Interview with Wattpad author Angela Merlo

meTell us about your writer’s journey…
It’s really hard to keep this answer concise. It’s been a long journey, a sad journey, one connected to my personal struggles with anxiety and depression. Fast forward through all of the, I can say that in the spring of 2014, I had an unfinished manuscript that I’d been playing with for years. An author I admired and a few other people were impressed by it and encouraged me to get serious about finishing and promoting the project.
Later that year, I joined Wattpad and began syndicating chapters of my novel, Devil’s Lake. I was a bit sheltered from other author’s ideas and ambitions about success on Wattpad.  I was easily impressed, and kept waiting for the chapter that would have zero reads, or the day the book would stop ranking. I suppose that’s my whole strategy for being happy. Anticipate the worst so that you’re expectations are always exceeded. Maybe that’s why I always get anxious when I’m tempted to raise my expectations and hopes.

My journey hasn’t been like some of the authors I’ve admired on Wattpad, but I still appreciate the successes I’ve had. Devil’s Lake reached #4 in its genre about a month after Wattpad began featuring it. It occasionally makes it back into the top ten or very near there. I’ve been aiming to self publish a paperback for awhile, all without the anticipation of making any real money off of it.  I’ve still tended to have that pessimistic approach of “Throw it out there without expecting a bite. Maybe something will surprise you.”

But with that said, I have been growing a little more confident and did recently write a story for the #OnceUponNow contest. Honestly, it’s the most light-hearted work I’ve written that I actually think is good. Amazingly I like my characters. They’re just a little eccentric in a fun way, rather than the dark and depressing way I’ve always defaulted to. Maybe that’s just a reflection on how much I’ve grown since I began writing Devil’s Lake. I don’t know. I am excited about the contest though and feel more enthusiastic. Even though I feel prepared for it not making it, it doesn’t feel as threatening to hope for it. So that’s got to be a good thing.

What do you love about being a writer?newdevil2
I think it’s more about being in love with the story and characters you’ve developed than with anything else. I am always surprised when I hear so many authors complain that they hate editing. I enjoy editing far more than I do drafting. The story and characters are far more fleshed out in you mind by the time you complete a draft than when you have a mere outline.

I once had someone point out to me that this might mean I didn’t spend enough time planning the story and developing the characters before I began writing. That may be true. Devil’s Lake especially has involved lots of rewritten chapters and revisions. It’s been a learning process even with the planning I did ahead of it.

I do think I could write a story faster and more organized than this one was (if I’m passionate enough about the project to start it), but I don’t think any author magically gets there by attempting to restrict themselves from the path of mistakes. Those paths teach you more than merely “what not to do.”

What’s been the best part of being on Wattpad?

The community is amazingly supportive, and its a good place to build your initial band of followers and supporters. Recently I became a part of the Wattpad Community Toast Group on Facebook. It’s still pretty new. It started with RK Close organized an online toast for Juliet Lyons to celebrate sending off her manuscript to her publisher. Primarily it’s about toasting book launches.

Largely it seems that the most successful writers on Wattpad don’t just have talent but really network together to help each other. Even when it comes to the #OnceUponNow competition I’m competing in, there’s a supportive vibe and I think the platform is really designed to encourage that sort of interaction rather than to look at each other as mere competition.

But I suppose maybe what I love about Wattpad is the access to readers. I love getting comments from my readers. I get teary-eyed just thinking of the number of people who’ve read my work. I’ve never had this many people read my work willingly.  Friends and family always seem to afraid they’ll hate it. They’ll read three sentences and tell you it’s wonderful and then go on about having no time to read. At least that’s been my experience.

Wattpad has given me a great boost in self-confidence. I’m so happy people enjoy my work.

onceuponnowIf you could have dinner with any authors, who would it be and what would you eat?
Oh goodness! I haven’t a clue. I’ll say this. If I could get a phone booth time machine and do a Bill and Ted, I’d gather up GK Chesterton, CS Lewis, and JRR Tolkien, put them in a pub and just listen to them talk. Maybe I’d throw in Flannery O’Connor as well, but I’m not sure she would stay.

Vampires – do you prefer them as sexy leads or blood hungry monsters?

Do you mean do I prefer Dracula or Twilight? I’ve only read the first Twilight book. It’s not as terrible as some people make it out to be. Certainly the level of it’s success is a head-scratcher. It’s not that good. I’ve also never been that much of a Dracula fan. I like Carmilla better.I’d say, though, it was really the early 90’s re-revival series that really got me first into vampires. At 10 years old, I did find Barnabus frightening, and yet by the time the show got to his relationship with Victoria Winters, I really wanted them together. I loved his internal battle.

In high school, my favorite author was LJ Smith. The Vampire Diaries were originally published in the early 90’s, so by the time I started reading her work, she was publishing “The Night World series.” Everyone loved Ash Redferd, but I still loved Poppy and James’ story over any of the series. Poppy had pancreatic cancer and was dying. James, the vampire, was offering to save her life.

I’d say, I don’t think it’s either/or.  It’s both. Meyer’s vampires, especially as they come across in the film, aren’t scary for reasons beyond the romantic elements.


Where can fans find you online?
They can find me on Wattpad at www.wattpad.com/light-in-darkness (or just search @light-in-darkness).
They can friend or follow my personal author profile on facebook at https://www.facebook.com/AMerlo.light .
My blog is angmerlo.wordpress.com . My twitter handle is @AuthorMerlo though most of my posts are fed from Facebook. Twitter frustrates me to no end.
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