Exciting news, Harlequin has announced the winner of their 2015 So You Think You Can Write contest! Lauren D.M. Smith of Brockville, Ontario Canada, will recieve a two-book contract with Carina Press, Harlequin’s digital imprint. Her fantasy romance, The Emperor’s Arrow, garnered the most votes, which is especially impressive considering that Wattpad registered more than 10 million reads over the course of the contest. Let’s meet her and find out more!
Congratulations! Tell us about your book.
As a warrior sent as a bride candidate for the emperor, Evony isn’t terribly impressed with Galen or the whole contest. But as she learns his real reasons for the competition and about the plot surrounding him, she finds herself in danger even as she’s torn between love and honor.
Why did you decide to enter the contest?
I’ve always dreamed of getting one of my books published. It was actually my brother who told me about the contest, two days after it had opened, and I thought that I might as well give it a shot. I’d already had a general idea for The Emperor’s Arrow bouncing around my head, so I just tweaked it and started writing.
What one thing do you think was the key to your success?
The support of others. It seriously amazed me how many friends, family and even friends of friends were willing to read and support my story throughout this whole process. Then there’s my followers on Wattpad, especially the dedicated group who read and comment on pretty much anything I write. Without all of them together, there’s no way I’d have made it this far.
What do you think was the most successful thing you did to get votes on Wattpad?
I honestly don’t know. I really only posted a few times on Wattpad, and on my personal Facebook account, telling people about the contest and asking them to vote. I was just lucky enough to have people willing to support me.
Every entry in SYTYCW was amazing, and if you haven’t checked out the rest of the submissions, especially the Top 10, you need to. Every one of them is incredibly talented and poured their heart and soul into their work. I was surprised with how everyone in the contest has been so incredibly kind, supportive and caring of each other. It’s really amazing how wonderful people can be even in the midst of a competition.
Was this the first full-length novel you ever wrote?
The first full-length novel I ever wrote was titled Uncharmed. I wrote it when I was eighteen and well … let’s just say I can’t stand looking at it anymore. It’s really, really bad.
Tell us about your day job.
I’m a coordinator at a provider of educational tours, which run across the world. I work primarily with our group leaders, who lead the programs, help solve any issues on the ground and overall just work hard at ensuring everyone has a great time.
What was it like when you got “The Call”?
Oh god, I swear I was a mess. I actually started happy crying after the call ended, and I rarely cry normally. I was shaking and just crying on my couch and really had no idea how to react. It still doesn’t feel completely real, like this is a dream I’m going to wake up from.
What’s your favorite paragraph in The Emperor’s Arrow?
“The sound of the door opening made both of them jerk their heads away from one another. The movement drew the attention of Balint who stared at them for a moment. Then he smiled, ‘Sorry, I’ll let myself out, so you two continue.’ “
The Emperor’s Arrow will be published digitally by Carina Press in 2016 — with a potential print version to follow. So many congratulations to Lauren and all the participants! In the meantime, why not check out some more fantasy reads on our Everything SFF page?