‘Imagines’ Author Interview: Kassandra Tate

It’s our week of Imagines and we’re doubling down today with two interviews. The first interview of the day is from author Kassandra Tate. Her Imagines was written about Michael Clifford of 5SOS. And we’re convinced that Kassandra has super powers, because Michael tweeted Wattpad yesterday.

Wattpad and Gallery Books have teamed with International Bestselling Author Anna Todd for Imagines. Imagines is some of the greatest Fan Fic authors from Wattpad writing a unique anthology of “imagines.” Imagine your favorite day with celebrity. What you imagine isn’t half of what these authors imagine – well at least it isn’t half of what I imagined.

Read our interview with Kassandra below.

What was it about Wattpad that made you want to start writing on it?

Funnily enough, I always used to see Wattpad as something I could never, ever be a part of. Any time I stumbled upon the website back in middle school, all it did was overwhelm me. When you click on the Wattpad homepage, you’re basically bombarded with a dozen stories with millions upon millions of reads. It’s a little intimidating! I used to think they were mocking me, reminding me about everything I could be, but wasn’t. You could say preteen me was a little jealous. So jealous, in fact, that I shied away from posting all together because I thought it’d be a lost cause––that my story would be white noise amongst thousands of other stories trying to make it.

Right before my junior year of high school, my twin sister Kalina suggested I try it out, and I got this unexplainable good feeling when I thought about it. I’m the sort of person who’s all about the feeling I get from things, so I think that’s what drew me towards writing on Wattpad when I decided to. I no longer felt overwhelmed about posting my work, but excited. Something about Wattpad won me over, and made me let go of all that self doubt I’d been holding in. And today, getting to call myself published, I finally understand what that good feeling meant!

What’s the biggest lesson that you have learned from writing on Wattpad?

My favorite quote is by Saul Bass, and it goes: “I want to make beautiful things, even if nobody cares.” I think it’s important to acknowledge that it is both a blessing and a curse to get constant, almost instantaneous feedback on Wattpad. Writing is a very solitary act, and most conventionally published authors don’t get to press post on a chapter and have their readers comment on specific lines. But if you write on Wattpad, your entire creative process is going to be a lot more crowded. Sometimes your hope that you’ve written something good is going to be validated, and sometimes people aren’t going to like what you’ve put out. Over time I’ve learned that, when you’re writing and posting at once, you’re bound to, at some point, feel pressured to make changes just so everybody’s happy. The amount of times I’ve gotten the urge to tone something down or omit things entirely is innumerable. But I hold onto that Saul Bass quote, because it’s something everybody needs to remember. At the end of the day, you started writing because you wanted to. There was no audience, no comments, no view-count. It didn’t matter if nobody cared, you just wrote!

How do you write – do you outline the book or do you just write off the cuff?

A mixture of both. I usually like to have an outline planned for reference, but I never let it pin my story down. My book on Wattpad, The Famoux, is something I’ve written a million drafts for in the past, so when I decided to rewrite the whole thing as I posted it on Wattpad, had to make an outline of every scene and plot point I wanted to make sure I covered. Even then, most of it was still off the cuff (and, as a result, totally off the outline). I’m just bad at planning, I guess!

What conventionally published authors are your biggest influences?

I’ve been primarily influenced by writers like F. Scott Fitzgerald, Sylvia Plath, Charlotte Bronte, and John Knowles. I won’t even begin to assume my writing could ever reach their caliber, but there are little pieces of their styles and methods that I deeply admire. Whenever I’m hit with writer’s block, I always refer back to works from these artists before anybody else.

What is the biggest misconception about authors on Wattpad? What do you want people to know?

One of the first hateful comments I ever got on my novel The Famoux went something like, “Wow, no wonder why real writers can’t get published if people are reading this.” It really shook me. Reading it over, I realized how much the comment appeared to alienate me from actual literature, despite the fact that I wrote literature every single day of my life. Since then it’s been absolutely maddening to me that people can accuse Wattpad writers of not being real writers. Writing is not this exclusive club you need a VIP pass for. Surely, not everyone can claim themselves to be a published author, but to be considered a writer, all you have to do is write.

That’s a really big misconception that I want to make clear: whether a Wattpad writer is posting a fanfiction about a band, or an erotic romance, or a sci-fi dystopian (like my novel), they are writing it. You don’t magically become a fake writer just because you chose to post your writing on a platform where likeminded readers can find it.

What was it like – finding out that you were getting published?

It was, lame as it sounds, a dream come true. You see, I’ve been telling people since I was about twelve years old that I’d be published before I graduated high school. It was my biggest aspiration. I used to picture it in my head every night before I went to sleep––what the colors would be on the cover, how it would feel to see name in Borders (erm, Barnes and Nobles now?). Of course, that dream looked a little far fetched the moment I actually entered high school and realized that I only had four years to make it happen. By the time I finished sophomore year, I didn’t think I’d ever be able to pull it off.

I got the email from Wattpad about getting to be in Imagines the night before my first finals week of senior year. I can barely put to words how lightheaded, and overwhelmed, and suddenly out of breath I was. I’d been walking to my desk to study for statistics, harmlessly checking my email like I always do when I want to avoid real work, and I suddenly dropped my phone and burst into tears. Dream big, kids.

Tell us about Imagines. What can we expect?

Imagines is unlike anything you’ve ever found in a published book. It’s not too often you find a story written in second person, and it’s even less likely that the given story makes your costar a widely beloved celebrity. You can expect a wild ride from it. The best part is that there are so many different writers in it, so no two stories are the same, and it never gets dull. There’s always a new surprise around the corner when you turn the page! That’s what I love about it the most. One moment you’re in a crazy scenario with Kim Kardashian, and another moment you’re running into Jamie Dornan. Expect the unexpected!

What made you want to be part of the Imagines book?

The moment I heard about Imagines, I knew I had to be a part of it. The concept of writing imagines has intrigued me for a long time. I used to find them all over twitter from a variety of fandoms, and the one constant I found was that they made people happy. There would be tweets under a given tag of imagines that raved of how a certain one gave a user butterflies, or made them giggle, or was exactly what they needed. At any given time, you truly never know what a person can be going through. Some nights, a little story that declares you are Niall Horan’s girlfriend, and he just bought you roses! might be the only thing that makes somebody smile. Being a part of this book meant being a part of making people happy. I couldn’t resist the opportunity!

What’s the hardest thing about writing fan fiction? Do you feel a pressure to live up to the expectations of the fandom?

The hardest part, to me, was making my celebrity authentic without feeding a false image. I wrote my imagine on Michael Clifford from 5 Seconds of Summer. From Twitter, to Snapchat, to old Keeks from the very beginning of the band’s formation, fans have always been very connected to 5SOS. As a person who has attended a few 5SOS concerts in my time, I really wanted to do justice to the fandom as well as the band. The last thing I wanted to do was to project this false character who barely fit the person fans know and love. I think that’s what concerns people about fanfiction––how sometimes there are characters who share nothing in common with a celebrity (in either a good or bad way) besides their name, especially when the character is supposed to actually represent the celebrity. If I simply made Michael the caricature of a charming boy for girls to swoon over, or made him a stereotypical punk guy because of his band’s rock association, I would feel like I was exploiting Michael Clifford’s name just to make the story popular. And that’s not cool. Ever. Because of that, I wrote my imagine with the utmost respect for 5 Seconds of Summer, and really hope the fandom knows that!

Tell us what you can about your story in Imagines. What is the one piece of advice that you would give your fellow Wattpad writers?

My story’s title is pretty self explanatory: Michael Clifford Takes You To Prom. It’s going to be about all the magical and crazy things that happen when your prom date is suddenly the lead guitarist from one of the most popular bands in the world.

I’m really big on quotes when giving advice, because it’s so often that somebody’s already said what’s on my mind in a way that’s much better than I could ever articulate. That being said, I’ll offer my fellow Wattpad writers this quote from my favorite poet of all time, Sylvia Plath: “The worst enemy to creativity is self doubt.” Self doubt, to me, is much more than something you build up by yourself. Every outside opinion you hear is going to filter through you, and while you’re going to let some of it go, but you’re also going to keep some of it inside you. Whatever you keep forms the way you see yourself, and especially what you write. But I don’t want you to ever let what other people think of you become a part of what you think. I don’t want their doubts to become your doubts. If there’s anybody in the world who’s always going to be reading what you put down, it’s you. Make sure that if anybody believes in you, it’s you.

Give us one author on Wattpad that everyone should be reading.

ElleRoseBooks. Not only is she one of the kindest people I’ve encountered on Wattpad, but her writing is so incredibly versatile. She might be popular for her fanfictions, like Strings Attached and Sonata (which have 13 million and 16 million reads, respectively) but she impeccable at fantasy writing in her newest story, The Arottir. She deserves all of the attention she’s gotten and more!

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