The Wattys are back and bigger than ever. To get you ready for this year’s edition, we interviewed 2015 Watty Award winner, Ekene Ugbaja, and got his thoughts on writing, The Wattys, and being part of the Wattpad community. Ekene is a Nigerian born writer and student who’s currently based in London, England. His Watty award winning story, The 4th Estate, is a psychedelic thriller filled with gritty themes and dark undertones. To-date, it’s received over 50,000 reads on Wattpad.
Since joining Wattpad in 2014, Ekene has found a passion for writing, but this was not always the case. It took a run-in with a teacher to show him that his writing might be something audiences were after. “I had a teacher when I was doing GCSE that basically didn’t like me, thought I was noisy and disruptive...she saw me writing some stuff up and it wasn’t the class work, so she thinks that I’m sending notes and forces me to read out to the class.”
What happened next would inspire Ekene and put him on the road to becoming a Watty award winner and Wattpad featured writer. “The class didn’t take the mick, in fact, they kind of liked it. It was an awakening of sorts, and I just liked to write from there and that led some friend that I used to have to tell me that I should write on this thing called ‘Wattpad’.”
Ekene took that advice and decided to upload the The 4th Estate to Wattpad. “In a year I got incredible stats on the book, a Watty award and a great following. It felt great. At its core, it meant that as a writer I’ve got a chance and really that’s all a writer could possibly want. At the end of the day, it was a humbling feeling for me because I was just that lucky to win out of thousands. To be honest, competitions like that really help to bring out those that truly work for it.”
To new entrants, Ekene offers this advice: “It’s all down to your dedication to your craft and ability to just have simple communication skills. Don’t be afraid to personalise your queries. Quirkiness isn’t a bad thing...really that’s your main selling point, your weapon.”
That appreciation for the things that make us unique is what keeps Ekene engaged in the Wattpad community. He’s a supporter of the group Perfectly Imperfect on Wattpad and cofounder of Lemon Haze, an incubator for young writers.
With Lemon Haze, Ekene hopes to pay-forward his success and help new voices find their audience. “ It seems a little cliché but at the end of the day I just want to help other people. If connecting writers with great potential to a steady slew of reviewers and pointing out some great designers is the way that I can do that, I’ll do that.”
For many in the Wattpad community, The Wattys is a great way to connect with like minded storytellers and passionate fans. Ekene’s final thoughts on the Wattys echo our feelings: “Wattpad HQ has really done their users a big service with the creation of the Watty Awards and it’s only going to get better.”
We can't wait to see what this year's Wattys brings. If you’d like to participate in this year’s Wattys for a chance to have your story recognized by the global Wattpad community, check out our contest page - here.
Stay tuned for more interviews with Watty award winners. If you’re a media outlet that would like to learn more about the Wattys or connect with a Watty award winner, get in touch!