Introducing Shelly X. Leonn, YA Thriller Author Who Began on Wattpad

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Muffin readers, we are so excited to share with you today this interview with Shelly X. Leonn, who is a YA thriller writer with her first book out two days ago! She started on Wattpad, which is where she also found her agent. She is cool and positive and hosts a podcast, where she might want to interview you. Plus, through exchanging emails when Angela asked if I wanted to interview her, we discovered in this weird universe of ours that our kids go TO THE SAME SCHOOL! :) Read this delightful interview to find out about Shelly's book, what else she's working on, and her path to publication.

WOW: Congratulations, Shelly, on your debut novel just coming out, titled The Ghost and the Wolf , part of  The Broken series. Please tell us about your book--genre, audience, a bit about the plot.

Shelly: Greetings! Thank you so much. It's been a whirlwind, and I'm so grateful to everyone who has helped me along on my journey. My first novel is part of a trilogy. I wrote all three books after finishing my doctoral program because I wanted to write something just for me. I had a story in my head, and I had to get it out. This young adult thriller novel is about a secret organization of teenage urban explorers. Urban explorers, also called #urbexers, are people who discover, enter, and usually photograph abandoned buildings. My characters are teens who feel they've been rejected by society; so they, in turn, gravitate to the places that have been forgotten by society. Everything turns upside down when the characters realize the group leaders have destructive end goals in mind for the organization.

WOW: Sounds amazing! A cool setting and adventure and intrigue--plus a new hashtag I'm sure many of us just learned--#urbexers. How does it feel to be releasing book one into the world?

Shelly: I'm not sure when it's going to sink in, to be honest! It still doesn't feel real. I wrote the books mostly for myself. Then, I passed them around to some family members and friends. Only after I posted them on a whim on Wattpad did I realize my stories could be enjoyed by more than my personal acquaintances! Now, I'm hoping that others, especially young people, can relate to my characters, sympathize with their struggles, and appreciate what someone who has experienced trauma has to ensure on a daily basis. If just one person takes that away from my novel, I'll be satisfied.

WOW: That's awesome! Wattpad is a great platform for many aspiring writers. You are agented by Stephanie Hansen at Metamorphosis Literary Agency. Why did you decide to go the traditional route and how did you land an agent?

Shelly: Stephanie is the best agent anyone could ask for. She's been in my corner since the very beginning, and she believes in my characters as well as my stories, which sometimes can be rather dark or weird! Another Metamorphosis agent discovered me by chance on Wattpad. They said my story had everything a "good" YA novel is supposed to include. I didn't know this when I set out to write it—I was just trying to tell a cool story. I'm still a little blown away by the whole thing.

WOW: This is an amazing story, and so cool! I love when people are jsut doing their thing and then get discovered! We know you are getting started in the publishing world, but what kind of marketing have you done before the book came out and on the book birthday?

Shelly: I had a big following on Wattpad before moving into traditional publishing. Also, I make a lot of my own graphics on Instagram. I enjoy playing with different fonts, backgrounds, and animations to bring the creepy, moody tone of my books to life. Finally, my best friend and I have a podcast! It's called The Writers XL. We are always looking for new people to profile, so come find us and tell us why you would make a great guest!

WOW: Thanks for inviting some of our readers to possibly show up on your podcast. (Link above, interested possible podcast guests) Besides writing, your bio mentions that you also are a teacher of language arts and an adjunct professor. What is it like working with both teenagers and college-age students? What do you notice about them and their writing?

Shelly: Wow, I love this question. Teenagers are often way more agreeable and open during the editing process than adults! I think adults are not used to being "taught," whereas teenagers understand they are in school to learn. Also, teaching adults has made me much more forgiving of my students and their common grammar errors because adults are often guilty of the same sins!

WOW: YES! That is so true, and I love the positive attitude you have for teeangers. We need that attitude for our teens from their leaders and teachers. So, What's next for you?

Shelly: I'm writing my fifth book titled Cabin Redemption. It is a YA psychological horror, and I'm so, so excited about it. I'm also editing my fourth book, a YA paranormal adventure titled The Nefarious Nine. Also, my two sons, my family, and I are always seeking new crazy adventures.

WOW: You sound like you have a full, wonderfully crazy, fun plate. Where can interested readers find you and your work? Website? Social media?

Shelly: Check me out in Instagram @shellyxleonn. My website is


Angela Mackintosh said...

Excellent interview, ladies! Wow, what a small world, right? That's so funny that your kids go to the same school. :)

Shelly, I absolutely love the premise of your book! I'm an urban explorer myself and love to take photos of abandoned houses in the desert. I don't read a lot of YA, but your book sounds like an awesome read, and I just added it to my list. I've heard great things about Wattpad, and your story is a dream come true. :)

I'm going to check out your podcast! Thanks for the inspiring interview, and good luck on your fourth and fifth books. :)

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