Colleen Hoover talks about the inspiration behind her best-selling 2016 romance novel, It Ends With Us, and it’s a lot more personal than readers might have realized.
Last week Book Bonanza — Hoover’s annual fundraising book festival in Texas, where readers can meet and greet their favorite authors — the reigning Queen of BookTok sat down with Today’s Jenna Bush Hager and revealed some of the backstories. She also addressed the slight rewrite of the film adaptation that led to fans disapproving of the casting of Blake Lively and Justin Baldoni.
Loosely based on the life of Hoover’s mother, the story centers on Lily, a recent college grad who was raised with an abusive father.
She moves to the city, falls in love with the abusive neurosurgeon Ryle, and repeats the toxic love patterns she observed as a child.
Her first love, Atlas – played by Brandon Sklenar – resurfaces and causes a stir. But ultimately, Lily must decide the course of her life.
“My mom and dad divorced when I was two years old and one of my earliest memories was of him throwing a TV at her.” Hoover told Hager during her interview. “She was able to get out of this relationship. And from there, all I remember is growing up with a mother who was so strong and independent.”
Hoover said readers seemed to identify with “It Ends With Us,” and she found it heartwarming that her mother’s story gave other women the strength to get out of dangerous situations.
Hoover was over the moon about being cast as Lively as Lily and Baldoni as Ryle, but fans seemed stunned when they caught wind – given that both actors are a decade older than their novel counterparts. But Hoover said she originally wrote the characters too young, and casting Lively and Baldoni helped her fix the mistake.
“As authors, we make mistakes,” she said to Hager. “The aging of the characters was my fault.”
When she was hired to write It Ends With Us, the romance writer said the new adult genre centered around college-aged characters was particularly popular, but that when writing characters she had established careers didn’t calculate correctly. “There are no 28-year-old neurosurgeons, you [have to] Go to school for 15 years!” she said.
“And to fix what I screwed up in the book, we aged the characters a bit.”
The film adaptation also stars Jenny Slate and Hasan Minhaj. Baldoni is directing and Lively will be co-producing with Hoover, Baldoni, Steve Sarowitz and Andrew Calof. Christy Hall wrote the screenplay based on Hoover’s bestseller. A release date has not been announced.
Hoover became a best-selling sensation in 2012 when she self-published the book “Slammed” through Amazon’s self-publishing program so her grandmother could read one of her stories. Through word of mouth, “Slammed” became an unlikely hit and landed on the New York Times bestseller list. Hoover says she was poor at the time and lived in a single-wide trailer.
“We didn’t have a front door handle, but we led a great life,” she told Hager. “We just had a bit of financial problems.”
Hoover’s books are a staple on bestseller lists, but It Ends With Us is her most successful, with over a billion tags on TikTok, over a million reviews on Goodreads, and the upcoming film adaptation.