Interviews with Teen Wattpad Writers from the Common Room Anthology

We wrote books! We got agents! We sold books! Yay!

Um, now what?

That’s how the Freshman Fifteens felt for most of 2013 when we first formed our debut group. And then came 2014. The “now what?” became “oh, that and that and that and THAT” as we navigated our first forays into the publishing world. Working with agents, editors, cover designers, copyeditors, marketing, and sales departments opened our eyes to all that goes into getting one little book out into the world.

We wanted to not just share this experience with up-and-coming writers; we wanted to GIVE them this experience. So we did. We organized a contest with the online platform of Wattpad exclusively for teen writers.

They pitched us their short stories, we read through the “slush pile” of amazing ideas, and we picked one writer to mentor through the process of having a story published (picking just one was HARD; so much talent).

We put this group of writers through the paces, and they learned, just like we did, what it’s like to write a story, go through editorial revisions (multiple rounds), and balance it all to end up with the very best version possible of their work.

The complete COMMON ROOM anthology, written by Wattpad teen writers and edited by the Freshman Fifteens, will be released on Wattpad on January 27, 2015.

Before you read their fantastic stories, we wanted to introduce you to these authors. We’ll be highlighting five of our COMMON ROOM authors for the next three weeks in the lead-up to the January 27 anthology release.

Get to know them and their other work on Wattpad and be sure to show your support and read COMMON ROOM on January 27!

Screen Shot 2015-01-08 at 5.29.11 PMMorgan Lloyd, Author of A POISONED PEAR (Wattpad username: Arminius)

Mentor: Chandler Baker, author of ALIVE, releasing June 9, 2015, from Disney-Hyperion

About me:

I’m Morgan, alias Arminius on Wattpad, and I am nothing more than a wanderer on the waysides of life. I’m a drummer, a dreamer, an artist, a runner, an aspirant to publication someday, and a pretty chill dude all around.

How did you get into to writing?

This is going to sound cheesy, but I’ve been into writing for as long as I can remember. Most of my earliest stories, like around age four, were dictated to my mom and revolved around Thomas the Tank Engine, but I consider that writing. Or at least storytelling, which is more or less the same thing. But I began to actually think about writing around fourth grade, which progressed into actually writing around seventh grade. So the short answer is seventh grade.

What do you like to write best?

I traditionally have loved to write fantasy, and I still do. I have a passion for mythology, so I tend to write stories based off myths or folklore. It used to be I just would have answered fantasy to that question, but I’ve just discovered historical fiction and I’ve thrown around ideas for a few historical stories. I’ve written a few realistic fiction stories, too, but the inspiration usually seems to strike me in fantastical/historical ways. Science fiction is something I’ve always wanted to write, but now I don’t think that’ll happen. I’m not ruling out any genre yet, though.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

This may be an unpopular opinion of sorts, but I’d like to see first and foremost more believable characterization in young adult books. That means less token romances, less angst for the sake of angst (apparently there are no therapists in the young adult world), less unreasonable anger. I’m not against romance or depression when it’s done well, and it certainly can be, but I feel that a lot of young adult books are driven by a romantic, passionate ideal of what a person should be, which frankly turns me off. And a lot of young adult books have romance shoehorned in, which again turns me off. (I’m not the target audience for that sort of writing, of course, but it still makes me mad.) I appreciate how hard characterization is, and this very thing is one of the major things I struggle with, but I feel that unrealistic characterization is one of the reasons young adult gets maligned as a genre. I also want to see more funny books, but I think that’s just me.

Anne LutzAnne Lutz, author of LOSING VIOLET (Wattpad username: AnneLutz)

Mentor: Jen Brooks, author of IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT, releasing April 28, 2015, from Simon & Schuster for Young Readers

About me:

Anne Lutz is a nineteen-year-old author, residing in the beautiful state of Idaho. She is currently in her sophomore year of college, where she is studying to become a creative writing and book editor.

How did you get into to writing?

Like many writers, it’s hard to pinpoint the exact moment I became interested in writing. My parents read to me often as a child, and to this day, I have strong memories of my dad reading the Harry Potter series to me, long before I understood what they were about. When I was eight, I started writing for the first time. The stories were terrible, ranging from anecdotes of a girl playing dress up to cruise ships wrecking on mysterious islands. They were boring and poorly written, never making it past the first chapter. Nonetheless, these stories lit a spark in my imagination that continues its burn today.

What do you like to write best?

My first completed novel came at the age of seventeen, followed shortly by another. That summer, I went to a writer’s conference in Seattle, a wonderful opportunity that eventually led to a writing contract with a New York literary agency. I have since written two additional novels and won two short story contests (including this lovely one by the Freshman Fifteens). My two initial works are based in dystopian worlds, but the latter two are both contemporary. I love writing young adult fiction, regardless of the subgenre. At the moment, I am intrigued by romance-suspense novels, as they provide a greater challenge and a page-turning read.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

As for my thoughts on the evolving young adult genre, I cannot say what I hope to see next. I love the diversity of young adult with its many subgenres; however, I feel there is a strong lack of male POV in today’s market. It would be nice to see more books, such as In a World Just Right coming soon from Jen Brooks, published with a male perspective. Along those same lines, I would love to see books with themes based in gender equality and anti-sexism. Young adult books hold great influence over today’s society, and I would love to see heavier themes delivered in appropriate ways.

 

MakeMeSwoonReza, author of MIXED MESSAGES (Wattpad username: MakeMeSwoon)

Mentor: Jen Brooks, author of IN A WORLD JUST RIGHT, releasing April 28, 2015, from Simon & Schuster for Young Readers

About me:

A girl who loves to write.

 

How did you get into writing?

I got into writing when I saw my sister (well, twin) and one of her friends co-writing a story together around sixth (or seventh) grade. They created sketches of their characters, outlined the story by chapters, and hand wrote it in a journal during the school day. Afterward, they’d take turns typing it up at home. It was inspiring to see how writing made them happy. So somewhere along the way, I got myself a notebook and started writing. Back then, I didn’t type up my stories since I typed very slowly and the only person I felt comfortable sharing my stories with was my sister—my first reader. Not only did she encourage me, she told me how I could improve my writing and to this day, she has kept up to date with all my stories.

What do you like to write best?

I don’t have a strong preference in what I like to write right now. Currently, I’m challenging myself to write different genres, to create a broad range of characters, and to try different perspectives to find out what I like to write best. However, to give a gist of what I like to write, in a less general term, I like to write stories with romance as a subplot. No matter what I’m writing, 93 percent of the time, it’ll have some sort of romance—whether it is strongly hinted or not.

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

This is for sure a tricky question that I have wondered and discussed a few times before in the past. And to be frank, I don’t really know how to phrase it so I apologize in advance if my answer isn’t clear. What I’d like to see more of in YA fiction, as a reader, is to see how characters handle relatable situations, how it affects them (internally and externally), how they deal with it realistically, how the consequences of their decision affect them afterward. This is because I love reading about a character’s journey and the more “in love” with the character I am, the more satisfied I feel with the story at the end. Even if sometimes the character doesn’t handle these situations “appropriately,” discussing it and trying to understand the character is something I look forward to when I finish the story. It opens my mind to new ways of handling various situations and gives me new perspective to life.

Kelly's Mentee

Antara G. Roy, author of THE MARRIED TREE (Wattpad username: _coralsky_

Mentor: Kelly Loy Gilbert, author of CONVICTION, releasing May 19, 2015, from Disney-Hyperion

 How did you get into writing?

I have been writing ever since I was thirteen. Back then, I wrote a story about a girl who had powers of God but was actually human. It reached about 20,000 words and then I quit. When I was fifteen, we had this poetry writing competition at school. I won the third prize, but then the teacher told me I had plagiarized a song and I was a cheater. I seriously got a big blow that day because I had no idea which song she was talking about. I am really sensitive about my writing and I almost stopped after that, but fast-forward two years and Wattpad happened. I have started writing again. Slowly but steadily.

What do you like to write best?

I like to write mystery thriller specially psychological or with a humorous twist.Short story is another favourite

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

I would like to see more psychological teen-based thriller or horror dystopias. No one writes that.

 

Rachel WangRachel Wang, author of SOULLESS (Wattpad username = chandelier)

Mentor: Lori Goldstein, author of BECOMING JINN, releasing April 21, 2015, from Macmillan’s Feiwel and Friends

About me: My passions include chocolate ice cream, reading YA fiction, and dogs. Oh and writing. But I’m guessing you already knew that.

How did you get into writing?

To be honest, I really have no idea. It seems to have been a little bit of everything that inspired me—the comic books I drew in second grade, the creative writing projects I did for English, the scripts I wrote for drama . . . I always loved to write, especially fictitious short stories. It just wasn’t until I was in fifth grade when I decided that I absolutely had to write a murder mystery featuring Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth under the covers at night. (It remains unfinished at 23,000 words.)

Rick Riordan’s quote influenced me quite a bit as well and still continues to: “Write something you’d like to read.”

What do you like to write best?

My taste fluctuates between whatever I’ve read recently! If I’ve just finished an awesome, action-packed story like Legend by Marie Lu, then you can bet that I’ll try my hand at action! And then I’ll realize that I really can’t write action. So I’ll go back to my main three loves: contemporary romance, science fiction, and fantasy! (But I’ll read and write anything.)

What would you like to see more of in young adult fiction?

Mostly character-oriented things! I’d love to see some parents. I know that it’s definitely easier to have parents magically disappear (I’m totally guilty of this myself!), but I find I can relate ten times more to the character when they have actual struggles that I myself having to face. (Think Unearthly by Cynthia Hand!) And possibly some better relationships between female characters, like less slut-shaming and some intelligent conversations that aren’t about guys.

Lastly, diverse characters rock!

 

 

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