Author Spotlight: Erin Hahn talks You'd Be Mine
I'm so excited to feature Erin Hahn on today's blog! Erin fell in love with words in college when she wrote for the campus paper, covering everything from drag shows to ice fishing and took way too much liberty with a history essay on the bubonic plague (lol!). Her debut YA novel, the witty country music-infused contemporary romance, YOU'D BE MINE (Wednesday Books/Macmillan) is out now and you can check out the synopsis below!
Erin Hahn's thrilling debut, You'd Be Mine, asks: Can the right song and the perfect summer on the road make two broken hearts whole?
Annie Mathers is America's sweetheart and heir to a country music legacy full of all the things her gran warned her about. Superstar Clay Coolidge is most definitely going to end up one of those things.
But unfortunately for Clay, if he can't convince Annie to join his summer tour, his music label is going to drop him. That's what happens when your bad-boy image turns into bad-boy reality. Annie has been avoiding the spotlight after her parents' tragic death, except on her skyrocketing YouTube channel. Clay's label wants to land Annie, and Clay has to make it happen.
Swayed by Clay's undeniable charm and good looks, Annie and her band agree to join the tour. From the start, fans want them to be more than just tour mates, and Annie and Clay can't help but wonder if the fans are right. But if there's one part of fame Annie wants nothing to do with, it's a high-profile relationship. She had a front-row seat to her parents' volatile marriage and isn't interested in repeating history. If only she could convince her heart that Clay, with his painful past and head-over-heels-inducing tenor, isn't worth the risk.
And now, here's my chat with Erin!
Hi, Erin! Welcome and congrats on You'd Be Mine. Can you tell us a little about the story and what inspired it?
Thank you so much! You’d Be Mine is a YA contemporary romance that centers around two main characters, Clay Coolidge, reigning bad boy of country music and Annie Mathers, the daughter of country music’s biggest tragedy. After too many bouts of bad press for underage shenanigans, Clay faces an ultimatum from his label: get Annie and her band to sign on to his summer tour or lose his contract. Of course, being a romance, there’s a whole lot of back stage flirting and kissing and drama, but with these two, there’s also a healthy dash of grief, dark histories and angst.
I’ve been a fan of country music my whole life, so it was an easy jump for me. I love the complexity of country songs. On the surface, they are melodic and twangy and full of good feelings, but the lyrics will often smack you upside the head in their intensity. I adore that. I wanted to emulate that, even. The romance is very loosely inspired by the late Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash. I definitely spent a lot of hours studying their performances and the way they interacted and fed off each other on stage. They were true professionals who earned A++’s in charm.
Clay and Annie are both so beautifully flawed! Were flaws in the forefront of your mind when you first started writing them, or was it the kind of thing that had to grow in drafts?
Thank you! Honestly, I didn’t see Annie and Clay that flawed when I first wrote them. In fact, it wasn’t until a CP said, “Hey, Clay’s borderline alcoholic” that I even recognized that part of him. Initially, I was like, “No he’s not!” but as I read back, I realized the truth. The same goes for Annie’s journey through her grief. I had to step outside the character to truly see how much she was hurting. Annie’s great in that she generally speaks her heart in her lyrics, but even then, it wasn’t until I read the lyrics back that I got the full impact of her emotions. It’s weird, I know. It’s like being a method actor, but a method writer? If that’s a thing. Someone recently called themselves that on twitter, so it must be. 😊 Regardless, I think it means that their flaws are always there, but I figure them out in drafts.
Do you have any tips for writers attempting to write dual-POV for the first time?
PLAYLISTS. Or if music isn’t your thing, then perhaps an extra detailed character sketch… include everything: backstory and favorites foods and catchphrases. Anything you can think of, even if it never makes it into the story. The better you know your characters, the better you will write them and the easier it will be for your reader to relate to them and also tell them apart!
But if music is your thing, I like playlists. I create individual playlists for each of my POVs so as I progress in drafting, I can go back to my playlists and jump right back into that specific character’s head space. It’s been a lifesaver!
What stage of the writing process do you find most difficult? How do you tackle it?
I’m terrible at writing the first draft. I’m not much for outlines, which means my early drafts are messy and often circular, rather than linear. It’s marvelous for creativity, but awful for logical thought organization. 😊 I tend to tackle this shortcoming by replacing outlines with character playlists and spending as much time as possible in the head of my characters prior to putting the pen to the page. The more I know the characters, the better my draft will flow, and the less time I spend patching plot holes down the line.
I'm a firm believer in the idea that every story teaches the writer something new, so what did writing You’d Be Mine teach you?
It taught me I could finish a book! I have written and completed five books previous to You’d Be Mine, but I haven’t published anything yet, obviously. So this is the first time I’ve had to revise with an agent, editor and copy editors. It’s been a level of polish that I’ve never achieved and I’m so proud of the result! This experience has taught me that writing a book isn’t only about the author. It’s a team effort. My name is on the cover, but the book I wrote alone isn’t the same as the book I wrote with Wednesday Books and that’s both humbling and invigorating.
What are you reading, watching, or otherwise currently infatuated with?
I just read Don’t Date Rosa Santos by debut Nina Moreno and adored it to pieces. It’s the perfect blend of Practical Magic and Mama Mia and everyone needs it in their life! I’ve also been comfort-binging Criminal Minds for my Reid fix and listening to a whole lot of Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan on my commute to and from work. Springtime in kindergarten is busy and when you throw a debut release into the mix, you have a very frazzled Erin. 😊 Brain soothing is the name of the game these days.
And finally, what’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned so far in your publishing career?
To curb my expectations. It’s far more fun to have your lifelong publishing dreams come true if you aren’t always upping the achievement line and chasing something new and shiny. It’s not that I think you should settle or anything like that, but if you are always comparing your journey to someone else’s you’re setting yourself up to be miserable. I try to keep the comparisons in check and enjoy the here and now as much as I can. I’ve worked real hard for this moment and I want to savor it.
Many thanks go out to Erin for taking the time to tell us more about author life and You'd Be Mine! If you liked A Star Is Born, be sure to add this swoony Southern story to your Goodreads list, or (better yet!) order your copy (WRITE) NOW from retail sites like Amazon, and Barnes & Noble, or request it at your library, or local independent bookstore!
And, as always,