[SPOILERS] Caroline Kepnes reveals the inspiration behind her best-selling book 'YOU' and what to expect from the show’s second season
Kepnes, who was heavily involved in the making of 'YOU' gives us a deeper look into what inspired her to write this crazy story as well as what to expect from season 2 of the show.
Lifetime’s ‘YOU’ took viewers by surprise with one of the best seasons of television audiences had ever seen. All-star producers Greg Berlanti (‘Riverdale’, ‘Arrow’, ‘Supergirl’) and Sera Gamble (‘The Magicians’, ‘Supernatural’) teamed up to adapt Caroline Kepnes’ best-selling novel ‘YOU’ and pure TV magic unfolded. Starring Penn Badgley, Elizabeth Lail, Shay Mitchell and John Stamos ‘YOU’ is about a charming bookstore clerk who essentially stalks his way into a beautiful aspiring writer’s heart.
Meaww spoke with the author Kepnes, who was heavily involved in the making of the series, to get a deeper look into what inspired her to write this crazy story as well as what to expect from the show’s second season. Like the female lead Beck, Kepnes is originally from Cape Cod, went to Brown and later moved to Manhattan. Before writing ‘YOU’, Kepnes dabbled in entertainment journalism and television writing but was still finding her voice. However, it wasn’t until tragedy struck and she lost her father that Kepnes was able to channel her pain and rage into what turned out to be the best-selling novel, ‘YOU’. After trying to write about the pain she was going through, she decided she needed to create something new to help process her emotions.
“My dad always had a really sick, dark sense of humor, even near the very end of his life. And that voice being gone from my life is the voice I needed to lift me out of my darkness, so that’s when the character Joe came into my head. My dad just despised social media and Joe kind of came about that way. I always had mixed feelings about how much our world was changing, and now it’s kind of a theme in everything I write.”
View this post on Instagram
November 12th is always a tough one, it’s the day my dad slipped away. Harold S. Kepnes loved so much about the world, humans & hobbits, knishes & kindness, rock & roll, the list goes on and on, like the road in one of his favorite walking songs.🖤 “Roads go ever ever on, Over rock and under tree, By caves where never sun has shone, By streams that never find the sea; Over snow by winter sown, And through the merry flowers of June, Over grass and over stone, And under mountains in the moon. Roads go ever ever on Under cloud and under star, Yet feet that wandering have gone Turn at last to home afar. Eyes that fire and sword have seen And horror in the halls of stone Look at last on meadows green And trees and hills they long have known.” -J.R.R. Tolkien
Once Kepnes had Joe’s voice in her head, she couldn’t write the book fast enough. She was able to bring life and humanity to one of the most twistedly charming characters of all time. After finishing ‘YOU’, she knew the story was far from over and she went right on to write the second book in the series ‘Hidden Bodies’, which the show’s second season will be based off of. It took just a couple of years for Hollywood to come knocking, bringing the characters she had created to life. However if you have read the book or watched the series, you know that many of these beloved character’s don’t make it out alive. While the show did have minor additions and changes to the book, producers and writers overall respected the arc of the story, even though there were times when Kepnes wished they didn’t.
“When the casting was happening with the first book, the cast was so great I was like, ‘these actors are so amazing, maybe they don’t die!’ Then I had to tell myself, ‘Girl, you wrote this book, this is the story!’ It’s one thing when its just pages and you can keep them alive in your mind but this is so different because it was a jackpot situation. The actors are all so ridiculously talented and that it was this double edge sword of writing stories where people die.”
One of the biggest changes that the series made was with the character of Candace, Joe’s ex whom the audience believed to be dead until that shocking final moment of the first season. A risky move that would potentially anger book readers, Kepnes was happy to take that audience by surprise, making it a more fun and shocking experience for them.
View this post on Instagram
“The show definitely switched things up with the character of Candace. For the world of the show, the change that they made I think worked very well. I also think that if you haven’t read the book you will be hooked, and if you have read the book you know what happens…but you don’t. I personally love that territory where people have read the books a bunch of times but still are going into it thinking, ‘wait, what is happening?’ That is my favorite kind of adaptation.”
After working on the show, Kepnes was inspired to write the third book in the series, which is something that fans will be absolutely thrilled about. However before fans find out where the third installment will take them, they have the second season of ‘YOU’ to look forward to, which Kepnes told us more about.
“Joe moves to LA and he meets a girl named Love, who is a pretty special creature, but the problem is she has a twin brother named Forty. He’s a pretty special creature as well but in a terrible way. So Joe has found someone new, but she has this family and they are a nightmare. Also, before he was dealing with east coast elitism and now he is dealing with another form of elitism- Hollywood. The producers and writers have some great plans for the second season of the show. I can’t say much more but the smile on my face was pretty big when they told me what was in store for the first episode.”
View this post on Instagram
#Repost #supermarketsweep @mrsxredhood ・・・ Okay. So, I've come to a point in my life where one particular story has mentally effected me and I'm feeling as addictive as Joe Goldberg... Let me tell you a little story... I was strolling in my local supermarket, looking at the books that they had on sale and there were only 10 books and I needed to decide which one to pick up. I had no knowledge of recognizability of any of the books up on sale so I needed to surprise myself. Then I saw it. In big, red writing: 'YOU'. I had read the blurb, and I instantly was interested and so I purchased it. At this moment in time, I had never realized how damn lucky I was to have found that book! YOU by @carolinekepnes is by far the best novel I have ever read. To make my struggles even worse, I read the sequel and I. CANNOT. GET. OVER. THE. ENDING. As a result to this, I cannot pick up and read a different book. Caroline Kepnes, I praise you for the wonderful art you have made through book writing. But I also blame you for the suffering I have been in for months now because I literally CANNOT GET OVER THE DAMNING STORY. I love you, I hope you know that! I had to literally write: READ AGAIN AT YOUR OWN RISK in Hidden Bodies because I know how addictive and emotional it was reading it. You're a genius, Caroline! I AM ITCHING TO RE-READ IT ALL AGAIN. P.S. sorry for the essay!😭👌
Even though the story, in a way, glamorizes this terrible, violent man, Kepnes wants to make sure that audiences remember that not all love stories are happy or healthy. People often fantasize about an all-consuming fairytale love, but in reality, that can often be the most dangerous kind. “You say that you want someone who can’t live without you, but think about that, if they can’t live without you then you could be dead.”