If you didn't already know, Abigail started writing Dinner with a Vampire when she was just fifteen, and had signed a publishing deal aged just seventeen. Wow!
Hi Abigail! You’ve just signed your first book deal at the age of seventeen. It doesn’t get much better than that! How does it all feel? Have you stopped screaming yet?No! I hope I never stop!You started posting your work on Wattpad – an online writing community - a couple of years back. Can you talk me through your path to publication from those early days online to when you got your publishing deal? How did it all happen for you?I began on Wattpad in 2009, when I was just fifteen. I already had about fifteen chapters written of my novel, The Dark Heroine: Dinner With A Vampire, then called Dinner With A Vampire. Did I Mention I’m Vegetarian? and after just one night, the first chapter had gained ninety-five reads and three fans. To me, this was astounding, and it only grew from there. Four months in, Dinner With A Vampire had gained a million reads (I think it was the first on the site to hit that mark), won an internal Wattpad competition and was the most popular story on the site. It gained a lot of media attention, another sixteen million reads, and even in those early days, I had agents and publishers approaching me because of the novel’s popularity. However, I was young and happy to keep writing for myself and my loyal, growing fan base.In 2011, my agent, Scott, approached me via the site. I signed with him soon after (it was one of those gut instinct things) and then spent a long time ironing out the kinks in a serialized manuscript, and of course, writing the ending that, as it happened, was never posted on Wattpad. Fast forward through university interviews and lots of exams, enter Amy, my editor from HarperVoyager UK, and news of a two-book, six figure deal with HarperCollins came through.When I say it like that, it sounds so easy. (It wasn’t. It was hard work!)
What is your writing process? How long did it take to write The Dark Heroine from start to finish? Typically, how many hours do you spend writing per day?It took me just under two years to finish The Dark Heroine. Considering the fact it’s a sizeable manuscript and writing was interspersed with school, I’m quite proud of that time frame. But I am a slow writer. I over think everything I do, and my stories are no exception. I might sit down for five hours, and only write a paragraph. On other occasions, I can write for an hour and produce an entire chapter. For that very reason, I don’t have a daily schedule, but if I took a guess, I would say perhaps an hour a day. With deadlines on the agenda, however…For any readers who may not know all about The Dark Heroine yet, can you describe the book in a tweet (140 characters or less)Violet Lee witnesses mass murder in London; kidnapped by vampires. Choice: humanity and captivity, or Vamperism and dangerous Kaspar Varn…That is really hard to do.According to the synopsis of The Dark Heroine, it’s the sexiest book I’ll read this year! Can’t wait! Tell me about this guy Kaspar Varn. Is he one of these bad boy types that I so love?Well, if you’re looking for whips and handcuffs (other than in the metaphorical sense, of course), I’m afraid you will be disappointed. But…Kaspar is the absolute epitome of a bad boy. He does whatever the hell he wants, and most of the time, he gets away with it, which is why the fallout from his kidnapping of Violet is such a slap in the face for him. Completely comfortable with what he is, a vampire, he makes no apology for his killing of humans or animals. He’s good looking, rich, and makes the most of it with the women. He is dark, unpredictable and treats most people like the dirt under his feet.But there is a softer side to him. He is grieving and afraid, and there is a part of him which wants to step forward and become who he is; to take responsibility. But Violet… well, Violet is a challenge to him, and it is not a game he intends to lose, whatever fate might throw at them both.
What advice would you give to any aspiring authors out there who have been inspired by your story? What are your top three writing tips?1) Write whatever you want to write. You have to enjoy writing or it’s not worth doing and your story will suffer. A lot of people told me not to write a vampire book, but I persevered because I enjoyed it and it paid off!2) Get a second pair of eyes involved; preferably a third and fourth. Whether that is on an online community such as Wattpad, where you can access instant praise and constructive criticism, or just advice and feedback from an honest friend, your manuscript will benefit.3) Pacing is crucial, and be mindful of it always, especially at the editing stage. If a scene doesn’t move the story forward and show (not tell!) the reader something, it needs to go, however beautifully written. For example, one particular scene in The Dark Heroine about the protagonist’s birthday was a favourite with me, my Wattpad fans and my editor too. It was a really fun, sexy scene and provided some light relief. But it did nothing to add to the plot, and I’m sure you can work out what happened…Can you name three other books that readers of The Dark Heroine might also enjoy?For vampire romance, a fun protagonist and a little bit of action: Insatiable by Meg Cabot.For vampires nitty and gritty: The Darren Shan Saga.For fantasy and magic: Eragon by Christopher Paolini.What are you reading at the moment? Have you read any great books lately that you’d like to recommend to everyone reading this interview?At the moment I’m reading Great Expectations by Charles Dickens in preparation for university. In terms of something a bit more fun, I would really recommend Insatiable by Meg Cabot (or anything by her. I love The Princess Diaries!) Also, blazing_dreams4 and AiramBooksie are both great writers to check out on Wattpad.Finally, what are you working on next?I’m currently working on the sequel to The Dark Heroine: Dinner With A Vampire, tentatively named The Dark Heroine: Autumn Rose. Readers of Book 1 will very likely figure out what I am going to do with the sequel, and I am extremely excited to be doing something that is simultaneously quite different from Dinner With A Vampire and yet completely entwined with it. And that is all I’m saying.
Find Abigail Online: Twitter