It takes courage to ground a book in your family’s private story, especially one involving an abusive relationship. But that’s what Colleen Hoover decided to do when she took a detour from her usual contemporary romance path and wrote It Ends with Us (Atria).

“I was inspired by my mother to write it,” Hoover says. “The book was based on her relationship with my father; she divorced him when I was about two years old. The author’s note at the end explains how the story related to my parents. I fashioned the main characters, Lily and Ryle, after them, and the first time he hits her is actually what happened between my parents.”

Although the book was easy to write on one level, Hoover says that it was difficult emotionally because she knew her mother would read it. “She called after she finished it,” Hoover says. “She was crying and couldn’t even talk. So she texted me and said that for 35 years she wondered if she had made the right choice by leaving him. And this book solidified that [decision].

“I hope readers take away that people deserve respect in relationships,” Hoover continues. “Not just women, but everyone.”

Hoover wasn’t sure what to expect from her fans. “I was very nervous because it was a departure from what I usually write,” she says. “But I had the biggest response that I’ve ever had to any book. It’s changed lives. Women have given this to friends who needed it. I’ve always said I write to entertain, I don’t write to educate or inform. But it’s something else when you write a book, and it actually does have an impact on people in a positive way.”

Hoover has made a positive impact in other ways. Two years ago she founded the Bookworm Box, a subscription service that mails members two signed books a month and donates all profits to 501(c)3 organizations. “I work with publishers and authors to get the novels donated every month. We send out about 2,000 packages monthly—that’s 4,000 signed novels I have to organize every month,” Hoover says. To date the Bookworm Box has donated $1 million to charities.

Between her charity work and taking care of her three sons, Hoover still finds time to write, usually after everyone is in bed. “I stay up until three in the morning, and then stay in bed until about nine or 10,” she says.

Hoover’s next book, Without Merit (Atria), is scheduled to come out this fall. It is another departure for her. The main character is a 17-year-old high school student named Merit. For Hoover, it’s closer to YA because the book is more about family, with romance in the background.

Today, 12:15–1:15 p.m. Colleen Hoover joins authors Kami Garcia and Christina Lauren for the panel “Romance and New Adult Fiction,” in Room 1E16.

Today, 1:30–2:30 p.m. Hoover will sign in the Autographing Area.