If there’s one word I can think of to describe Colleen, it would be calm…serene even. I caught her quietly signing a huge stack of cards for National Bookstore with her writing hand still bandaged up from signing hundreds of books in the days prior, at the events in both Cebu and Manila. She simply kept on doing so until it was time for my interview.
This is a woman who has had 12 books on the New York Times Bestsellers list since starting only 4 years ago. A woman who never imagined how her passion for the written word could take her into the lives of so many. A writer who masterfully weaves unbelievable stories and makes the readers care for each and every one of her characters.
Here is my conversation with Colleen Hoover:
Lyn: How has your trip been?
Colleen: It's my first time in manila and it has been really really good. It's probably my favorite trip so far
L: I saw the book event in Megamall and it was crazy full
C: it was insane!
L: There were hundreds of people there! So how is your right hand after all that signing? (note: at the time of this interview, her right hand was wrapped in a bandage)
C: It's okay. I usually don’t sign for that many in the US and they’re not that enthusiastic either so it was crazy and it was awesome
L: So what was the nicest reaction that you got from your fans?
C: I think just walking out and hearing everyone screaming for us. You know they’re subdued in the US so it was a different reaction that we’ve never had before. All three of us were just really overwhelmed
L: Was it like a rockstar reception?
C: Yeah we felt like One Direction
L: For your book CONFESS, you asked your readers to submit real confessions, some of which you included in the book. Which confession was the most painful to read?
C: There was one that I included that was probably the hardest about a woman who was molested by her father and it was still going on and she’s a grown woman and married and it was just really really sad
L: I saw that too and that was really hard to swallow. Did you put your own confession in the book?
C: I didn’t.. (laughs)
L: You commissioned paintings for CONFESS. Did you let the artist read your book before the paintings were made?
C: I didn’t even ask him to actually do that because that’s a lot of work and I was still writing it as he was painting them so it was hard. I told him about the scenes and the confessions and just kind of gave him the idea of what I wanted. a couple of them he had already painted and I bought them because I thought they fit the scene so it was a little of both
L: All the paintings were beautiful
C: He’s so good
L: He is. Do you have them all?
C: Yes. I bought the originals of all of them. I gave one to Tarryn, one to my mom, one to both my sisters then I kept one
L: Which one did you keep?
C: I kept the one of Owen’s mother. That one I have hung up in the bookstore that I own and it looks really great in there
L: Your latest book NOVEMBER 9 is coming out in two months. What can we expect from the book? Is it inspired by the movie SAME TIME NEXT YEAR?
C: I actually don’t know that movie but there is a movie called ONE DAY and it focuses on one day every year and the couples know each other, kind of like Sleepless in Seattle but this one’s different in that they meet, they have a great connection and they have absolutely zero contact except for November9 every year so every chapter is just a different November9
L: Is this going to make readers bleed again? Because your books like Confess and Hopeless are so heart wrenching
C: It can get a little bit sad but this one is a lot funner than some of my other books but it also has probably one of the biggest plot twist since HOPELESS so I'm excited about that
L: What inspires you to write?
C: I'm a people watcher. I get my ideas from everyday. I think writers get inspiration from everything and the challenge to me is narrowing it down. But I don’t take inspiration from real life, from people I know. I try to avoid that because I don’t want anyone getting mad at me. I just try to come up with something new and different and completely opposite of the life that I live.
L: In terms of topics, your books tackle the deepest and hardest ones like rape, incest, suicide, kidnapping….is it hard hard at all to write these things emotionally?
C: I'm not an emotional person and that’s why I think I write about this stuff because it's not that hard for me like I did Child Protective Services, I was an investigator for 7 years so I've seen a lot of stuff and I've kind of had to learn hot to separate my emotions from things but I think the only one that ever really got to me and the tears almost came out is when I was writing UGLY LOVE. It doesn’t happen a lot
L: Ultimately what do you want your readers to feel after reading your words?
C: I honestly want readers to read my books and be entertained but I try not to send a particular message or change anyone’s life. I feel like that would put a lot of pressure on me so my main priority is to make sure that when they read my book, they get to escape their own reality for a few hours or a few days, however long it takes for them to read it and that they feel good when it ends. I'm not one that culd write a sad ending. There are a lot of sad things in my book but I feel like I wrap it up pretty well.
L: They are hopeful in the end
L: Some of your books have been optioned for film. Which one will we be seeing first?
C: Definitely UGLY LOVE, it is in pre production right now and it's ahead of the rest so hopefully that would be next year
L: Are you involved in it?
C: I don’t have a lot of involvement. The readers actually chose the actor. The female lead hasn’t been cast yet, I had never even heard of Nick Bateman before
L: He’s gorgeous I just saw him online
C: He is gorgeous. Readers just kept commenting and tagging him. His producer emailed me and said we are seeing this on our end too, tell us about this book. Nick read it and I was on tour and was going to Toronto the following week and he lives in Toronto so I met with him and his producer so I ended up signing the book over to them which is kind of odd to sign a book over and already have an actor but the readers wanted him so it’s good that the readers seem to have a lot of say in how this movie is gonna play out
L: Of your books, which one is your favorite in terms of plot?
C: In terms of plot probably HOPELESS but overall MAYBE SOMEDAY is my favorite book
L: Which one has the best memories attached to it
C: SLAMMED. Only because it was my first book, I didn’t have any expectations of it and writing it was so much fun and the excitement after it was just released, everytime something would happen. I love going back and seeing the posts from way back then and how excited we were
L: Does it still surprise you? When people text or tweet you about loving your work?
C: Yes…yes…. I just started writing about 4 years ago so you know I have 12 New York Times bestsellers now and everyday I’d wake up and I'm like HOW did this happen? Because it’s all gone so fast I don’t think it has caught up with me yet but yeah, I still wonder how people outside of my hometown has even heard of the books.
L: Has your life changed so much?
C: A ton. But then it's still the same. I still live where I grew up, my kids go to the same school. We lived paycheck to paycheck. We were very poor. We lived in a single wide mobile home for years and we just built our dream house on the land that our old house was on. I was able to build my parents a house. You know a lot of good things have come out of it
L: What have your kids said about your books? How old are they by the way?
C: My kids are 9, 11 and 14
L: Have you allowed your 14 year old to read your books?
C: I let them read SLAMMED if they want. My 14 year old got 4 chapters in and then said This is too much about romance. And then my 11 year old read it when he was 10. He liked it but he didn’t go to the 2nd one. He might wanna wait a little while for that one. But the rest of them they’re too young to read those. And they’re boys so they read Diary of a Wimpy Kid and Harry Potter
L: Which male character of all your books is your favorite
C: Probably Ridge from MAYBE SOMEDAY.
L: Why is that
C: I feel like he is in a tough position and the situation that he was in, falling in love with two different girls and the way he handled it, I thought it was very mature
L: How about female character
C: Probably SKY from HOPELESS. I liked her sense of humor and she’s a little bit sarcastic. I put a lot of myself into her
L: Would you be willing to write EXTRA novellas of your most popular characters
C: Yeah. I have actually thought about that it just depends on time. I'm under contract for certain length of books with the publishers so depending on what they want and when they want it, that leaves me time to write novellas.
L: What else can we look forward to from you
C: Tarryn (Fisher) and I are finisher the third book in NEVER NEVER and that wraps up the series and it's gonna be out end of January and November9. I haven't started on my next book yet. Trying to get touring over first then I'm gonna go hoem and figure out what I'm gonna write
FAST QUESTION on favorites:
L: Let’s play fast questions of favorites. What's your favorite drink:
C: Diet Pepsi
C: Anything chocolate
L: Favorite book
C: That’s a tough one.
L: Perhaps books that inspired you to be an author?
C: Shel Silverstein. I read all the books he wrote
L: Favorite vacation spot
C: Saint Thomas. That was really nice
C: Sleep. I don’t get it a lot
L: Movie of all time
C: Oh brother where art thou. It's so funny
L: Book recommendations
C: Books by Christine Brae, Tarryn Fisher (laughs). I’m a big fan of the Sea of Tranquility by Katja Millay
L: That’s why it was in Hopeless!
C: Yeah I gave it a shout out in Hopeless. It's a really good book you should read it.You can catch Colleen Hoover, along with fellow bestselling authors Tarryn Fisher and Christine Brae at their book signing event courtesy of the National book store this Saturday, September 19, 2015 at 5pm at the NBS booth at the Manila International Book Fair, SMX Convention Center.
Limited to 200 slots only! Registration starts at 10am for this event. Only books purchased from National Book Store, NBS Express or Powerbooks will be accommodated
A special thanks to Mr. JB Roperos of the National Book Store