Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Colleen Hoover, Griffin Peterson Turn Novel Into Musical Experience

(from usatoday.com
by Vilma Gonzalez)

(Photo: Atria Books)

Every now and then a book comes along that just leaves me breathless. Reveling in the high of a book so perfectly done that I feel like calling everyone on my phone list and demanding that they read it so we can talk about it endlessly, tossing ohmygods and canyoubelievethats all over the place. This was that book. Maybe Someday by Colleen Hoover is more than an epic romance. The whole story comes alive with music. Yes! This book has an accompanying soundtrack! The duo of No. 1 New York Times and USA TODAY best-selling author Colleen Hoover and singer/songwriter Griffin Peterson have created an unforgettable and innovative experience, allowing the reader to feel the story on more than one dimension.

"Are you in the mood to make beautiful music together?"


Sydney Blake, our female protagonist, has a good life. A content life. Solid … or so she thinks. When she discovers her boyfriend and her roommate are having an affair (on her birthday no less!), she unexpectedly finds herself staying at the apartment of her neighbor, Ridge. She had never met Ridge until that moment, but she had heard him. Every night he played his guitar across the courtyard of their apartment complex, the sounds curling in the wind, reaching her and inspiring her to pour lyrics down on paper. Soon enough, they find themselves creating music together as a connection also begins to build between them. True to the romance stories we love, however, there are circumstances that keep them apart and they must work to bury the emotions that surge.

"Despite how hard we tried to fight it, all of those things happened between us because our feelings for each other are becoming so much stronger than our desire. Desire is easy to fight. Especially when the only weapon desire possesses is attraction. It's not so easy when you're trying to win a war against the heart."

It's a riveting push-and-pull that had me wondering how it all would end. But most of all, it sparked a sense of intimacy and magic as the story and the songs fused together to create a one-of-a-kind interactive experience … each moment made more powerful by the lyrics that flowed across the pages. Colleen and Griffin discuss this project further in this video:

Maybe Someday

Fate intervened with the way this duo came together in the first place. When the novel Losing Hope (companion to Hopeless) was coming together, Colleen's fans flooded her with messages that they had found their Holder (the book's main character) in an American Idol participant in season 12. That participant was Griffin Peterson, who came to grace the cover of the book upon its release. Months later when Colleen began writing Maybe Someday and ran into some trouble with the music she'd planned on using, she approached Griffin about the project and soon after, he began writing songs specifically for the book. The album, aptly titled Maybe Someday, features eight complete tracks.


Readers will be able to click on the song that accompanies the scene, opening up the browser on their e-readers to listen to the music simultaneously as they read. For those with paperbacks, readers can scan a QR code with their phone, allowing them to listen to the song directly, or they can visit the Maybe Someday website to access the soundtrack.

Maybe Someday, published by Atria Books, releases today (March 18).


Vilma: Colleen, what inspired the concept of Maybe Someday?

Colleen: When I published my first novel, Slammed, I included lyrics at the beginning of each chapter from one of my favorite bands, The Avett Brothers. The overwhelmingly positive response from readers to those lyrics really surprised me. I'm very passionate about music and was excited to see that the majority of readers loved the inclusion of lyrics.

After seeing this reaction, I got the idea to take it a step further and have the characters actually create the lyrics within a book. With the advancement in e-reading technology, I was curious if it were possible for readers to be able to hear the actual songs while reading the book. I contacted Amazon and discussed the idea with their Kindle team and they were very enthusiastic about it.

Once all my questions were answered and I had the information I needed to make it happen, I began writing the book.

Vilma: Griffin, what did you think when Colleen first approached you? Were you all in immediately or did you have any doubts?

Griffin: This project was something Colleen was already working on when we came together for her other novel Losing Hope. I thought the idea was very innovative, but at the time I wasn't a part of it. She was already in the process of using other musicians' songs, so I was excited to see how the inclusion of a soundtrack with a book would be received.

"Losing Hope" by Colleen Hoover.(Photo: Atria Books)

We talked about the project occasionally and she would give me updates on how it was going, but it wasn't until late September of last year that she contacted me to see if I could help. She had reached a roadblock with the music she was planning to use and asked if I would be willing to help out and be a part of it. Since I was already familiar with and enthusiastic about the project, I was more than willing to be a part of it.

Of course I had doubts because Colleen and I didn't know each other very well at the time and this kind of collaboration takes a lot of trust and cooperation. Writing music for myself is one thing, but writing music to portray feelings and circumstances of two fictional characters was definitely something I had never done before.

Luckily, it turns out that Colleen and I had the same vision for this project and eerily similar work ethics, so it couldn't have made for a better experience.

Vilma: How long did the project take from concept to completion?

Colleen: I began plotting the book back in January, 2013. The manuscript was due Sept. 30th, So I had nine months from start to completion. Things were going well until I hit a legal roadblock with the music I had planned to use. Unfortunately, this was in early September, so this left me with no music and less than two weeks to turn everything in. At the time, I was devastated because I knew there was no way I would be able to find a musician who had lyrics I could use and turn around and rewrite the book to fit those lyrics. The only person I could think of who could possibly help was Griffin. I knew he had the drive and the talent ... I was just hoping he had the time.

When I approached him about it, he was very enthusiastic about the idea. He also had a few songs he had written but had yet to release, so he sent those songs to me to see if any of them would work. While listening to the first few songs he sent, I was astounded by how perfectly they fit the story. He would change a word or a couple of lines in the lyrics to fit the story and I would change a few paragraphs in the story to fit the song. The way it all worked out was very serendipitous.

When the manuscript was due, we still had a few scenes in the book that needed songs, so I turned the manuscript in with filler lyrics. I told my publishers I would need more time to get them the final songs in order to give Griffin more time to finish writing and recording them in studio.

On my birthday in December, he sent me all eight songs and the project was complete. All in all, it took about a year from start to finish. There were definitely moments I thought I had gotten in over my head and that I would have to scrap the whole project altogether. However, after Griffin stepped in to help, everything worked out with ease. We are both so excited and proud of the final product because we know how much work it took us to get here.

Vilma: Griffin, you are new to the book community, but it seems that fans have completely embraced you over the course of the past year. What has been your experience?

Griffin: This entire journey has been incredible. I certainly had no idea that my music would lead to me being on the cover of a novel, but that experience in turn led to my involvement with Maybe Someday, so I'm very grateful for that.

The response to my music has definitely been humbling and I'm not taking a single second of this for granted.

Vilma: Colleen, what can your readers expect with Maybe Someday and what's coming next from you?

Colleen: I've just completed and submitted my seventh novel, Ugly Love, which releases Aug. 5 of this year. I'm excited for that one as well, although it's the first of my books to ever make me shed a tear while writing it.

As far as what readers can expect with Maybe Someday, I'm not the type of writer who writes to educate or inform my readers. I simply write to entertain them. My only hope for Maybe Someday is that people enjoy Sydney and Ridge's journey as much as Griffin and I enjoyed creating it.

To learn more about Maybe Someday, visit the project's website. To learn more about Colleen, visit colleenhoover.com, and Griffin, visit www.griffinpeterson.com.

Vilma Gonzalez is a blogger, reader, marketer, wife and mom. She has an insatiable appetite for happily ever afters and a deep love of the written word. She is also determined to keep the promise she made to her 16-year-old self to finish writing a book before she dies. You can find more about her and read full reviews at Vilma's Book Blog. Please e-mail Vilma at loveinsuspense@gmail.com about content related to this column. Due to the volume of mail, e-mails may not be answered personally, but all will be read.

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