For the next several weeks, I’ll be posting interviews with authors who will be featured in this summer’s Wattpad Block Party.
The Block Party is a bi-annual event featuring great authors, multiple giveaways, and a chance interact with multiple people in the Wattpad community.
Rob Shapiro could be called a bit of a veteran to the Block Party. He’s participated in them all since the first one. I recently had the opportunity to interview him.
You’re the author of The Book of Sam, a YA fantasy adventure involving a teenage boy, bullying, and an adventure through a fantasy version of Hell. As your book blurb states, “It’s Labyrinth meets Goonies meets Dante’s Divine Comedy. Tell us a little about yourself. How long have you been writing and how did you first find out about Wattpad?
I’m a full-time writer and have been published several times and had a few things optioned and produced. I’ve been writing professionally for close to 10 years and for fun since I was very young (my first story was titled The Adventures of Indiana Robbie). My wife first told me about Wattpad, and I was a reader on it for a year until I finally had a story I was dying to tell.
That’s really cool. Could you tell us a little more about your previously published work? What would you say has been your greatest accomplishment thus far? What are you most proud of?
I had a story published when I was still in college, but most recently, I sold stories to two different volumes of Toronto Comics Anthology and one to an forthcoming anthology titled Hogtown Horror. I’m super proud of my involvement with Toronto Comics; they’ve sold well and were critically and publicly well received. I’ve seen them on display at book and comic book stores and we’ve been invited for book signings and to different conventions and events.
So what went into your decision to post your story/novel for free on Wattpad versus other routes?
As soon as I had a story, Wattpad was the perfect place to test it on engaged readers. My idea was that instead of just going to publishers claiming I had a great story, I would be able to prove it with numbers; to do the heavy lifting before my query even landed in their inbox. The challenge was to put my story out there and let it sink or swim.
It was easily Hollinshead. I think a lot of YA features very typical female characters, so I was determined to create one that had the characteristics of a main protagonist and wasn’t just there for romantic purposes. At the same time I wanted her to grow to be the hero of the story. My goal was to make her decisive and bold and have the traits that Sam was lacking.
So she’s not the main protagonist, but she has her own arc? I notice from one of your blurb, that Sam enters Hell in order to rescue his best friend and girl of his dreams, Harper. Hollinshead is described appears to be a female companion that joins Sam on his journey to rescue Harper. Does she end up turning Sam’s head a little anyway or would you say she remains more of a good friend?
She definitely divides Sam’s affection. I find teenagers to be kind of funny when it comes to romance. At that point in our life, every feeling is on steroids so every time we fall in love it feels like it’s “the one”. I think the idea of a teenaged boy hunting down the love of his life in a fantasy world, only to develop feelings for another is a pretty accurate portrayal of a teenager’s commitment to love and relationships. We can all relate to that in some way, I hope.
Hollinshead definitely has her own arc and if I write a sequel (which is my intention), she figures even more prominently. I always viewed her as the real hero of the story. She leads, sacrifices and provides some semblance of reassurance that they have a small chance of surviving the journey.
Do you have any planned dates as to when you’ll start working on the sequel? Will it also be available on Wattpad?
As of now, I’m querying agents for The Book of Sam and outlining the sequel. I’m a ways away from actually writing it but I hope an outline will be completed this summer. I’m writing a film write now and some TV on spec, so the sequel is a bit on the backburner…that being said, my head is constantly in Hell and I can’t wait to write these characters again. One hint I’ll give is that the sequel will have a character that has the head of wolf and lives in a lighthouse. But please don’t hold me to this.
It’s tough to say if the sequel will be on Wattpad or not, but the idea does really appeal to me.
I first received word of it from Kelly Anne Blount and thought that it was awesome. I loved the idea of giving a platform to writers to connect with fans, and to also highlight their work. Let’s be honest, standing out from the millions of books on Wattpad is incredibly tough so something like the Block Party offers that opportunity. I don’t remember how I first came on board but I do remember it being a really simple and exciting process mainly because of Kelly Anne and the other authors who are really open and supportive. It’s an impressive group of people.
I notice you were featured in the first Block Party. Were there any parties you missed? As a seeming veteran of these parties, what have you learned through your participation? What can people expect?
I think I’ve participated in all of them, but I might have missed one. I learned that the Wattpad community is really invested in connecting with other authors and they have a lot of questions. I try really hard to reply to every comment and answer every questions and The Block Party is a good avenue for those connections to be made. I like to use the Block Party to talk about my experiences both creatively and in trying to sell a manuscript. My hope is that it’ll help someone through rejections or to take the leap to query agents or publishers.
People can expect great content and some helpful tips from a great group of people who have varying success as writers. It’s tough to define success since it’s subjective and relative, but I think readers can learn a lot from the posts or get additional content on stories they already love.
That’s great. We’ll definitely look forward to you post in August. Do you have anything else you’d like to mention before we go?
I can never stress this enough but THANK YOU to all of the readers who have taken the time to read The Book of Sam. It’s been a wild ride and the votes and comments have meant a lot to me. I’ve gotten a lot of private messages telling me how much they love it, and how in some cases, it even inspired them to write adventure.
Lastly, if you love a story please share it. It takes only a few minutes to tweet or send a note to your Wattpad or Facebook networks or to even review it on your blog. It really does make a world of difference.