Today I am excited to share an interview with Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren, the authors of the YA horror book Horror Hotel. It was a fun quick read – I finished it in 24 hours. The story took many twists and turns, keeping me on the edge of my seat and turning pages well after my bedtime.
I was excited to interview Victoria and Faith since the story of how the book came to be seems unlikely. They spotted a tweet asking for book proposals, which quickly turned into creating a proposal and landing a deal. It’s such a great story of women fearlessly seizing an opportunity. I hope this story inspires everyone to keep chugging along on their passion projects and to take advantage of opportunities.
I love the story of seeing a tweet asking for book proposals and responding. Did you respond with a full proposal or just an idea? Had the idea been in your heads, or did you come up with it based on the tweet?
A few different friends sent us Wendy Loggia’s tweet like, “you should do this!” We didn’t have an idea ready to go, but we knew we wanted to do something in horror (they publish horror, thriller and romance). We worked with our agent to come up with an idea suitable for this imprint (Delacorte/Underlined). Our agent told us “horror for the masses” and so we spent an afternoon just going back and forth, pushing ideas until we had an idea that felt like striking gold. It’s a feeling – we both screamed “that’s it!” and literally shook on it. Then we wrote the 11-page proposal and 42 pages of the book in 5 days — a week later we had an offer! Cue confetti!
What advice do you have for someone hoping to get a book deal? Do you think the untraditional path is best in 2022?
We think the path that excites you most is the best path for 2022, and any year. We wrote our first book chapter-by-chapter on Wattpad, and it was a joy to write that book with readers in real time. It eventually sold to Forever, an imprint of Hachette Book Group, so it was an untraditional path that led to traditional publishing, which was our goal. The advice we’d like to give someone who wants a book deal — write and be open. Learn all about how publishing works, but then forget all of that and do what lights you up. There is not one way to become a successful author, and in fact, there are infinite ways. Listen to your guts.
Once you landed the book deal, what was the writing process and how long did it take?
Part of the deal was that we had to work FAST, so we had a two-month deadline for the first draft and then a two-week deadline for edits. Faith can go, go, go and write, write, write, and Victoria tends to work slower and do word surgery. It’s a combo of both that gets us to a polished final product.
Was Horror Hotel inspired by any personal experiences with ghosts or psychics?
Yes! The book was inspired by the Cecil Hotel, but neither of us has actually stayed at the Cecil Hotel because it closed soon after the disappearance and tragic death of Elisa Lam. We have been to the Queen Mary in Long Beach several times, which has been named the most haunted hotel in America. We’ve had a few weird encounters on this ocean liner-turned-historic hotel (odd ringing in ears, unexplainable moving shadows, motion lights coming on outside of rooms when no one is in the hallway, that kind of thing). The Faith side of this author duo possesses psychic abilities of her own and has had numerous encounters with the dead and has even predicted a few high-profile celebrity deaths in vivid and deeply sad dreams.
Do you think that Horror Hotel could become a series? (I hope so).
We think it could! The fate of more books for the Ghost Gang ultimately rests in the hands of the publisher, but we would absolutely love to explore what’s next for this wild group of YouTuber teens (and see what new and probably dangerous shenanigans they’ll get up to at other spooky locations).
Is there a project you are working on now?
We just announced our next book, a little bit different — an adult rom-com called ELLIE IS COOL NOW that will be published in Winter ’23 with Forever/Hachette Book Group. We’re also working on new ideas to pitch to Delacorte/Underlined (wink wink), so stay tuned!
I know that you are both women who wear many hats. What advice do you have for women who are juggling different projects and jobs while balancing family life? I have been working on a book for years and it’s so hard to find the time to devote to a passion project. I know many women in the same situation.
The Faith side of this author duo could write all day every day, so getting out words is not an issue for her (and pretty much a compulsion). Sitting down to write is more of a challenge for Victoria, so having a partner like Faith who is driven to the finish line, has been helpful. Our best advice is to find an accountability partner or partners and find ways to put pressure on yourself to get to “The End.” Also, break up the huge task of writing a book into smaller bite-size pieces — a doable daily word count or an hour first thing in the morning or before bed. Find the path-of-least-resistance process that works best for you and keep tweaking until it works and you’re a book-writing machine!
If you want a light fun read with a side of ghosts – check out Horror Hotel. This would be a perfect vacation read. I would love to see more books about the Ghost Gang – it would make for an exciting series.