Beth Reekles is quickly becoming a household name in the literary world. The now 19-year-old author of books such as The Kissing Booth and Rolling Dice has been an industry force since she got a publishing contract after posting stories on a popular writing website, Wattpad, at the young age of 15. Since then, Reekles has been named by Time magazine as one of the most influential teenagers in the world alongside Malala Yousafzai and Lorde while seeing her creative works hit the bestseller lists.
Somehow, Reekles manages to live a relatively normal life as a university student, and is celebrating the publication of her third book, Out of Tune, which is out now.
AROOSA: Your third book, Out of Tune, got published this month. Congratulations! What inspired the story?
BETH: I wanted to write a character who already had a picture perfect life, unlike my previous two characters – but where her life isn’t as perfect as it seems. It was really fun to play around with!
When did you know that you wanted to be a writer?
I loved writing when I was little – any short stories I wrote in school I’d carry on at home. When my parents got me a laptop when I was about eleven to do homework for school, I started writing more. I never took it very seriously, though, because it was only a hobby – until my book The Kissing Booth became really popular online and I thought that maybe I could write professionally one day.
Do you remember when you first started posting stories online?
A friend introduced me to Wattpad in 2010, and I started reading on there a bit before posting any of my own work. It was terrifying, because I’d never shared my writing with anyone; but I’m really glad I did it.
I’ve read a few interviews of yours where you talk passionately about promoting reading as well other things regarded as ‘boy subjects’ among girls. Do you feel that the online social media presence, from writing websites to blogs, has shown that girls can be interested in Shakespeare and sciences as they are selfies and Snapchats?
Definitely! I’ve had messages from other girls interested in STEM subject who have said they like how passionate and open I am about my love of physics, and I’ve found so many passionate readers online – if anything, I’ve found more girls who love writing and reading, online, than boys.
With your stories you’re saying, “It’s okay to be girly and dress up and make mistakes while eyeing up your crush”, and young girls are finding a new friend to go on a journey with. This is especially true considering you got voted as one of the most influential teenagers last year by Time, is there an overarching writing philosophy you have when creating characters?
My characters tend to just come to me with their stories already, but sometimes they need a bit of fledging-out, and I try to make them as realistic as I can – give them quirks like biting their nails if they’re nervous or blushing when they have to talk in front of a class because they’re shy. I endeavour to write characters that seem realistic and relateable.
How do you foresee things changing as you move forward in life, both the actual time you put into Wattpad and the focus?
I write the sort of things I like to read, so right now I like to read and write YA romance. In a few years I may change to writing chick-lit, or even murder mysteries! Recently I’ve put a lot less time into Wattpad because I’ve been so busy with uni, and that will probably remain the case for the next couple of years while I do my degree. After that, who knows? I might have a full-time job but be busily uploading to Wattpad every few days, or maybe I’ll be a full-time writer and too preoccupied to post much on Wattpad. I hope to keep using Wattpad, but it really will depend.
As you’ve become more recognisable because of Wattpad and the books and all the amazing awards, how do you take time to just be yourself without any pressures?
I’m regularly checking my phone to see any updates on my Twitter, new messages on Tumblr and Facebook, new emails from anyone. It’s the first thing I do when I wake up, and the last thing I do before I go to bed. I usually take time out for myself every so often with TV shows I want to watch – like a new episode of ANTM or Game of Thrones or The Great British Sewing Bee or something like that. And I make time for my friends and my boyfriend, too, but it can be quite difficult if I’ve got a lot going on – both with books and uni – so I always have a long to-do list to keep myself organised.
Is it true that The Kissing Booth may be adapted into a movie?
The rights have been sold to Random House Children’s Screen Entertainment, and Vince Marcello has been signed on as a scriptwriter, so it’s all in progress at the moment. Fingers crossed I’ll have more news soon and that there will be a movie!
And lastly, your own story – getting a book deal as teenager because of spending time online and being generally awesome – is one which would be a bestseller. No pressure, but what title would you give it?
A Computer and a Cuppa – The Beth Reekles Story.