Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Cody Alan
Cody Alan is ready to start his next chapter — as an author.
The CMT host will release his first book, Hear's the Thing: Lessons on Listening, Life and Love, on Oct. 19, and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look at its cover.
A longtime staple at CMT and an iHeartRadio host, Alan has interviewed everyone from Loretta Lynn and Willie Nelson to Carrie Underwood and Keith Urban, who actually wrote the book's foreward.
Congrats! Why did you want to write a book?
Looking back at the struggles leading up to coming out made me realize that I could help people in their journey because of my journey. And I also thought that we live in a noisy world and people are not taking the time to listen to each other. And if we could listen better to one another and to ourselves that this could make us better.
Larry King once said to me, "I never learned anything while I was talking," which I thought was a great quote. And that is exactly the theme of the book, which is listening to each other, being present in the moment, laser-focusing on the person that you're talking to and learning from what they have to say, and finally, ultimately, listening to ourselves, our own heart and intuition that that listening could also make us happier. All those things sort of led me to write the book.
Michael Gomez Cody Alan, Hear's the Thing
Was this a pandemic project for you?
I'm pretty much a glass-half-full guy most of the time. So the pandemic was a positive in some respects for me because it allowed me the time to really finish the ideas and create the theme and go back and recall some of the stories and feel some of the things that I had sensed since 2017, when I first came out, with some of these things I've learned. So yeah, I started before the pandemic, and then the pandemic really allowed me to delve into it more.
The past year and a half has given people a lot of time to reflect. Did you have any personal breakthroughs while you were writing the book?
Yeah, actually quite a few. It was very therapeutic, honestly; I did a lot of reflecting back over the years on the many adventures in my life from country music interviews to things I've done on the road. And to obviously more personal moments like coming out. And so I was able to really write those things down and weave them into a cohesive narrative over the past year. So I've learned a lot about myself through all that, I mean including, I feel like, the effect that my journey could have on others. You know, you lead into coming out and think, okay, frankly, it was about me. I needed to make that move because I was not in a good place. And I knew that that struggle was being gay all those years and keeping secrets. As this happy-go-lucky guy on television, to have the chance to come home and not be that guy and realize I was sort of faking it.
I needed to find that 100 percent of me that was missing. And so that realization of knowing that that journey of coming to that moment and then what I learned since could help others really pushed me to write the book and to delve into more of what I have learned. It's not just about coming out, by the way, it's all the hard work it takes to do what I do. I mean, we're helping, I think, readers to maybe learn things that they could do to improve themselves by hearing themselves and the people around them more clearly. That's obviously one of the themes of the book is listening and what I've learned by listening to others and to myself.
Courtesy CMT Cody Alan & Blake Shelton
You came out publicly in a PEOPLE interview four years ago. How has your life changed since then?
I knew I had support from my family, from my work friends and CMT and even from the industry. I knew that so many of the people that loved me over the years would still love me afterwards, but you just don't really know how it will change or what will happen and whether the negative will outweigh the positive or not. I found that the response was overwhelmingly positive and people really came forward, who I didn't expect, and said nice things about that moment. And I guess all that positive energy from stars and from the industry people. But I was surprised the fans also reached out in an overwhelmingly positive way too. And I share a lot of their stories in the book where just people who've written to me or who I, in some way, inspired who are gay and love country music. And there are a lot of us out there. It's everybody, a lot of different kinds of people who love country music.
I'm in a really good place right now in my life. Obviously writing this book has really helped because I've been able to do a little introspection on who I am, what I stand for, where I want to go next with my life. And I'm finally comfortable in my own skin in a 100% authentic, true way. And I don't hesitate on being me anymore.
Cody Alan & Carrie Underwood
How did coming out better your relationships with your family?
Once you start your journey of truth, you begin to speak to people who you trust and love and who love you and it's liberating. It frees you. And I knew that right from the get-go. I talk about telling my ex-wife about myself, in full, and how incredibly difficult that conversation was. And yet the love that followed between us that still exists, the co-parenting that we have done since and the awesome, real, modern family we've been able to create after that moment.
My kids took it a lot better than I expected. You don't know how that's going to go, when you go into a deep conversation like that with your kids. And yet there was a total acceptance and "I love you" because it's a different generation. They see things differently and they were incredibly loving and accepting. And since then, I think they love the dad now more than they loved the dad before, because the dad now is a lot happier and he's a lot more real. And they know they can be real and open and honest and authentic themselves. And that's, again, a freeing thing. That's the wonderful thing.
Michael Loccisano/Getty Images For CMT Cody Alan and Trea Smith
And how has your relationship with your fiancé, Trea, grown and evolved since you came out publicly?
Well, it's grown quite a bit. It's interesting because, when we first got engaged, and even before I came out being with him, I knew I loved him then, but it's something about even the last year, with the pandemic. I just feel like I love him more now. And I think there's a lot of people who feel one way or the other after the pandemic, because we've spent so much time with our significant others. I do feel like our relationship has grown
Over the years, you've interviewed so many celebrities. What can we expect in the book from those interactions?
There's a ton of those, everybody from, Garth to Taylor Swift. I have a great story with Ellen DeGeneres, when I met her, in the book, as well as Blake Shelton, Luke Bryan, all these guys —there's a lot of those never really completely shared before moments that are sort of unexpected and very real in the book.