About Me

Saturday, 4 April 2015

School Visit with Beth Reekles

Meet Beth Reekles: one of the world's sixteen most influential teenagers, according to Time Magazine.
As part of World Book Day celebrations, Write For Real invited her to The Chase School to share her writing journey.
First, Beth was interviewed by three students in the school library. After a very nice lunch provided by the school canteen (in a basket no less), Beth had a double workshop session in the lecture theatre, each with around fifty year ten students.
 Mrs Levez and Beth Reekles
Beth told the students (and some very envious teachers!) about her rise to author success at the tender age of fifteen, where she used to tap out romances on her second-hand lap-top in revision breaks.The Welsh high school student was looking for something to read other than stories about vampires and werewolves when she decided to write her own teen fiction book. Wattpad provided the platform for real readers to give her feedback for her growing story, The Kissing Booth, set in America. To her astonishment, over a few months her readers grew from a couple into 19 million views!
She started getting over 500 e mails a day from fans across the globe, desperate to read the next episode of her book. Her success caught the attention of Random House Children’s Publishers U.K. and Beth, now 19, scored a three-book deal with U.S. Random House and has since appeared on the Today show.

Beth Reekles is interviewed by students

Beth shares her writing journey

The Interview

Was it difficult to get noticed on Wattpad?
It was slow at first, but I made sure that each episode ended on a horrid cliff-hanger. After a few months I woke up and found 500 e mails in my inbox!
Tell us more about Wattpad.
At first I had zero confidence as a writer, but Wattpad is great for getting feedback on your writing. I posted anonymously and was surprised and happy to find that people seemed to like what they read. It gave me so much confidence, I started telling people about my writing.
What are your favourite YA books?
I love Solitaire by Alice Oseman and I also love On The Fence by Kasie West. The characters in them are so cute.
If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be?
A foot-stool (definitely not a chair!)
What was the process after your publisher contract?
After I got an e mail from Random House inviting me to London, I had to pinch myself to stop freaking out! My Dad and I went to their offices and I was offered a three book deal there and then. It usually takes about eighteen months for a book from signing the contract to publication, but in my case it took only eight weeks to get the e book of The Kissing Booth out by Boxing Day.
How much chopping and changing did you have to do with the edits?
Well, I had already edited the book myself, but the "fluffy cute" chapters got taken out.
Did you let your family and friends read your book?
No! Not until it was published. My family used to see me tapping away on the lap-top and say "what are you doing?" They all thought it was just a weird little hobby.
Are you a dog or a cat person?
Dogs. I dog-sit for my auntie.
Your passion has now become a business. How do you keep that initial enjoyment?
I try not to think of it as work - unless there's a stressy dead-line. Also, there's enough stress from uni work (Beth is currently reading Physics at Exeter University) so writing for me is down-time.
Was it a big step uploading your first story onto Wattpad?
Yes, it was absolutely terrifying! It was just a matter of copy-paste-click, but how did I know if someone would like it? I remember pressing screen refresh loads of times and being really pleased when I saw I had three followers!
Should more people use Wattpad?
Yes, definitely. 99.9% of the writing community is incredibly positive - really encouraging and supportive.
Has negative feedback ever upset you?
Whenever there's a "troll", other readers jump in and stop. It's easy to ignore, because there's so much positive feedback.
How do you manage to keep your characters interesting?
I try to give them little quirks and characteristics, but I never base them directly on people I know. I advise you to look at online character profile question-aids, for example: is my character superstitious?
Was it daunting when you met your editor?
Not at all. They were lovely and sweet and very welcoming. I knew I was in the right place when I saw a giant Tardis cut-out in the entrance to the Random House offices. There were also piles of YA books, and they said I could take as many as I wanted, so I was happy!
What age-group are your books aimed at?
Twelve to thirteen plus.
Is there any of yourself in any of your characters?
I think there's a bit of me in all of them. A good example is in Rolling Dice, my second book, which features a physics nerd!
Finally, do you have any advice that you can give to aspiring young writers?
My advice is always this: "Write what you read."
Our huge thanks to Beth Reekles, for a very inspiring school visit.