it. I did tell my mom I was writing this story, but I'd actually gotten several chapters in before I let anyone read any of it. I let my boss read it, I let my mom read it, and I let my sisters read it. All of them were hounding me, and that's what made it so much fun for me. I thought—these people are really enjoying something I'm writing, let me go write some more. It gave me a lot of encouragement to finish it. My boss actually—we worked for the state, for WIC—she wanted the next chapter so bad, she would lock me in my office and see my clients for me and tell me to just write. And my husband was really supportive. I told him I was writing a story, I didn't even call it a book at the time. And he was like, all right, cool, have fun. There were no expectations on it. I didn't expect it to pay any of our bills. I put it up on Amazon for free the first few days. It's insane how all of that turned into this.

GR: Goodreads member Madalyn asks, "In Slammed the Avett Brothers' music plays a significant part in the lives of Layken and Will. Which Avett Brothers song or album is your favorite, and why?"

CH: I think probably "Head Full of Doubt/Road Full of Promise" because it inspired the book. That's a really great song. I really love their live albums, and Emotionalism is a really great album when you feel like you need to sit down and pout. I can't even tell you which is my favorite song. It's different every day. Also, I don't know if you know this, but yesterday Griffin Peterson—who did the music for Maybe Someday—sent me a song for Ugly Love, called "Ugly Love" [now available]. It's awesome—he got the lyrics spot on.

GR: What advice can you offer to aspiring writers?

CH: I think if you are a confident writer and you think that your books are awesome, that's when you have a problem. I go back and rewrite and rewrite and rewrite. If I didn't have a deadline, I would probably still be writing these books. I still don't feel like I'm in a place to give anyone advice on being a writer. Because basically, the only thing I try to do is ignore what's trending, ignore what people are saying they want, and just write what I want to read. If you're writing something you're interested in and that you love, it will show in your writing. When I wrote Slammed, it was college-age characters, poetry, all the things that people were saying—don't do that. Publishers weren't accepting those books because college-age kids didn't really have time to read. They were actually [listed] on websites—things not to submit to agents, and that included anything with poetry in it. And if I had tried to write for what was popular and what was being accepted at that point, I honestly believe Slammed would have never reached the hands of the readers. I just think it's really important to ignore everything and write what you want to write.

GR: Can you describe your writing process? Is there any specific ritual you follow?

CH: I am the most disorganized person you'll ever meet. I have no schedule, I lose things all the time [laughs], so I don't know how I sit down and write a story from beginning to end. But one thing I know that I have to have is peace and quiet. We're building a house right now, and I've got an office, and then a secret writing room, which isn't a secret anymore because I just told you about it. My kids know that if the door is shut, they're not allowed to go in there. I have to have hours of uninterrupted writing time. The littlest thing, like my husband coming in and asking me what I want to do for dinner, will throw me off, and I may not get back in the groove for the entire day. So I just need lots of time blocked off.

GR: What are you reading? Have you read anything you've really enjoyed lately?

CH: The last book I read was Infinity + One by Amy Harmon. It's an indie book, and I really enjoyed it. I'm a big nonfiction fan—true crime stories. When I finished writing Slammed, and put it on Amazon, Amazon makes you put it into a category. I thought, It's not a romance, so I put it into drama and poetry. I even had it categorized wrong! Now that's all I read—I love NA, I love contemporary romance. It's been interesting how things have changed in my reading patterns since I started writing. When I started writing my first book, I had never read a romance book.

GR: What's your next book?

CH: It's called Confess, and it comes out in February.


Interview by Regan Stephens for Goodreads. Regan lives in Brooklyn and contributes to People.com.

Learn more about Regan and follow what she's reading.

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Comments Showing 1-50 of 408 (408 new)


message 1: by Crissi (new)

Crissi Great review! Colleen Hoover is not only a really good writer, she's made herself like a friend to her fans. I love following her on Facebook and getting to be a part of all the silly snippets of her life that she shares with us. I'm looking forward to reading her latest book!


message 2: by Cynthia (new)

Cynthia What a nice write up. I follow on FB and love reading all the articles that Colleen sends out. Great books of course. Keep up the super writing, Colleen.

Cynthia


message 3: by Pavan (new)

Pavan What a fantastic interview! Colleen Hoover is an amazing writer so it was nice to kind of get into her head :) Can't wait to read Ugly Love!


message 4: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Richardson Great interview can't wait to read this book!


message 5: by Melanie (last edited Aug 07, 2014 04:49PM) (new)

Melanie Tracey Awesome interview!!! You rock Colleen!


message 6: by Jenny (new)

Jenny HM Reads awesome interview! Can't wait to read this!!


message 7: by Joanne (new)

Joanne Just started this book and I am so excited to read another one of Colleen's fantastic stories!!


message 8: by Robin (new)

Robin What an awesome interview. I like learning more about your writing style and how the book came to be. Have heard a tom of great things about it.


message 9: by Erin (new)

Erin Great interview! Super excited to read this!


message 10: by Mary (new)

Mary Great interview! I love everything you write!


message 11: by Antonietta (new)

Antonietta Iacobacci I just bought it and I will be starting it tonight!! I can't wait!!!


message 12: by Molly (new)

Molly Beautiful interview. Fantastic book. Phenomenal author.


message 13: by Marika (new)

Marika Love this woman! Awesome books and epic stories!!! I stalk on fb and twitter. Sometimes Colleen Hoover makess me laugh so hard. Her posts are always great and funny. #CoHorts are the best! :D


message 14: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Gutridge Awesome! I absolutely cannot wait to read Ugly Love!


message 15: by Elizabeth (new)

Elizabeth Great interview. You're one of the best out there!!


message 16: by Kimberly (new)

Kimberly Awesome Review!! Colleen is one of my favorite Author's!! I haven't read Ugly Love yet and can't wait to see how great this book is!!


message 17: by Brandi (new)

Brandi Fantastic interview! Thanks for sharing :)


message 18: by Carrie (new)

Carrie Great interview. I've loved watching your writing evolve. And I hope someday we get to see one of your books play out on the big screen.


message 19: by Belinda (new)

Belinda Wonderful, informative interview-- nice job, Regan & CoHo!!!!! Colleen Hoover is so. DAMN. talented.


message 20: by Jessie (new)

Jessie Henriquez Awesome author! Butterflying awesome!!!


message 21: by Tatia (new)

Tatia Love the interview. Being a parent, thinking about what happens in UL, it's hard. But I also cried at the scene at Rachel's house. I absolutely loved the story, well, I've loved them all. The music from MS and the song with UL, for me, just enhance the experience and make me love the books that much more. Thank you for the interview. And thank you, Colleen, for writing such amazing books.


message 22: by Lydia (new)

Lydia Great interview! I love reading about what inspires my favorite authors and their process while writing.


Sugar and Spice Book Reviews Great interview! Ugly Love was absolutely amazing and Colleen is a phenomenonal writer!


message 24: by Katie (last edited Aug 08, 2014 02:16PM) (new)

Katie Still need to read Ugly Love and Maybe Someday. Can't wait! You are such an awesome writer! Thanks so much for this chance. I love everything you write!! :) Congrats on all your success and being loyal to all of your readers! So cool all the giveaways you do!


message 25: by Kelly (new)

Kelly Clevinger Bernard Great interview! Colleen is an amazing writer and I can't get enough of her books.


message 26: by Lena ♫ ♪ (new)

Lena ♫ ♪ Fantastic interview! I can't believe you were married, had three kids by 20, living in a trailer, and worked a full time job, all while writing SLAMMED. Incredible. I don't know anyone that deserves this success as much as you.

*slow claps*


message 27: by Yesenia (new)

Yesenia Love the interview!! Thanks for writing all these great stories. I can't wait to read Ugly Love....shhhh I know, I know. I'm getting on that soon. :-)


message 28: by None (new)

None Love this interview and Colleen's other books! Hopeless has been my favorite so far, but I can't wait to read Ugly Love.


message 29: by Kristin (new)

Kristin Great interview. I'm still cracking up at the fact that Red Lobster is still "fancy"! I love a good cheddar bay biscuit, too.


message 30: by Beccy (new)

Beccy Can't wait to read this :D


message 31: by Shannon (new)

Shannon She is phenomenal!I really want to read this, have read everything she's written!


message 32: by Kimmie (new)

Kimmie Looking forward to reading my first Colleen Hoover book...congrats on your success!


 Megan • Reading Books Like a Boss (book blog) LOVED this interview. I teared up at the same time Coleen did. I really enjoyed Ugly Love and cannot WAIT for Confess!


message 34: by Alessia (new)

Alessia Colleen is a phenomenal writer. What makes me love her even more than her writing is her humbleness and her humor. She is so giving to her fans and I have never met another author like her. She puts her heart and soul into every single word she writes and it shows. Bravo, Colleen, for not only being an inspiring author, but an inspiring human being.


message 35: by Allie (new)

Allie Means I just want to say how amazing Colleen is. I love her books and she makes me laugh. I really hope I'm chosen to win.


message 36: by Brooke (new)

Brooke Kennedy Colleen Hoover is awesome. Hopeless is one of my all time favorite books!


message 37: by Julie (last edited Aug 07, 2014 04:58PM) (new)

Julie Garrett Loved Loved Loved this interview.....soon as i get money saved up I will be buying this book!!!


message 38: by Beth (new)

Beth Just started reading Ugly Love and love it.


message 39: by Jenny (new)

Jenny Loved Ugly Love, can't wait for her next book.


message 40: by Amanda (new)

Amanda Best interview ever!! And I can't believe it, but that's the exact moment that I cried while reading Ugly Love. When he said, "you gave him a sister." OMG. TEARS, LOTS OF TEARS. I don't know how Colleen does it, but she's always writing something like nothing else I've ever read and I can't wait for Confess!!!


message 41: by Marissa (new)

Marissa Absolutely LOVED this book! I have read all of Colleen Hoover's books and they all are amazing. I cried, I smiled, and felt every possible emotion reading Ugly Love. She has easily become my favorite author! Looking forward to February! :)


message 42: by Nicole (new)

Nicole De La Cruz Wow that's awesome!! I used to write all the time! And the. One day I just stopped. I really think I'm going to start again based on what colleen said. Of she can do it and raise a family I know I can too!!


Brooke (The Cover Contessa) Fantastic interview!!!


message 45: by Nat (new)

Nat Great interview! I can't wait to read it. Hoover is BY FAR my favorite author.


message 46: by Jen (new)

Jen Loved this interview. As a very new Coleen Hoover fan I loved learning more about her.


message 47: by Rosie (new)

Rosie AvidReader Awesome interview. Thanks for explaining more about Miles. And I totally am with you on the part where you cried....I was devastated by it. Shocked about Clayton accident but devastated over him seeing Rachel's baby girl. Congrats on all tour success!


message 48: by Melissa (new)

Melissa I am excited to read both Ugly Love and any future books by Colleen Hoover


message 49: by Missy (new)

Missy Fern - BFD Book Blog So love hearing about you and your personal stories! Big fan, baby girl! Thanks!


message 50: by D.B. (new)

D.B. Loved this interview. I find it very interesting that Cap was added in after your initial draft. Never stop writing Colleen. Seriously.


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