Anna Todd, author and co-screenwriter of the recently-released romantic drama After We Collided, talks about her journey from publishing stories on a storytelling platform to becoming a bestseller
When Anna Todd spent her childhood days burying her nose in The Baby-Sitters Club and Goosebumps, little did she know that millions would read her books someday. She is now a published author with several books and films to her credit.
She started her writing journey on Wattpad, an online platform that publishes user-generated stories, which helped her publish her first book, After, in 2014. It was all uphill from there. Two of her novels — After and After We Collided — were adapted to films and she went on to write 10 more since. Despite mixed reviews, After We Collided, which had a limited release in theatres and is currently streaming on Netflix, became a success at the box office.
“If I wasn’t a writer, I have no idea what I would be. I would probably have an office job and would be daydreaming of being a writer”, says Anna, replying via e-mail.
You found your love for books and writing at a very young age, who were your favourite authors growing up?
I have been an avid reader since I can remember and started really loving to read through Harry Potter. I remember waiting to check the books out at my school library as they were released. I also loved classic literature, Jane Austen, The Bronte Sisters, Hemingway. My love for reading really bloomed from them and it definitely shaped the way I write characters and plotlines. Everyone loves a classic trope.
You have mentioned that your writing journey began on Wattpad. How did the platform help you become a published author?
Wattpad was a creative outlet for me. It was a place where I felt like I could publish my writing, even though I didn’t think anyone would actually read it at the time. It’s such a safe and free place for creatives and without it, I wouldn’t have published my work.
From where do you draw inspiration for your books, characters, and story conflicts?
All over the place! Some of the characters come from different versions of characters I love from classics, or modern literature, but mostly just my imagination. I literally draw inspiration from everything around me, whether it is a stranger’s conversation, a song, or once even a television commercial.
How different was your experience as a screenwriter?
Screenwriting is very different from writing a novel. In writing a novel, the writer is the one steering the ship. With film, the director has the ultimate say and it is much more of a collaboration than a novel, where the writer is the one making the character’s choices.
After We Collided released worldwide and has been well-received. What do you feel about the film’s success and its lockdown release on Netflix?
I’m really honoured and happy to give people a little escape from reality. The world is such a hard place right now, no matter where you are, and I love that film and books can bring an escapism to all of us during difficult times.
A word of advice for aspiring writers?
To never take no for an answer. If a door closes, find another one. Publishing and the path to get there is changing daily, so the walls that we thought were keeping us from being writers are crumbling as you read this. No one can decide if you are a writer. To be a writer, you simply need to write.