April 8, 2013 at 9:46 AM ET
Best-selling author Beth Reeks writes about what she knows, and she knows plenty about being a teenager.
The British 17-year-old captured the universe of crushes, cliques and first kisses in her book “The Kissing Booth,” which secured her a three-book deal from Random House.
Reeks, whose pen name is Beth Reekles, wrote the book when she was only 15 and was frustrated with the reading choices available for kids her age.
“I just couldn’t find anything that appealed to me, so I thought, you now what, I’m just going to write my own book,” she told TODAY in a segment that aired Monday.
Reeks originally posted the book -- which is set in America -- on a self-publishing site, Wattpad, where it has received more than 19 million hits.
“People were saying, ‘Oh my God!’ That was kind of the point where I felt, ‘Oh my God, you guys like this!’” she said.
Soon, an editor for Random House reached out to her and turned Reeks into one of the publisher's youngest authors. The news surprised her parents, who initially had no idea she was a budding writer.
“She just disappeared up there. And after a while, as a parent, you start to be a bit concerned, what’s going on up there,” her mother told TODAY. “But after a while, she said, ‘I’m writing stories.’ Oh, OK. Well, can I read them? ‘Nope!’”
The book deal has earned Reeks enough to pay her entire college tuition. She begins school next year, and plans to study astrophysics. (Her favorite physics concept? “Quarks.”)
But until then, she’ll hang out with friends, finish household chores and do ther things typical teens do, which she said is the secret to her book's success.
“Part of it is because I'm a teenager so I'm there thinking, ‘If I had a first date with a guy, I would be so nervous and a complete wreck thinking, ‘What am I going to wear, does this look OK?’” she said.