Pen Friends ~ Come meet author and wattpad sensation Rebecca Sky as she shares about her writing and some of her own life stories, (which are just as gripping as her fiction!)
SP: Welcome Rebecca! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and when you started writing?
I’m the oldest of 5 kids, a wifey to a hot Canadian rock star, dog lover (I know writers are supposed to like cats, *whispers* cats scare me), I’m a red head (sadly this does define me), and I live on an island just off the coast of Seattle, Washington—because of this I tell people I’m a Pacific Islander.
My journey to writing is a long one, so I’ll give you the quickest version I can. When I was little I was fascinated with stories, my family was poor and we didn’t have TV or money to buy books so I’d hunt around the neighborhood and in parks and collect pop and beer cans to return to the grocery store for the $0.05 reward. I used that treasure at garage sales, buying every book I could find. My collection varied from manuals, to historical recounts of China, to Nancy Drew mysteries. When I wasn’t flipping through their pages, I was adorned in wild costumes and acting out scenes from plays I’d make up for my siblings. It was all a very “Little Women” lifestyle.
My love for the stories translated to life, and when I graduated high school I set off on a worldly adventure that landed me in Africa for a year. While there I was bitten by a very poisonous spider that rendered me unconscious for three days. Luckily, I happened to be with a team of doctors and nurses and they took care of me during that time, part of which consisted of slicing and draining the poison from my wrist (gross I know, but it is relevant to my writing journey, don’t worry we’ll get to that soon). When I finally awoke, I was told how very close to dying I’d been. There was a bright red vein all the way from my wrist to my armpit, and if the poison had crossed past my armpit it would’ve entered my main blood stream. I’d narrowly escaped death, and was ready to live my second chance to the fullest.
Unfortunately, life had other plans for me. Months after the bite I started to develop extreme pain in my wrist and shoulder, that soon spread to the rest of my body, and in no time I was bed ridden. I had my family paint inspirational quotes on my ceiling so while I was lying in bed I could look up and remember other people have gone through and overcome horrible things. I knew the pain wouldn’t rule me, still it was a challenging year in bed, undergoing tests, trying to figure out what was happening to me, why my body was shutting down, struggling with the anger of not being a normal teenager, and the worry that I was squandering my life in bed. The doctors soon concluded my health problems were a result of the spider bite and that chronic pain would be with me forever. Through a combination of rehab, mind over matter, and medication, I started to get mobile again. It was around this time that my little brother found a website called Wattpad (a place writers and readers can go to share and read stories). He got me reading on Wattpad and soon encouraged me to try writing some of those fanciful stories I made up and acted out in our plays as kids. I was so afraid and excited, never in my life had I thought I could be a writer. Words were sacred to me, they were my world, could I be invited into theirs?
Eventually I gave in to my brother and tried writing, (he’s much bigger than me and can be very convincing). I opened a Wattpad account under a fake pen name (L.J. Michaels) thinking if I sucked then at least no one but my brother would know. Well something strange happened. The moment I typed the first words of my first story I found myself, all the pain, all the unknowing of what I was, slipped away and the words I had spent my life loving became so ingrained in me, they were like oxygen. I was hooked. I spent every moment writing, and when not writing I was thinking about writing. Writing saved my life, it gave me purpose and a focus to distract me from the pain, it was something I could do when my legs refused to walk, or my back hurt so much I couldn’t get out of bed. And I realized all those years of dreaming out loud were training for writing my own wild stories! When I realized I didn’t suck, I basically was like, “surprise readers, I’m Rebecca.” Thankfully they stuck with me!
SP: You are kind of Wattpad wonder with over 10 million reads on some stories. Would you recommend Wattpad to new writers? How did putting yourself out there grow you as a writer?
Yes! 100% I would. Not only does Wattpad offer you a place to receive valuable feedback straight from readers, it also helps you build community and a fan base for your work. If that’s not enough reason to join, this past year Wattpad started offering compensation to writers in the form of ad revenue! I post rough drafts or work too “out there” for traditional publishing, and now I can get paid for them.
SP: You are sort of a travel bum, right? You describe yourself as a bohemian. Where is your next dream vacation and would you write there?
Since I was a little girl I’ve dreamed of going to Ireland–It’s the only place loud mouthed red heads can blend into a crowd. I’ve been to over 25 countries, but never there. I’m saving it for something big. It would be a DREAM to live there for a few months and write a book. I can picture it now; gazing out hand-blown windowpanes at the rolling hills, blanketed with magical sea mist, and everything is endlessly green. *sigh*
SP: Congratulations on signing with Sarah Manning and the United Talent Agency! How have things changed for you and your writing since getting an agent?
Oh man! Sarah is a monster agent, I’m so glad I chose her. I had a few offers but she was hands down the most excited about me and my story. I can’t go into too much detail, but she’s done things for me I never thought an agent could do. Not to mention it’s so awesome having someone in your corner who believes as much in you and your work as you do. When I got her set of revisions for my manuscript I was so stoked, not only did her vision match mine, but she saw ways to strengthen it. The story has never been better, I’m so proud of it, and I have Sarah to thank for a large part of that.
SP: You are a 2016 Pitchwars Mentor – how has this been a positive experience? Do you recommend these types of contests for new writers?
I for sure recommend it. The writing community has some of the best people in the world and PitchWars is a great example of that. Whether you make it in or not, you’ll find writer friends for life. If you make it in, get ready, you’ll work hard but you’ll learn a lot and you’ll leave with a really strong manuscript, and maybe even an agent! As much as rejection sucks for those who don’t make it in, it’s a good gauge to know to keep working on your manuscripts, to keep pushing forward. I’ve seen a number that didn’t make it in last year, make it in this year. I’ve also seen many from last year get agents before having a second go at Pitchwars. As a mentor, I get to hang out with all the other mentors, and man do they teach me a lot. This year I’m co-mentoring with Stacey Trombley, she’s smart, talented and is someone to watch. She’s not afraid to write about difficult topics. I know she’s going to do big things with her work!
SP: If you could list a few things that inspire your writing what would they be?
Wonder. I’m so darn captivated by life, that everything makes me wonder. I’m constantly questioning, dreaming, wondering. It’s a heavy influence in my characters, in how they see and interact with the world. Also the concept of forgiveness and redemption. It’s something that often trickles into my work.
SP: Favorite drink while writing?
Green tea. I literally drink pots of the stuff every day. If one can be addicted to tea…I’m an addict.
SP: A word of advice for new writers?
Read. Then read some more, in your genre and in others. And write, for fun, to learn and grow, and with whatever ambitions fuel you. It’s easy to get trapped in the need for perfection, especially if you want to publish your book. But the need for perfection stifles creativity and growth. Allow yourself the grace to make mistakes and the grace to take the time needed to get to the place where your work is publishable. Some of us take longer than others and that’s okay!
SP: Where can we learn more about you and your book? Please feel free to provide a blurb for a book, too!
SP: Thanks Rebecca!
Thanks for having me, and thank you to everyone who took the time to read this interview! Xo Rebecca
Nova, signing off