Lemonade. It’s a perfect summertime drink, the staple of kids’ front-yard stands everywhere and, for one Wayland man, a key ingredient in his recipe for literary success.
In 2007, Mark Peter Hughes’ book, “Lemonade Mouth,” hit bookstores – and the Hughes family hit the road in a billboard of a car, traveling the country to spread the word about a misfit group of high school freshmen who formed a band called Lemonade Mouth.
Now, five years and one Disney Channel movie later, Hughes still drives the zany “Lemonade Mouth” branded car around Wayland and talks fondly of the summer he spent driving across the country with his wife, Karen, and their three kids, Lucy, Evan and Zoe.
“The family’s been at the center of it,” Hughes said. “I hoped it would get published and do well, but what I would say is the experience of all my books, but especially the ‘Lemonade Mouth’ books, has from the beginning been an experience as a family.”
Also during these past five years, Hughes has written the sequel. “Lemonade Mouth Puckers Up” will arrive in stores on Nov. 13, with a special Book Release Party on Nov. 16 at Barnes & Noble in Framingham.
“I knew exactly where I wanted the first book to end and the second book to begin and to end,” Hughes said, adding that if he writes a third for the series, it will likely be the last.
Hughes explained that “Lemonade Mouth Puckers Up” picks up exactly where the first book left off. From there it expands the story of the first book – an outsider group of high school students who form a band and “take risks to do what’s right in a way that people generally don’t” – to the realm outside the high school.
“If there is [an overarching goal] … I think it’s really about people speaking up for themselves and realizing the power of many,” Hughes said. “Lots of determined people can have an impact and change the world for the better. In their own very different ways, with their own very different stories, they are finding ways to rebel against things that aren’t right.”
Hughes, a musician himself, said the story of “Lemonade Mouth” grew out of the characters themselves. Those characters each in turn tell part of the “Lemonade Mouth” story, which means Hughes had to carefully develop each individual’s personality and then master writing in each of the voices.
He explained that one of the characters wrote his part of the first book as a paper for class – that same student wrote his sections of the second book in the form of a screenplay. The choice of a screenplay format, Hughes said, developed from the time he spent working on the Disney Channel movie, which was a “great thing,” but not his initial goal.
“The movie was definitely frosting,” Hughes said, adding that there doesn’t appear to be plans for a second movie at this time. “If you take a look at the whole experience of writing, there’s just so much more time sitting down, alone at the laptop, than there is the other side of it, the glory.
“If I had done it for that experience, I would have been a fool,” he continued. “The odds were very small and it’s not what lasts anyway, but I’m really proud of the impact it had and it still has.”
Hughes and his family enjoyed the movie experience – complete with a red carpet premiere at Wayland Middle School – but he said writing is his passion. In fact, it has been since he was a child, though much has changed since those childhood writings that today make him “laugh and cringe.”
“I consider myself to be very lucky that I can do what I love to do,” said Hughes. “I think that not everybody gets to do that, so I’m very lucky.”
“Lemonade Mouth Puckers Up” will debut in bookstores on Nov. 13. The Book Release Party, featuring the Wayland Middle School band and possibly other local bands, will take place at Barnes and Noble on Friday, Nov. 16.
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