FIRST PERSON: Newport teen author Beth Reeks

FIRST PERSON: Newport teen author Beth Reeks

SUCCESS STORY: Beth Reekes with her novel The Kissing Booth

BOOK LOVER: Beth Reeklesgrew up with books such as Harry Potter

HAPPY GIRL: Beth Reekles in 2003

YOUNG AUTHOR: Beth began writing stories when ahe started comprehensive school in Bassaleg

First published in News

TEEN author and straight A student Beth Reeks, who writes under the name Beth Reekles, can do it all as SOPHIE BROWNSON discovered.

“I WAS born on June 7, 1995 in Risca and lived with my parents Claire and Nick and younger sister Katie before moving to Rogerstone where I live now.

I have always been interested in reading from a young age – reading Harry Potter from aged seven and writing what is now known as fan fiction as I grew impatient waiting for the next book to come out.

I went to Mount Pleasant Primary School until I was 11 and then went to Bassaleg Comprehensive, staying on at their sixth form.

I hung out with a group of friends that I had from primary school and a few that lived on the estate.

Then in sixth form there were two common rooms and I used to play cards and Uno with with my friends.

I got banned from some of the games by my friends as I kept winning.

But I was never sporty at all as my hand-eye coordination leaves something to be desired.

At school I played the violin in Year 3 but I gave up in Year 7 to take up the flute in Year 8, aged 12, which I played right the way through sixth form in the wind band.

It was when I started comprehensive school that I started writing stories.

My dad gave me his old laptop to do my school work on but I used it to write stories.

I started writing ‘The Kissing Booth’ when I was 15 in between my GCSEs.

At school I was studious and got 12 A* at GCSE levels and four As at A level, I did most of my studying at home but did go to a few revision classes.

I think it was when everyone was having a break from revision and going on Facebook and things I would do my writing.

My friend told me about a good book she was reading online on a website called Wattpad and so I started posting chapters with cliffhangers on there in 2011.

I started writing ‘The Kissing Booth’ as I wanted a romance that didn’t involve a paranormal element.

I then started noticing that I would post a chapter and wake up to see that it had hundreds of views.

I thought it was a weird hobby and that people would laugh at me so I didn’t even tell my parents as I didn’t think they would understand how popular it was online.

Alongside this I submitted a short story into Bliss magazine which they ran in their summer issue in 2011.

I took a photo of the story and put it on Facebook and was getting comments from friends so I used to say to them that I was writing a book online.

When I started Wattpad I noticed that the readers were going on it quite a lot.

I used to upload a chapter in the evening, as I have a big American following and found the figures going up by a million or so every week.

It was at this point I noticed it becoming pretty popular.

But I didn’t tell all my friends as I was pretty self conscious about it.

When I left school in 2010 I did a placement with Tata Steel Europe for five weeks as my dad works for them.

My book deal came about as my publisher sent me a message in October 2012 asking me to sign a deal. As the following week was half term, my dad and I went to Random House in November 2012 and we signed the contract.

I have now written two books, ‘The Kissing Booth’ and ‘Rolling Dice’.

My e-book came out in December 2012 and the paperback came out in April 2013 and recently I had a phone call from my editor who was asking for another book summer of next year.

I started writing the second book – ‘Rolling Dice’ – because I took part in the National Novel Writing Month, with the challenge of writing 50,000 words in the month of November.

In January 2013, I got an email from Random House to say that they had sold the international rights for the book so now it is printed in Spanish, and in other languages and countries including India, South Africa, and Malaysia.

Then in September 2013 I went to Exeter University, as I wanted to go somewhere that is not too far away from home, and I also have a cousin there.

I did art and graphics at GCSE and thought about going in to that as a career but I just decided that I really liked physics.

People are always shocked when they find out that I am doing physics rather than English.

But I am not sure what I want to do yet, I just thought that there are a lot of career opportunities in physics.

But ever since Random House contacted me with the book deal they have changed my hobby into a career.

I’m not a typical teenager – I have only been out about twice since I have been at uni.

I like to play cards and there are a couple of us who have taken up knitting.

At the moment I am talking in schools about my journey to publication, speaking to Year 7 and 8 students at Oakdale Comprehensive as my sister’s friend works there.

In June 2013 I was on a News 24 programme called Closing Doors speaking about gender bias in physics from my perspective as a girl studying the subject.

Also in 2013 I was nominated for The Times Most Influential Teen.

I was just sitting at my laptop thinking that I should go to bed soon and my dad tweeted me with the link saying that I was on the list for The Times Most Influential Teen.

I ran into the kitchen and told my flatmates that I had been voted The Times Most Influential Teen.

The emails started coming through for interview requests.

On November 13 2013, the very next day, I went to London for the Women of the Future Awards as my publisher had nominated me for the Young Star category alongside five other women.

In December 2013 I went to the Random House Christmas party and met Jacqueline Wilson and quite a few people there had heard about me.

Jacqueline Wilson was one of my favourite authors so meeting her was like the best thing that ever happened.

I have another book in the pipeline called Out of Tune which I hope will come out next year.

Also, the film rights have been sold by the RHCSE (Random House Children’s Screen Entertainment) to The Kissing Booth, so hopefully that will be made into a film in the near future.”

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