UCF Alumni Author Spotlight: Rachel Meinke ’18

Header that reads "Rachel Meinke '18 Author of Along for the Ride"

It’s book release week for UCF alumni author Rachel Meinke ’18! Her debut novel, Along for the Ride, is a young adult fiction novel published by Wattpad Books. It’s described as an addictive romance about new media stardom and first-love, perfect for fans of Beth Reekles and Jenny Han.

Rachel was kind enough to share with us the story of her publishing journey, what she’s most excited about for her first book release, and what she’s working on next. Meet Rachel Meinke ’18, author of Along for the Ride!

Share a little about yourself!

Hi! My name is Rachel. I’m 25 and graduated from UCF in August 2018 with a Bachelor’s in Sport and Exercise Science. I currently live in Central Florida with my Corgi puppy and when I’m not writing, I love going to Disney and watching endless amounts of Marvel movies.

Book Cover of Along for the Ride, a debut novel by UCF alumna

Let’s talk about Along for the Ride. Tell us about your book and what inspired you to write it.

I wrote Along for the Ride in high school, which is kind of crazy to think about. It was inspired by a conversation around the lunch table regarding fame. There was a hot debate as to whether we would want to be famous or just friends with someone who was famous. And that sparked the little thought bubble in my head, which is how Katelyn Jackson came to be.

At the time, I was also playing soccer. A lot of it. I knew I didn’t want to play soccer in college, but a part of me wasn’t ready to let it go. And so I took that part of me and gave it to Katelyn. It was such a big part of my life, and it meant so much to me to be able to watch it play out across the pages in front of me.

When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

Funny story! Earlier, I mentioned that I have a Bachelor’s in Sport and Exercise Science. For most of my life, I was convinced I was going to be a Chiropractor. Writing was always something I did for fun, a side hobby. Until I realized just how much of my life I dedicated to it. I prioritized it over my schoolwork, over social interaction, writing and developing these stories meant so much more to me than I’d given myself time to realize.

So after graduating with my Bachelor’s, I decided to take some time to give my writing a real shot. And not long after, I was signing contracts and watching opportunities unfold before me.

What’s your story of how Along for the Ride was published? What advice do you have for writers looking to publish?

It’s a very unconventional one. I think what’s great about this day and age is that there are so many avenues in which to publish. And for me, that happened through a website called Wattpad.

I started posting my stories on Wattpad in 2011. As a side hobby, I would write chapters after school and upload them for people to read. It wasn’t until my third book that my readership really took off, that I saw my numbers and followers growing. And suddenly I had a platform.

Through Wattpad, I was able to secure a publishing deal with Wattpad Books. But that didn’t come first. When working a part-time job at Disney, struggling to make ends meet and desperately searching for full-time work, I received a phone call that my story had been pitched to Erik Feig, the owner of an upstart production company by the name of Picturestart. And Erik wanted to option the movie rights to Along For The Ride.

This also happened through Wattpad, through their Wattpad Studios division. That’s the contract I signed first, hoping that one day I could be lucky enough to sign a book deal too. And six months later, that dream became a reality.

I started posting Along for the Ride on Wattpad in 2012. Right now, it sits at over 30 million reads on my profile. Through my readers’ love for my characters, I was able to catch the attention of Wattpad Studios, Erik Feig, and Wattpad Books. And I’m so incredibly grateful.

What are you most excited about for your first book release?

I cannot wait to sign the books! Having a book signing was always a dream of mine, and I’m so excited to be able to hold the book in my hands and sign my name inside.

headshot of UCF alumna Rachel Meinke

What are you working on next?

I’m currently getting my MFA in Creative Writing. I’m working on a fun project for that, by the working title written in the stars. This book touches on mental health, constellations, and has a lot of angst (my favorite).

Where can we follow you?

All of my social media is @knightsrachel. You can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, Wattpad, Snapchat, wherever the cool kids are these days, I’ll probably show up about six months later!

photo of books with text on top that reads "UCF Alumni Book Club"

UCF Alumni Book Club

You can browse listings for over 75 alumni authors on the UCF Alumni Book Club website. If you’ve published a book, let us know! Learn more about the book club and how to join.

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