Hey guys! I'm Beth Reekles, author of The Kissing Booth – it's now a Netflix Original movie, but it started right here on Wattpad.
(I'm hoping you'll have heard of it from Wattpad, but I'll give you a pass if you missed it on here. Brownie points if you've seen the movie though!)
For those of you wondering, here's how it all happened:
I first began posting The Kissing Booth on Wattpad back in 2011. I was fifteen/sixteen as I was posting and writing it – and the reason I wrote it was because I was sick of only being able to find paranormal teenage romances. I wanted a regular high school romance. And when I couldn't find that, I wrote it instead.
I never imagined it would take off the way it did.
And I'm not saying that to be modest. I mean, really. I was blown away as the reads climbed up into the hundreds of thousands, then millions. People used to comment saying I should make a movie of it, it read like a movie. I'd scoff and think yeah, right.
And yet here I am, seven years after I first began writing the story, and it was one of the most-watched movies in the world for weeks after it was released on Netflix.
The book was popular here on Wattpad. Like I said, far more so than I ever expected it to be. There were a few things I did to try and keep people interested: I made a cover and wrote a description; I uploaded every couple of days; and I tried to respond to as many comments and messages as I could.
Going from Wattpad to a publishing house to a movie was a crazy journey.
In October 2012, I was offered a three-book deal for it with Random House (now Penguin Random House). In March 2013, a production company got in touch to say they were interested.
The production company, Komixx, had a partnership with Random House at the time. They'd heard about the book through them and loved it, wanted to work on it. I met with them in the March and the guys at Komixx had so much passion and such a great vision for the story and where it could go that I was excited to work with them on it.
They optioned the rights to adapt my book for screen. Optioning is basically like renting the rights: Komixx had them for a short period of time (say, two years) and then if they decided not to work on it, I'd get those rights back and could sell them again.
But they did decide to work on it. They brought Vince Marcello on board in 2014 as the scriptwriter. Around this point, Komixx purchased the rights (to keep them and be able to continue working on the project). I got to have a Skype call with Vince, too, to talk about his vision for the movie and how he saw it shaping up, the changes he wanted to make, and we talked a lot about the characters.
I was sent the first draft of the script so I could give some feedback on it – and at that point, I fell in love. It was funny, brilliant, and I was blown away. I'd known The Kissing Booth was in good hands, but that really confirmed it.
After that, I'll be honest, it went quiet for a while.
Then last year – January 2017, I got the phone call. I already knew we were working with Netflix (not that I could say anything!) but now we had a cast, and they were going to start filming by February.
Now, I didn't have a lot of involvement in the film, past that initial script feedback and conversations with Vince and Komixx. I wasn't involved in casting, directing, or anything else like that. But I was able to take some time off my old job and fly out to set for a week to see it come to life.
And it came to life.
Plus, I got to have a cameo during the costume party scene. (Did you spot me? Let me know in the comments!)
The movie totally blew up. People loved it. Some people hated it. But the love and support it garnered was overwhelming, and I was touched that so many people fell in love with my story. A story I'd started writing as a fifteen year old, alone in my room with a laptop and my imagination.
I don't want to use this post to wax lyrical about how perfect I thought the cast were (they were perfect), how it felt to see my characters come to life (phenomenal), or even start a discussion about the possibility of a sequel (because, I'm sorry, there's just nothing to say on that front! I'm making no promises).
Instead, I want to wrap this post up by focusing on how this all started. How it really went from just being a story I wrote to being a hit Netflix Original movie.
And honestly? It was because I asked myself why not?
I'd found Wattpad through a friend back in 2010. I loved the community here and saw all these other people – including a lot of teenagers – posting their stories, sharing them with the world. I was always a self-conscious writer (and still am!) but there was something so freeing about the idea of sharing it with total strangers. If they didn't like it, so what? It's not like they'd tell me they liked it to save my feelings – they'd just exit out of the story. If they told me they liked it, it meant they really did.
So despite my reservations, despite me being so self-conscious about my writing, I thought, why not? And I realised I had nothing to lose by sharing my book on Wattpad.
That was one of the biggest moments of this whole journey, for me. Having the courage to share The Kissing Booth. If I hadn't, none of this would ever have happened. I'd still be writing, but I highly doubt I'd be able to call myself a published author, much less have a movie adaptation!
There was a moment where I was standing on set while they set up for the first party scene of the movie. There were hundreds of people around. Crew setting up equipment, extras, the cast, makeup and costume, caterers, people dressing the set – honestly, so many people working on this movie. And all because of something I'd done as a teenager, because why not.
I hang onto that moment. It helps me realise the power of the why not attitude that kick started this whole journey.
And I don't plan to stop it any time soon.
I'd love to know: what's your biggest motivator when it comes to sharing your work, and what holds you back? Let me know in the comments below!
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