“I honestly couldn’t be more grateful to Amazon and the way they treat self-published authors equal to published authors.” Interview with Colleen Hoover, author of SLAMMED.
June 13, 2012
Hi there! Here are some facts about today’s interviewee Colleen Hoover:
– She wrote her debut book in a month. A month!
– It’s currently #149 on Amazon IN THE ENTIRE STORE with 187 reviews and an average of 4.9 stars (WOW!)
– She self-published
– She just quit her full time job to do this full-time writing thang full-time
– She’s really nice. And talented. And I think you’re going to love this interview, AND her books. Find the links to SLAMMED & POINT OF RETREAT below.
1. Tell us a secret about yourself. Something juicy?
Not a lot of people know this, but my husband’s first name is William…hence the name “Will.” I get a lot of reader comments about how they wished men like Will existed. I’m 32 and I’ve been with my husband since I was 16. I can attest that great men do exist because I’m lucky enough to have one. (Although he doesn’t write poetry. *sigh*)
2. You write SLAMMED & POINT OF RETREAT in the 1st person, giving us in an intimate insight into your main characters, and you do it exceptionally well. It’s a hard thing to get right! What advice do you have for writers wanting to utilize the first person effectively?
To be honest, I’d never even attempted to write a book before. I didn’t give it any thought when I wrote the first sentence to Slammed. It was about five chapters in when I realized I should probably go back and pay more attention to what tense I used. Luckily, I had stuck with first person present tense so I didn’t have to change anything. The only advice I can give is what worked for me–get in the heads of your characters. I really tried to put myself in their shoes while writing and tried to feel what they felt, so writing everything in present tense helped convey those feelings.
3. In book 1 the story is told from Layken’s point of view, in book 2 it switches to Will’s. Why did you choose to do this? What has the reader reaction to this been like?
Not a lot of people have mentioned it, but most seem to like being inside Will’s head. I wrote the second book from his point of view because there wasn’t a lot I could do from Layken’s point of view with the way I wanted the story to go. I think we had a pretty good idea how Layken felt about Will, but not as good of an idea for how he felt about her and why he felt that way.
4. I read somewhere that you wrote SLAMMED in a month. Errrrr, how? Please share!
lol. I have always wanted to write a book, but have always had the issue of not following through with it. Once I got the idea to incorporate a character who ‘slams’ and started making notes, I couldn’t stop. I fell in love with the story and the characters and was too excited to stop writing. I worked 11 hour days and have three kids, so I would mostly write when no one was paying attention at work and while the kids were asleep. I think I slept a total of 3 or 4 hours a day the entire month. Point of Retreat took about six weeks to write. I just started my third book, but I’m making this process go a lot slower. I don’t think I can handle that kind of schedule again. I don’t know what got in to me.
5. SLAMMED is heart-wrenching, deals with death and a lot of sadness, and yet I didn’t feel at all depressed reading it. The story was heart-warming and gratifying. How did you do that?!
I have no idea. I think it helps that I’m not a big reader and had never before read a romance novel, so I didn’t write with a certain genre in mind. Also, I’m a very unemotional person which shocked a lot of my friends and family when they finally read the book. They didn’t understand how I could write about death and sadness, yet don’t seem to be affected by it so much in reality. Maybe that’s how I kept it sort of light, because that’s how I tend to look at life.
6. What has your self-publishing experience been like? Has anything about it surprised you?
I am surprised on a daily basis. I hate sounding like I entered this profession with blinders on, but that’s essentially what I did. I had heard about the Amazon self-publishing program when I was almost finished writing Slammed. The day I finished, I uploaded it to Amazon and made it free for a few days so my friends could read it. I thought I could approach publishers later if that’s where I wanted to go with it. I just didn’t think anyone would really read it and I certainly didn’t think it would become a best seller. I honestly couldn’t be more grateful to Amazon and the way they treat self-published authors equal to published authors. I never dreamed I would be able to make a career out of this, so the entire thing is just one huge shock.
7. For readers who don’t know, poetry-slamming is a spoken word poetry contest. Slamming is an integral part of both SLAMMED and POINT OF RETREAT – what is your experience with it?
I first saw a documentary called Brave New Voices on HBO. It’s a documentary about high school students from all over the nation that come together in a slam competition. The thing that blew me away was that, although it was essentially a competition, all of the students were so supportive of each other. If the slam was good, the opposing schools would give standing ovations. The teamwork and support was amazing. I started watching slams on youtube after that and actually watched one by a slam poet named Marty Schoenleber that just blew me away. It’s called “Push.” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cL3JEbr1sFI
It actually gave me the motivation I needed to actually start writing. Once Slammed was published, my best friend surprised me by contacting Marty and having him perform one of the poems out of my book. That was by far the best gift I’ve ever received. It’s on my website for those that want to see it. It’s amazing! http://colleenhoover.com/the-lake/
As far as actual experience with it, I’d never been to a live slam before. After I published both books, my friends and I took a trip to Dallas and attended a slam competition. It was incredible!
8. You created some fantastic and unique characters. What does the process of crafting such real, full and developed people look like for you?
I absolutely love writing. My favorite part is getting to know the characters as I write them. I didn’t make outlines or character notes, so I would just try to put myself in the mind of the characters as I wrote each scene. I didn’t really base them off of anyone I know other than Kel. My middle child is named Cale and he is a lot like Kel in the book. In fact, the scene with the snowman and the red koolaid actually happened with my boys.
9. You intertwine your love of the band, the Avett Brothers into your story. Are they aware of your stories? Tell us a little more about your fascination with them.
I discovered their music in 2010 and have been an avid fan since. I think their lyrics are beautiful and profound, especially the sentence that helped motivate me to finally write a book. “Decide what to be, and go be it.”
When I was writing Slammed, I thought it would be cool to give them a little ‘shout out’ in case people read the book that had not heard of them. I had just mentioned them a couple of times in the book, but when I was finished there were so many songs I had listened to while writing that I thought it would be cool if I could use the lyrics as chapter headings. I emailed their record label and asked for permission to use the lyrics and they gave me a prompt reply that it was fine. I was stoked! I think the band is aware of the book, but I doubt they are big readers of chick lit. lol. Their father did call me and wish me good luck following the release of my book, so that was definitely a highlight! They are seriously some of the nicest group of people so if I’ve turned even one reader onto their music, it was all worth it.
10. Would you rather wear a Nickelback T-shirt for a whole month or not write for a whole year? (Inside SLAMMED joke. Readers you’ll just have to read SLAMMED yourself to get it!)
Oh, god that’s a hard one. I guess I would have to wear the Nickelback shirt. (With a jacket, of course).
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