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Colleen Hoover on Unconventional Beginnings & Inspiration
Written by
She Writes
November 2019
Written by
She Writes
November 2019

Known affectionately as CoHo to her fans, the CoHorts, Colleen Hoover is the No. 1 New York Times bestselling author of 19 novels and novellas.

While many of her novels fall into the Young Adult and contemporary romance categories, she is also credited with founding the New Adult genre.

Her latest novel, Regretting You, will be released this month with a touching story about family, first loves, grief – and most importantly, the complex relationships between mothers and daughters.

On Unconventional Beginnings

Hoover’s start as a writer came almost accidentally as she wrote to kill time during her son’s theater practice. At the time, the small-town mother of three was living in a single-wide mobile home on her parents' property in Texas, and decided to write a book as a Christmas gift for her mother.  

Her goal was to share it with her family and a few friends, and to make it easy for them to access it, she uploaded it to Amazon.

"So I went on Facebook and I tagged my mom and my sister and a few of my friends and told them, 'Hey, I wrote this story. If y'all hurry up and get it, right now, it's free on Amazon.' Because I didn't want anyone to have to pay for it."

A few months later, that e-book, Slammed, was a New York Times best-seller.

The excerpt above was originally published in the Dallas Morning News. Read the full interview here.

On Mixed Media

Hoover’s start as a self-published author quickly transitioned when she was picked up by a traditional publisher, but that hasn’t stopped her from doing things her way. Fans love her creative approach to publishing her books with mixed media.

In Slammed, Hoover featured lyrics from her favorite band, The Avett Brothers, throughout the book. This started a bit of a trend for her, she says:

“I would see comments every now and then from readers that were like, ‘Oh, as soon as I finished the book I went and downloaded their music.’  I liked that. So that’s actually why I got the idea to do that with Maybe Someday and have its own soundtrack and write the music the characters actually write in the book. Because I saw that reaction from Slammed where people were actually enjoying that aspect of it, liked being able to do something beyond just reading the book.”

This excerpt was originally published in Book Riot. Read the full interview here.

In her book Confess, she did something similar – this time with art. Her character Owen, is an artist, and mid-book readers can see full-color illustrations of the paintings created by Owen alongside the confessions that inspired them. 

When she can, Colleen says she loves incorporating new and exciting elements like these into her books. Not just for readers, but so that she can have some more fun with the writing process, too.

She told Book Riot:

“Pulling in other artistic elements is more something for me because I just find it so cool to collaborate with musicians and artists. And it kind of enhances the book a little bit, beyond just a romance novel.”

On Process

Hoover says her books are not inspired by her real life – instead, she credits her wild imagination.

“I think it helps that I'm an empathetic person,” she told Pop Sugar. “And I kind of put myself in other people's shoes and imagine what it would feel like. I just don't take anything from real life, because if I did, my books would be about watching TV.”

When it comes to channeling that inspiration, Colleen says she writes a little every day, “just taking notes or working on the storyline.” When it’s time to get down to business though, she needs “quiet separation” to focus:

“[W]hen I actually get down to time to write the book, I have to lock myself away. I usually go stay in a hotel for a week or two at a time. Until the book is done. I can’t have interruptions. And I have three kids, so when I try to write at home it’s like constant revolving door.”

This excerpt was originally published in Book Riot. Read the full interview here. 

On Writing About Relationships

Hoover’s deep empathy for her characters is also what she says creates her biggest challenge when writing about their relationships.

“When I'm writing, I tend to take on the mood of the part of the story that I'm writing. So just knowing that's coming up, that someone is going to get their heart broken, or someone is going to cry, or someone is going to experience this great loss, I have to hurry up and write that scene and then write something happy.”

Often readers will stumble upon humor in the most unexpected places, and here she confesses why that is:  

“You find a lot of humor in my books especially in places you don't think there would be humor because I have to end it on a good note that day. If I end it really sad and the characters are really sad and there's not a funny line, then I kind of take on that mood. I feel bad for my husband.”

This excerpt was originally published in Pop Sugar. Read the full interview here.

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