Tell us about your writing career on Wattpad so far.
I started writing on Wattpad in 2011, which seems strange, because I can still remember it so well. I came to Wattpad when I was still finding my feet as a writer. My book Sin, which was my first complete novel, had done well elsewhere and I was searching for another outlet. Wattpad became that.
Initially, I posted the prologue to Sin. Prior to this story, I was only writing (lots of) short stories. When I wrote Sin, the main character had such a voice, the story continued - but was, itself, a short story. When I realised it didn't end there, the prologue was born. I was approached by Wattpad to serialise the rest of the book. I had never thought of doing this myself, so I agreed.
Around this time, Wattpad started and invited me to their Writers' Program, which was the precursor to Wattpad Stars, now the Creators Program. Suddenly, I was a writer who was beginning to believe I might not be too bad at my craft. There had been so many detractors before this, it felt amazing. Validation! It gave me the confidence to continue, and ideas and stories flowed.
I was then asked to work on a brand partnership, one of the first Wattpad was taking part in. There's more of that below, but WOW! Since then, I've worked with other brands, visited the amazing Wattpad offices, made so many wonderful friends, found my writing's home… And found me.
What is one important thing for readers and other writers to know about you?
There are parts of me in many of my characters, particularly the main characters. I think this is one of the reasons I have been able to write so much. In a way, I am putting myself onto the page, so living (and dying) vicariously through the stories. I didn't really understand the typical advice of 'write what you know' for a long time. What do I know? I live a normal life in a normal town. Nothing exciting. Then came Sin, my 'dark half', and all that changed.
Also (I know this is a second thing), I'm a 'pantser'. I don't outline my stories. I have tried, and do occasionally write notes on the characters or possible future situations, but these are minimal. I like to go where the story takes me.
What was the first brand partnership you participated in? Tell us about receiving that initial invite.
This is where my heart still races to this day. I received an email from Wattpad in June of 2014.
The email asked if I'd like to work on a campaign for the new movie The Purge: Anarchy. I had seen the first film and loved it, so couldn't help but be shocked. This was a major movie! Surely, I wasn't at the level to do it justice! Still, there was no way I was going to say no. I replied, saying of course, I would love to, not entirely convinced I'd end up really being allowed to. I then received a response telling me exactly what was required. And, yes, it was for me!
It's safe to say, I feel that was a defining moment for me as a writer. The first of many.
What other brand partnerships have you worked on since?
Since that wondrous campaign, where I wrote a story called Mr. Composure which developed an incredible community following on Wattpad, I've been able to do so much more. Each one feels like a dream.
My next campaign was for the sequel to the brilliant horror film Sinister. This was another movie I'd enjoyed and, for this, I had a chilling conversation with my young daughter (about her imaginary friends) that kicked off the story.
Since then, I've been lucky enough to work on stories for movies such as The Boy, Incarnate and A Quiet Place (yes, A Quiet Place!), plus non-fiction pieces for Goosebumps and DC Vertigo Comics! My most recent brand opportunity was for the Amazon Prime series 'Panic!'.
Have you had any unique brand partnership experiences, outside of writing stories on Wattpad?
I'm a huge Stephen King fan. He's one of my favourite authors and has created a number of iconic characters. None, in my opinion, have gained popularity or ingrained themselves into pop culture more than Pennywise, the Dancing Clown from IT. The book is excellent and the four part 90s TV film based on it was great.
When I found out they were making a new film, I was so excited.
One of the Wattpad staff knew I was a King fan. I'd written a story called To Kill A King, where 'I' got to meet my writing idol. At the time, Wattpad had an app called Tap, where you had stories that read like text message conversations. I was lucky enough to be one of the first writers invited to produce content for the platform. But what does this have to do with Stephen King and IT?
Eek!!! I… gulp… was asked to write a companion story for the release of the movie…!!!
I mean… wow. It felt as if, crazy as it might sound, I was almost writing with the King himself! I felt as if I was floating and, if you know Pennywise at all, you'll know we all float down here!
Describe your most exciting opportunity to date with Wattpad Brand Partnerships.
You like your difficult questions, don't you? Each opportunity has been a blessing, and all have been exciting, particularly The Purge: Anarchy and IT. The coolest, though, has to be the story I wrote for the movie Incarnate. There were two parts to this. The first was that the campaign would consist of a contest. I would write the first four parts, and other writers were invited to write the finale. The amazing Kelly Anne Blount was the winner and the result was Tender Walks the Demon. The second part, and this is the best bit, was that it was going to be produced as a graphic novel!
I've read various graphic novels throughout the years. When I was younger, I was really into Marvel and 2000AD comics. To have something I'd written turned into a graphic novel was so beyond words! The artwork was stunning and the experience was definitely one for the books.
How have these exclusive writing opportunities helped your career?
One thing that working on these wonderful opportunities has done is brought my name to many more readers. To work with a brand is to showcase your work to people who might never see it otherwise. This isn't just related to readers, either. At one point, I was being requested by the brands themselves!
More importantly, for me, was that they gave (and still give) me the trust in myself to continue writing. I've struggled with confidence so much in the past, so having these opportunities is very affirming and validating. To have my name associated with companies such as Warner Brothers, Goosebumps, and Blumhouse is… More than I ever expected.
Can you share one piece of advice with your fellow creators?
At the beginning of this Q&A, I mentioned that there's a great deal of me in the characters I write. I would definitely recommend doing this. You know yourself intimately, and we are all multi-faceted creations. We're made up of good and bad, and any aspect of that adds weight and realism to a character. Doing so can even be therapeutic. Stresses, arguments, illnesses and grief can all make their way into the lives of my characters, even if it's not actually mentioned. It can be an incentive or a driving force. It can be a silly little trait that makes you smile. It will help you identify with the character and, hopefully, enable readers to, too.