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Brittany Geragotelis, former editor of American Cheerleader magazine, is well on her way to becoming a bestselling author. After gaining more than 19 million readers by posting on an online writing community called Wattpad, Brittany finally gained the extra boost of confidence she needed to pursue her dream of publishing a book. Now, with a three-book deal with publisher Simon & Schuster, she will be releasing Life’s a Witch, the book she wrote on Wattpad, as the follow-up to a prequel called What the Spell, which will be released on January 29. In this exclusive interview, Brittany gives us some insight into her journey to becoming a published author.

For the full interview, pick up a copy of the Feb. issue of American Cheerleader.

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What inspired you to start writing the Life’s a Witch series?

I have always felt compelled to write. It’s what I love to do. It’s definitely work, it’s not all fun. It takes making a schedule. At the time, I was working at American Cheerleader full time. I would work 8-6, then take care of some things in my personal life, and then would write from like 11 pm until 1 in the morning. I had to keep an end game in mind. Then I was introduced to an online writing community called Wattpad. I figured I had nothing to lose at that point so I wrote something original for the site.

Where did you get the idea for the story?

After doing some research online, i found that people were reading a lot of paranormal romance on this site. Then, I started thinking about what hadn’t been done in that genre. I knew witches had been done before, but I started thinking about ways I could reinvent it. Like “what if during the Salem Witch trials, the people who were accused really were witches being persecuted by members of their own coven.” So from there I was able to reinvent history a little bit by taking real things that happened and putting my own spin on them.

Where do you get inspiration for characters?

The characters I tend to gravitate towards are usually strong, kick-butt types. I am a huge fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer so that had a big influence on my life. Buffy is a very strong, funny character so a lot of the characters I write are flawed but also very strong and fearless. The main character in Life’s a Witch, which will actually be the second book realsed in the series, is very popular and powerful but I didn’t want her to be the typical queen bee. She’s not snobby or mean. Even though she’s a witch and she has this influence over people, she ultimately uses her power for good.

In What the Spell, which is the first book we’re releasing and is a prequel/spin-off to Life’s a Witch, there are a lot of the same characters from the second book but it’s told from a different character’s point of view. She’s not popular and all she wants is to just be part of something. The main character in that book is much more closely linked to how I felt in high school. So I have two main characters in the series that are pretty opposite but still different versions of me — one is much more like how I actually felt in high school and the other is more like the aspirational version of me.

How do you tap into your inner teen?

I read teen books; I watch teen TV shows and movies. My personality in general is just like a teenager. I just got engaged and then hit me like, “wow this is so adult!” Obviously, I have adult responsibilities but I see myself as very youthful and I still just relate to those teen stories.

Do you have any advice for teens out there who are struggling to find their place?

I think the thing people need to know is number one not to let rejection change what your dreams are and don’t let other people dictate what you love to do. Sometimes things can get really rough in school and feel like it’s never going to get better. Just continue to do what you love to do and live with that knowledge that things will always get better!