Author August: Taran Matharu – When Wattpad Flew Me to Toronto

Author August- Taran Matharu When Wattpad Flew Me to Toronto

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

It’s June 2014. I’ve just hit 3.5 million reads on Wattpad, a social reading community with over 60 million books and 30 million users. My book, Summoner, which began its journey on Wattpad, is going to be published in Spring 2015.

The NoviceMy dreams were coming true and I didn’t think it could get any better. Then the email comes through and I can’t believe my eyes.

Wattpad have invited to fly me out to Toronto, to meet the team and attend their new office launch party! My answer is yes, yes, a thousand times yes!

Fast forward three weeks and I’m in a taxi to the hotel in downtown Toronto. It’s blazing hot and the city is beautiful, high rises and skyscrapers layering the city like candles on a birthday cake.

I arrive at the Cambridge Suites Hotel, and there’s a goody bag waiting for me!

But there’s no time to dig in, there’s a photo shoot about to kick off in a few minutes! I quickly get ready, then head out to Wattpad’s new Headquarters.

I’m instantly introduced to some of the other amazing Wattpad authors, names that I had already known when I dreamed of achieving success on Wattpad. It was very surreal meeting them all (strangely enough, I was the only guy).

Before we get a chance to hang out, it’s on to the photo shoot (see the picture)!

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After the photos we got to sit down together, talking books, writing and of course Wattpad. It was amazing how much we had in common.

The party started soon after and I finally got a chance to meet the Wattpad team. What was immediately apparent was that everyone LOVED what they did and were hugely passionate about Wattpad. They were warm and welcoming to all of us, making sure we felt comfortable and happy the entire night.

The highlight was the presentation by Ivan Yuen and Allen Lau, who talked about the future of the company and how we, the authors, had helped them get to where they were today. I felt like a rockstar.

Later that night, I drummed up the courage to introduce myself to Allen with Lillian Carmine, author of The Lost Boys. We ended up talking for a long time, discussing e-business and startups, a passion we all shared.

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“I have to show you something,” he said. “This is the presentation we show to all of our new staff.”

He held up his laptop and went through the journey of Wattpad, from when he and Ivan somehow started working on the project independently before finding each other, to sharing stories on phones before smartphones even existed, to their millions of users today. It was a rocky, emotional and deeply personal road, with many twists and turns. I sincerely hope that Wattpad’s story is shared someday.

What was incredible to me was the passion that Allen had for what he was doing. He recalled the messages he had received from children around the world. How they had told him how Wattpad had encouraged them to start reading again, to get an education and to learn how to write. The story that had most touched him was an email from a young man who had been heavily involved in gangs, as he could not afford books to read or even a television. Wattpad had taken him away from the criminal world, changing his life forever. It was more than a business to Allen. Wattpad was a force for good.

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There were many more inspiring and eye opening conversations that night, but it’s safe to say that there was a lot of wine and poutine consumed and eventually we were all playing customized cards against humanity!

The next day we are up early for breakfast with Allen and his wife Eva, before heading over to Wattpad HQ to interview with the staff on how they can make Wattpad better for us, as writers. It was amazing to tell them about my ideas, as both a business student and a writer.

Later we had an informal lunch in the spinning restaurant at the top of the CN tower!

We got to sit and chat all things Wattpad with the team and take a whole lot of pictures on the top of the tower.

Later that day we were interviewed by two reporters, where I got to talk about Summoner, how Wattpad had changed my life and the collaborative projects on Wattpad that I was working on.

Finally, it was time to say goodbye, but not before Wattpad told us that they had organized a trip to Niagara Falls for whoever was still around!

In the end it was, Anna Todd, author of After and Abigail Gibbs, author of Dinner with a Vampire and myself who were able to go.

It was a fantastic trip, where many margaritas were polished off, haunted houses were visited and collaborative projects were born.

Since then we have stayed in touch and are already working on a few things together! Hopefully Anna will get a chance to fly to the UK to visit Abby and I soon.

It was a bittersweet day when I left Toronto. I had met so many talented people who I had found to be warm, genuine and inspiring. I hope that some day I will have the opportunity to meet them again. Until then, the memories of this incredible experience will have to do!

My personal thanks to Taran for taking part in Author August!

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

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