About a month ago, I posted a review of the Slammed Series, by Colleen Hoover. Again, this book changed me, as in I bought an Avett Brothers CD and started writing again amazing, as in I'm working on an actual book myself amazing.
Colleen, incidentally, is a simply awesome human being and she agreed to do an interview for my blog. Here it is!
1. How long have you been writing?
Professionally? About 7 months. For fun, since I was five. I love, love, love to write. Slammed was my first attempt at a novel. I started it in December, 2011 and published it in January.
2. What inspired you to write Slammed?
I can’t say what one thing it was. It was really a culmination of things. I had an idea to write about a slam poet, I wanted to write something for my mother for Christmas, and I had plenty of time on my hands to think about it during my child’s theater rehearsals every night. I started making notes and ended up with a rough draft of a first chapter. I had no intentions of making a book, but once I fell in love with the characters I couldn’t stop.
3. When you started Slammed, did you know all along there would be a follow-up book?
I didn’t at all. Even after I published Slammed and a few of my friends were demanding more, I took it so far as to write a blog about how the story was finished and I wouldn’t be writing more about them. But one night I shot up out of bed, wondering what would have happened had Lake not had the courage to go slam for Will. I started writing ideas down for potential sequel drama, and by the next day I had an idea for book 2.
4. How long did you spend writing Slammed, and Point of Retreat?
I don’t like to count it in terms of days because Slammed took me less than thirty days to write. What people don’t realize is that I spent every spare waking minute to write it, so the hours I spent on it could be equivalent to having spent a couple of hours a day on it for six months. Does that make sense? Lol. Point of Retreat took about the same amount of time. There’s no way in hell I could spit a book out now in thirty days now, though. I didn’t think anyone would read those so I didn’t feel any pressure while writing them. It’s completely different now.
5. Did you try the traditional publishing route? If so, why did you go self pub? If not, why did you go right to self pub?
I didn’t know what the heck I was doing. Once I realized I had a book on my hands, I researched every possible avenue and learned everything I could learn in the short amount of time I’d been “writing.” I didn’t hesitate to self-publish once I learned about Amazon’s KDP program. I didn’t have enough confidence in my writing ability to think I had a chance with an agent considering how hard it is to get one.
6. Slammed is full of excellent poetry- have you always written poetry?
I wouldn’t call it poetry. Lol. I would write off-the-wall, silly things for friends. But I’ve never written anything emotional or serious before until the poetry in Slammed.
7. What appeals to you about Slam Poetry, specifically?
Everything. The bravery of the poets, the truthfulness to their words, the performance aspect of it. I first watched it on a documentary called Brave New Voices on HBO and fell in love with it.
8. Are you surprised by the awesomeness that is the success of the Slammed Series?
Floored. Daily. I had no idea it would reach the level of success it has. I wrote this on a whim, without any expectations at all. The fact that people are reading words that I wrote, and enjoying them, is a dream come true!
9. Who is your favorite character?
Oh, it’s Will. Hands down.
10. Would you like to see it as a movie? I would.
Heck yeah! That would be unbelievable.
11. What advice do you have for authors who are attempting their first work?
A lot. A WHOLE lot. I’ll try to keep it short.
1) Never let anyone else influence your work. Write from your heart and don’t compare yourself to other authors. Every writing style has a reader, and you’ll eventually find yours.
2) Never publicly bad-mouth another authors writing. Unfortunately, I’m seeing that a lot on Twitter these days. It’s in poor taste and suggests that you think your own writing is free of error. No one is perfect.
3) Don’t force your book down people’s throats. If people want to read it, they’ll read it. Begging people to buy your book only turns people off, it doesn’t gain you readers.
4) Don’t write what’s selling. If I would have listened to all the advice out there, I would have NEVER written a piece of poetry in my book. Everywhere you look, agents and publishers advise against poetry. If I would have listened, I honestly don’t think Slammed would be where it is today. I guess it wouldn’t be, period. If you listen to the masses, you’ll get lost in the masses.
5) You will feel like your writing is complete and utter shit. A lot. Some days you will think you are the most brilliant person on the planet. These vast swings in self-worth are needed to flush out the crap and write more of the great. Every author feels this way. The worry should set in when you STOP doubting yourself.
12. Do you have any advice specific to those of us attempting the self-publishing route?
Don’t go in with expectations. If you expect to have a best-seller right out of the gate, you’ll be let down. I realize my success happened really quickly and is rare, but it worries me that other authors will compare themselves to the authors who have had fast success. Just finishing your manuscript is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. Give it your best effort and be proud of every single milestone you reach. Wether it’s a best-seller or not, you accomplished something that millions of people only dream of.
13. What are you working on now?
Well, based on reader demand, I’m finishing up Will’s Story. I really didn’t have any intention of writing or publishing this, but it sort of just happened. Now that I’ve put the first chapter out there, I’m afraid I’ll let a lot of readers down if I don’t finish it.
I’m also working on a stand-alone titled FALL TOGETHER. It’s about a young girl and guy who are sort of thrown together in a class assignment at high school. Their names are Sky and Holder. It focuses on heavy subjects, so I think it will be classified as more mature young adult by the time I complete it.
14. Any final words?
I butterflying love The Avett Brothers.
**Thank you SO much, Colleen, for taking the time out of your butterflyingly busy schedule to answer my questions! Everyone should check out Colleen Hoover's webpage for information on Slammed, Point of Retreat, and her new projects!**