YA sensation Brittany Geragotelis joins the spotlight this week to talk about Life’s a Witch, her new publishing deal, and who’s inspired her creative muse. It’s been an-eight year journey, but she’s arrived and ready to wow more readers after signing a sweet deal for her next works. Brittany is a former magazine editor, self-professed book nerd, and has penned over seven YA novels. Life’s a Witch is a smash, re-imagining the Salem Witch Trials into an up-to-date tale that caught the attention of many readers over at Wattpad and turned heads in the publishing industry.
Q) It’s intriguing that you took an historical event, modernized it and added an element to the plot appealing to YA readers. How did you create characters, topics and settings for Life’s a Witch?
A) When I created the characters in Life’s a Witch, I tried to come up with people that I would either like to meet myself or I thought would stir things up. When I was coming up with my main character, Hadley Bishop, I really wanted to recreate the pretty/popular girl. Instead of the typical mean girl, I made her someone who cared about other people. I thought that was something we hadn’t seen in YA before (and possibly not often in real life). As for the topics and settings–of course, high school was an obvious background, but then I wanted a place that was a little more isolated for them to hide out in, as well as for the final showdown, so that’s where the cabin came into play.
Q) So, if historical events influenced Life’s a Witch, does that mean you were a history hack when you were younger? Can you give us some names of authors and their works who’ve had the most impact on your writing and why you chose them?
A) Hmmm, actually, I’m not a history person at all. I’m much more fascinated with the history of celebrities than I am with the history of the U.S., but I think there’s something that’s universally interesting and horrifying about this time in our history. Partly because of the mystical tie-in, but also because of the blatant ignorance and hate that happened. Where do you think the phrase “witch hunt” comes from?
People who’ve had the most influence on my writing career are: Christopher Pike, because his books were the first ones I read that I fell in love with. As a teenager, I would spend every last dollar I had buying up his books. He had the ability to make me scared and sad in the same book. Love him!
I adore Meg Cabot and think she’s so creative, funny, imaginative and one of the best writers out there. But moreso than that, she has a career that I truly admire. She’s managed to create a long-term, successful career, has delved into movies and gets to wake up each day doing what she loves. Amazing!
And lastly, even though he’s not an author per se, I am obsessed with Joss Whedon, the creator of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer.” “Buffy” impacted my life in such a huge way, I can’t even begin to describe it. It made me really think about my role in this world and what I wanted to do with my life (hint: it’s not being a vampire slayer, but it is impacting the world in a positive way). I think that Joss Whedon might be the most creative, inspirational, genius person in the world. The character he created in “Buffy” was such a strong role model for young women and I think you can learn a lot about life through watching the seven seasons the show was on. GENIUS!
Q) Brittany, you began on Wattpad, a space for readers to connect with writers who publish in this nontraditional format. What’s your journey been like? Rumor has it that you’ve signed with an agent for a three-book deal, dish it all, cause we’re listening!
A) The rumor’s true! Yes, I’ve been fortunate enough to have recently signed a 3-book, 6-figure deal with publishing powerhouses, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers! But you’re right….mine has been a LONG journey filled with a ton of rejection. For about eight years, I tried the traditional route of being published: Had an agent for a while, tried to sell my books to publishers and all I got were a lot of, “We love the book and your writing, but it’s just not for us.” After a few years, my agent dropped me and I had to re-evaluate whether I wanted to continue with writing. I took a 6-month hiatus, but after that time, I got the itch to write again and started back up, this time with the intention of writing without the soul goal of being published. So, I wrote a few more books, and then was introduced to Wattpad.com, an online writing community, sort of like a YouTube for writers. I was hesitant to give my stuff away for free, but realized that the whole point of me writing was to get my stuff out there for people to read, and at the time, all my books were sitting in a folder on my desktop, collecting dust. So, I decided to give it a go.
I created something specifically for Wattpad, after doing some research into what kids on there were reading (FYI: it’s supernatural romance). That’s how I came up with Life’s a Witch. I started to gain a following slowly at first, but then it continued to grow. I published one chapter every Saturday over a 6-month time period, and by the time I was finished uploading, I’d had 6 million reads. Six months later, I decided to publish the book myself after fans had begun to request it; and at this point I had 18 million reads. After I self-published, I started getting some press, most notably from a kind reporter at “Publisher’s Weekly,” and after he wrote about me, things really started to blow up. Suddenly I was being contacted by agents, publisher’s and people in the movie/television industry. So, I landed an incredible literary agent, Kevan Lyon (Marsall Lyon Literary Agency) and then a great foreign rights agent, Taryn Fagerness (Taryn Fagerness Literary Agency) and finally, a movie/tv rights agent, the wonderful Brandy Rivers (Magnet Management).
Soon after being written up again in “Publisher’s Weekly” and “Huffington Post,” we had a lot of interest from mainstream publishers, and went into an auction for the book. After two days of negotiations between several houses, we decided to go with Simon & Schuster. The deal includes a prequel/spin-off of Life’s a Witch, which is called What the Spell? and will be published as an ebook in three installments for $.99 this fall, before being published in paperback this December! Then, we’ll be re-publishing Life’s a Witch in fall of 2013 and the sequel in fall of 2014. I’ve also sold the rights to Life’s a Witch in Italy, Spain and Romania, and we’re in talks with Hollywood producers about selling the movie rights.
Everything that’s happened in my writing career has been such a blessing. I can hardly believe that it’s my life! But I’m not taking any of it for granted. I understand that I’m in a position that a lot of other people would die to be in and I’m going to do my best to say yes to every amazing opportunity that comes my way. I’m truly living my dream right now and I just want to show up and do the best I can! Thanks so much Roxie! I had a lot of fun answering your questions!
That’s awesome Brittany, thank you for sharing your inspirational story, and letting us peek into your writing space! We’ll be watching for the release of What the Spell? 😉
You can find Brittany on Facebook,