INTERVIEW: Leigh Ansell

When we think of some of the best writer's on Wattpad, there's a lot of people that come to mind. But when it comes to Teen Fiction and contemporary romance, leigh_ is one of the biggest names out there. She's a 21-year-old girl from the UK with an adorable accent and a huge talent for writing good books that will keep you in insufferable pain as you impatiently wait for her to upload a new chapter. 
Leigh Ansell (that's pronounced 'Lee' - not "Lay"), is a Wattpad Star with more than 120,000 followers over 27 million reads on her stories. (Yes, you read that correctly. More than 27 million reads.) She was published last year alongside a heap of other cool Wattpad writers in the Imagines book and even runs her own YouTube channel in her spare time for her followers to get some extra Wattpad love.
She's written books like Vanilla, Friendship for Dummies, Trapeze, and Camp Runaway - all with their own huge stack of readers and fans. She's an expert with stories of Young Adult romance and has even been diving into the world of science fiction with her latest novel Human Error.
If you love books by Sarah Dessen, you'll definitely love what leigh_ has to offer. You're likely to laugh, cry, and fall in love with all her main characters within the span of a chapter. (Seriously, she's that great at writing).
Check out our interview with her below!
Hi Leigh! Thanks for doing this interview with us!
Hi! No problem – it's my pleasure. 
You've said before that your main characters all have a little bit of you in them. Which ones do you relate to most or share the most qualities with?
Well, I think it's impossible to lend 80,000-ish words to a character's perspective and not have a little bit of you creep in there! It's always been a priority of mine to make sure their personalities are different enough to set them apart, because it can be really easy to slip into default MC character traits. Each one of them has a different part of me (though perhaps with the exception of my first couple of novels, because I prefer to pretend those don't even exist...). Flo (Vanilla) has got my shyness, something that gets worse around big groups of people my own age. Coraline (Room Service) has hardworking-bordering-on-workaholic tendencies. And Ellie (Camp Runaway) is one of the seemingly few people in this world who didn't have the summer of their life when they took a job as a camp counsellor. Actually, thinking on it, it's probably Ellie. Camp Runaway was written pretty much off the back of my own experience (the first chapter came out of Toronto airport, waiting to board my flight back to the UK after my own disastrous attempt at camp counselling). So I guess, just by nature, the characters of that book are the ones closest to me.
Contemporary/Romance seems to be your most common genre. Is there any reason behind that?
I think it was my starting point purely because it was what I liked to read. If I tallied up the genre of every book I've ever read, romance would come out way ahead. I also think it's perhaps one of the less daunting genres for an amateur author. It's set in the world you live in, so there's no need for huge volumes of research or fantasy world-building. You can make the plot as complex or simple as you like. And really, when it comes down to it, there's a lot of people out there who'll root for their two favourite characters to live happily ever after.
Yep! There's nothing better than a cute couple to ship! What are your tips/tricks for when you're suffering from writer's block or lack of motivation?
Writer's block doesn't get any easier, even after years of writing (which is really annoying). Unfortunately, I don't really have a one-size-fits-all tip – because my two suggestions are actually pretty much polar opposites. Sometimes taking a break can be the best thing for your writing brain, whether this break lasts two hours, two days or two weeks. It can be as simple as getting away from your computer screen (or notebook) and thinking about something other than your novel for a while. But, disclaimer: that doesn't always work. Avoiding writing for long periods of time can sometimes do more bad than good. So if you're still struggling for motivation after stepping away, a bit of self-discipline is probably in order. Force yourself to sit down in front of your screen, turn off the Wi-Fi (if things are drastic), and get some words down on the page. Even if you think they're terrible, keep writing. Anything is better than a blank page – and 9 times out of 10, when you read it back, it won't be so bad after all.
Human Error has been quite different in comparison to your other novels. Has it been a different experience for you to write this particular novel?
Yes, definitely. It's now a year in progress, and I can say I significantly underestimated the challenge of writing dystopian/science fiction. The world-building is on another level, and you have to consider everything outside of your little bubble of main characters. I had to ask questions I'd normally never consider. What's the political situation like? How far is technology likely to have come in 200 years? What would the world population be? What happened to religion? These are things I'd not typically include in a teen fiction/romance novel. That being said, it's not a leap I regret making. The plot is hard work, and writing it day-to-day is hard work, but there's nothing quite like that feeling when you realise all your loose ends are coming together – or when readers in the comment section begin to ask the big questions you've been trying to provoke discussion about all along. It's a whole different experience, but a genre change I think I was well overdue.
What's your ideal writing setting? (location, music, food, tea, blankets, ect.)
I've been known to write in some strange places (waiting to board planes, on school computers with folders blocking my screen from everybody else, in view of train-seat neighbours on a daily London commute), but it always goes back to one favourite: the good old coffee shop. Starbucks or Costa, no preference. There's just something about good coffee and a busy atmosphere that just forces you to be productive. And without the distraction of everything else at home (Netflix, other books, an endless supply of food...), my word count goes up exponentially.
So we've been binging on some of your videos for a while. Your vlogs with other Wattpaders and the BTS of clips of your stories are definitely fun to watch! What made you decide to start your own YouTube Channel?
Thank you! YouTube was something I kind of started on a whim, and I thought it'd sit well alongside what I was already doing on Wattpad. I'm a little embarrassed that the Behind the Scenes series has come to a bit of a standstill, as I know those have been really popular with readers – but I hope to get back into it in the future! Also, I've come to realise I love vlogging. I don't do anything interesting enough to vlog on a daily basis, but Wattpad events are a whole other story (pun not intentional, but now I'm going to act like it was). I've filmed London Wattcon two years running, and I'm really proud of how both videos turned out. And of course, I did an even longer vlog for my 4-day trip to Wattpad HQ last summer, which was so much fun! Though it's great that Wattpad as a site is so international, it also means it's difficult for a lot of people to attend events like these – and I think vlogging is a great way for people to experience it first-hand, even from the other side of the world.
And finally, do you have any future book ideas in the works?
As of right now, the only things I have planned for the future are two more Human Error books. Yep, that's right, spoiler alert: it's going to be a trilogy! I've never even written a sequel before, so it's a big jump, but I think it's a story that just one book couldn't do justice. Whether I'm going to go straight for book 2, or fill the gap with something else entirely? I'm not sure yet – only time will tell!
What an exciting announcement! We can't wait to read more of this series. Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Leigh! We love your books and can't wait to see what the future has in store for you.
No problem – it was great speaking to you. Hopefully you'll be seeing a lot more from me in 2017!

Make sure to check out leigh_'s stories on Wattpad (if you haven't yet already!) and follow her at all her social medias linked below.

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