Thank you to Boston.com for the article.
When he was in high school, Mark Peter Hughes finished in the top four of a young adult fiction contest whose winner would get a book published. Though he did not win, he was invited to submit another draft. He never followed up.
â€œI was a dumb kid,â€™â€™ he said.
Two decades later he entered another contest for young adult fiction. Of more than 500 entries, his made the top five, and again he was invited to keep working on it. Older and wiser, he seized the moment. He turned a backyard shed into a writing room, and in 2005 Random House published his first novel, â€œI Am the Wallpaper.â€™â€™ In 2007 it published his second, â€œLemonade Mouth.â€™â€™
That second book is now a movie airing on the Disney Channel, and Hughes, 44, no longer toils in obscurity. Touted as the next â€œHigh School Musical,â€™â€™ â€œLemonade Mouthâ€™â€™ â€” the story of five high school misfits who meet in detention, form a band, and challenge their cliquey classmates â€” premiered last Friday as the most-watched original cable movie of 2011. It airs again tonight.
Though the novel itself did not become an immediate hit, Hughes did what he could to make sure it got noticed. In the summer of 2007 he and his wife, Karen, loaded their three children into their old minivan with the words â€œLemonade Mouthâ€™â€™ plastered across its sides and hood. The family left their home in Wayland and drove 13,000 miles through 38 states, stopping at 60 bookstores to sell and sign copies.
Four years later, the book is getting more exposure than Hughes ever imagined possible.
â€œIt does feel like a dream,â€™â€™ he said. â€œI feel like itâ€™s absurdly wonderful.â€™â€™
After the movie premiered, its soundtrack shot to No. 1 on iTunes. Disney aired the movie again Sunday and plans to run it regularly, no doubt with the success of â€œHigh School Musicalâ€™â€™ in mind.
â€œLike with â€˜High School Musical,â€™ we are seeing kids drive the momentum, and in two telecasts the movie reached over 13 million viewers,â€™â€™ said Brenda Kelly Grant, a Disney spokeswoman. â€œLike with â€˜High School Musical,â€™ the consumer will tell us if they want extensions of â€˜Lemonade Mouth,â€™ whether thatâ€™s the soundtrack, DVD, or anything more.â€™â€™
Disney, she said, was drawn to the novel because its characters appeal to both boys and girls and because of its message of empowerment. â€œOur focus is on telling relatable, relevant stories that connect to a generation of kids and their parents, too,â€™â€™ Grant said.