Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren on landing a book deal in 5 days

Victoria and Faith are two blonde author besties living in too-sunny Los Angeles, CA, where they both write all the words, drink gallons of coffee, & yell at their favorite shows on TV. Their chilling debut YA novel HORROR HOTEL publishes with Penguin Random House imprint Underlined in the Spring of 2022!  YEM was able to speak with Victoria and Faith about their book deal, working together, and their writing process before they took over the twitter account for the day!

Young Entertainment Mag: What made you know that you wanted to be a writer?

Victoria: I went to school to study Chemical Engineering. Needless to say, being an author was NOT on the radar, but when by some miracle I graduated, I spent the entire summer inhaling Regency romance novels to heal from a grueling four years. To satisfy my insatiable appetite for stories, I got involved in the local film scene in Ohio, and then moved to LA to be a screenwriter. 

I met Faith in an online novel writing class, which led to the two of us working together, which led to a successful WattPad debut, which led to us landing our fabulous agent, and now — this exciting YA horror debut! So I wouldn’t say I ever “knew,” but instead just took a very long stumble into a writing career.

Faith: When I was little, I had a compulsive drive to tell stories that manifested in some pretty spectacular bold-faced lies. But it wasn’t until I was a young mom, living in Brooklyn — away from my hometown, my whole family and all the familiar I’d found comfort in — that I turned to writing as more than just a creative pursuit. It became my lifeline, and the dream of writing for a living has been a driving force in my choices ever since.

YEM: You landed a book deal in 5 days without a book, an outline — or even an idea, what was that process like for you?

Victoria and Faith: Intense! But fun. But intense! We worked pretty much non-stop for a week. We saw Wendy Loggia’s tweet (heard ‘round the world), got on the phone with our agent, and spent three hours in Faith’s backyard playing idea football. Finally, we landed on a premise that made us both shout, “That’s it!” We shook hands to seal the deal. 

For the next four days, we hashed out the 11-page proposal and 42 pages of the book. We even pulled an all-nighter the night before we promised to send it to our agent. Katie read it, loved it, and sent the pitch to Wendy and Alison Romig (our editor) the next day. A week later we got the offer (cue confetti).

YEM: What is it like working and collaborating together?

Victoria and Faith: It’s magical. We have different strengths that complement each other so well. Faith loves to draft and flesh out characters and setting, while Victoria loves to massage scenes and add layers and character details. One writer generally writes forward while the other comes in and adds her voice, which keeps the voice and tone consistent overall. If one of us gets stuck, it’s so nice to be able to call the other so the writing keeps flowing.

We always somehow manage to get on the same page (book puns, ha) with what needs to happen in the story, which feels like a miracle for two headstrong, opinionated-as-hell authors.

YEM: Having worked and collaborated together before on Ellie is Cool Now, was this time easier having done it before?

Victoria and Faith: No, not easier — neither of us has written novel-length horror before, so it definitely still feels like a challenge. We both love a good challenge, so maybe it’s easy in the sense that we are having a blast! We also know each other’s strengths and preferences, so I guess the collaborating part is easier, even if what we are writing is not.

YEM: How did you bounce ideas off of each other?

Victoria and Faith: We talk. A lot. On the phone, via text, together in person. And we don’t stop talking until we get an idea that is the one. It’s the “that’s it” moment, not just for the big idea, but for all the little ones too. It has to feel right or it won’t work.

YEM: What can you say about Horror Hotel coming out spring of 2022?

Victoria and Faith: We love fun horror movies, movies like Scream or most recently Freaky (Freaky Friday with Vince Vaughn as a serial killer if you haven’t seen it), but we also love (what we consider) truly terrifying horror like Hereditary or Paranormal Activity. Expect to get a little of both in this book, with just a splash of friends-to-lovers romance because we can’t help ourselves.

YEM: What is some advice you have for someone who wants to be a successful writer?

Victoria and Faith: Our advice is to think outside the box and don’t be afraid to break the “rules.” There are no real rules – listen to your guts, your instincts, your intuition. Also, avoid too much outside writing and career “advice.” Even if the advice is good, too much of other people’s opinions can get you too in your head about what you’re “supposed” to do. You’re not supposed to do anything — except read and write and find ways to get your words to your readers. That’s our opinion!

YEM: What is something that you have learned from each other as writers?

Victoria: Faith’s ability to just sit down and write and love the process has definitely rubbed off on me and I try to soak up some of that effortless workflow whenever I can. I think most writers get in their heads about the writing process, usually because of fear, but not Faith. She loves to write and get lost in the pages, and it’s just so inspiring for me as someone who often struggles to get my butt in the chair.

Faith: The first thing I learned from V was about dialog. Specifically, that I overused character’s names in dialog. She pointed out how we don’t say names in real life half as much as characters in books do, and this little tweak has had a huge impact on the way I write.

She’s an idea machine, but she’s willing to push ideas until they become the best they can possibly be. Even in my solo work, I find myself asking questions like V does rather than just following the knee-jerk storytelling direction. She doesn’t shy away from adding that pop of humor or that sharp edge that makes writing impossible to put down.

YEM: What is your favorite part of the writing process?

Victoria: Dialogue. The screenwriter in me loves to eavesdrop on other people’s conversations (oops), and then turn around and construct quippy, conflict-laden conversations that feel true to life. I also love a good will-they-won’t-they romance that makes readers want to smash names together and ship their favorite characters.

Faith: I am a fool for drafting. I love the pure creation of putting words on a page and seeing the story slowly start to take shape. There’s nothing like falling in love with and getting to know my characters as I write them. Plus, figuring out plot makes me feel like a master detective at work which I secretly always wanted to be.

YEM: What is something you hope your readers take away and learn after reading your books?

Victoria and Faith: We hope they learn a thing or two about friendship and what it means to be a good friend. A good friendship isn’t perfect or without conflict, it’s about being able to work through your differences and help each other grow. 

YEM: Who inspires you as a writer?

Victoria: Literally everyone inspires me as a writer. I meet characters I love in real life, on social media, in other people’s stories (in movies, on TV and in books) and I find ways to incorporate them into our stories, as inspired by Austin Kleon’s book STEAL LIKE AN ARTIST.

As far as other writers and creators, I love Stephen King’s advice in ON WRITING, Aaron Sorkin’s dialogue, and Ari Aster’s twisted mind. I also watch a ton of true crime, so unfortunately, the poor souls of Dateline or a depraved serial killer docuseries will provide creative fuel for new stories.

Faith: As a novelist and a screenwriter, my biggest inspirations come from other writers who are multifaceted in the mediums they tell stories in. 

Nora Ephron, Taika Waititi, Jordan Peele, Ari Aster, Emerald Fennel, are some screenwriters and filmmakers that come to mind who’s stories always get me excited to write.

Maggie Stiefvater, Leigh Bardugo, Jenny Han, Angie Thomas, and my friend, Kim Liggett are some incredible female writers doing badass things to bend the genres they write in, while also making strides into film and TV as producers and writers on their adaptations.  

That’s what really inspires me: Women making waves wherever they go. 

YEM: What are some of your personal favorite books?

Victoria: Besides all the usual phenoms (like HARRY POTTER, TWILIGHT, & HUNGER GAMES), THE WINNER’S CURSE series by Marie Rutkoski (my fave YA), A HEAD FULL OF GHOSTS by Paul Tremblay (my fave horror), and THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne (my fave romance)

Faith: You know this is the most impossible question to answer, right? But, okay fine, here are SOME. A sampling, if you will. 

  • The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater
  • TWILIGHT. Do not @ me.
  • THE HATING GAME by Sally Thorne
  • THE HUNGER GAMES series, which I read like three times. 

Follow YEM on Twitter to see Victoria Fulton and Faith McClaren take over our account today!