"Penpal" Author Dathan Auerbach: From Anonymous Reddit Poster to Published Novelist

Preparing for the Next Step: Hollywood

"It's kind of like when you go on YouTube for the hell of it and an hour later you're watching some bizarre videos. From what  producer Rich Middlemas seems to remember, that's similar to how he came across my stories on Reddit. He won an Oscar last year for a documentary called Undefeated.

"He didn't know much about Reddit, was using it because of a project he was working on. At some point, he stumbled upon my story—in the future, if the movie happens and I'm doing interviews for it, I'll make up a cooler story about how he discovered my work. But he found the original short stories, read them, and emailed me. This was after the Kickstarter but before the book debuted on Amazon. I'd ordered all of the books and I had posters and T-shirts. I was getting all of that together when I got an email from him saying how much he liked the stories.

"He found the Kickstarter, saw that the book was coming out, and I asked if I could send him a copy. I did, and a week later or so he emailed me back, said he really dug it, and we got to talking on the phone. The things that I think work for the book are what he also cared about. But his vision for it is really exciting.

"We signed an agreement shortly after that. Right now, we've got a couple really big places reading it. We're shopping it around. I don't have any experience with screenwriting. Rich is sending the actual book around, not a screenplay or anything like that. He's getting the book in front of people to find the best possible fit. We've got a ways to go, obviously, but I would've never imagined that there'd even be a process like this. Never in a million years could I have dreamed about these stories I posted on Reddit possibly becoming a real movie. The whole thing is crazy to me."

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