Author Zoe Aarsen made the jump from contemporary to paranormal YA a few years ago with her first story in the genre, “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.” She shared it on the online publishing platform Wattpad in 2013, and now, five years later, it’s about to be a Hulu TV series.

Though the Wattpad book and the show, the latter of which shortened its title to simply “Light as a Feather” and premieres Friday, have some differences, the overall story remains the same. A group of teen girls, joined by a newcomer, play a game of “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board” and, somehow, the made-up death stories begin to play out in real life. It’s up to the friends to figure out what’s happening and how to stop it before they all die.

Aarsen came up with the idea after having spent two years in her youth living in Salem, Massachusetts, she told International Business Times. While there, she’d played the game at a Halloween party and it seemed to work, which means it appeared the participants were actually levitating. The experience stuck with her and became the jumping off point for her first paranormal novel.

Zoe Aarsen Zoe Aarsen became a Wattpad star with her hit story, “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.” Photo: Mark Lee

“I was at work one day, thinking just in general about writing and stories and kept kind of coming back to this experience,” she told IBT. “So, it’s a horror concept that you’re playing this paranormal game, but it’s [also] such a strong theme in YA. [It’s about] when someone does something for the first time as they’re growing up and they realize, in that moment, that they’ve done something they can’t take back. Something really kind of bad…So, the story started to evolve in my head of what would’ve happened if we’d played this game and things had turned out poorly.”

Once Aarsen realized no one else had ever really used that concept before, she quickly got to work and finished writing the book in about a month. She started posting chapters to Wattpad shortly after that and, almost immediately, readers found her work. From there, it was the reads she accumulated and Wattpad’s machine-learning technology that connected her with company heads and got the adaptation process started.

“We found her through data,” Aron Levitz, Head of Wattpad Studios, told IBT. “She got a million reads of her story in under six months. And to this day, remains in the Top 25 of all-time reads in the paranormal category on Wattpad. Those brought her to attention. Never mind that half a billion minutes had been spent reading ‘Light as a Feather’ and the series. All of these data points, that are [more] than just number of reads, are what brought us to her.”

He continued: “Then you read the story and, hey, audiences are right. This is an incredibly compelling story. It’s one of the first things I read at Wattpad, and it is amazing. There's nothing like it out there.”

light feather hulu original Hulu’s “Light as a Feather” is based off of a Wattpad story by Zoe Aarsen. Photo: Rachael Thompson

The process began in 2014 and now, in 2018, fans will see the final product. Season 1 of Hulu’s “Light as a Feather” arrives on the platform Friday. While that might seem like a long time to some, Aarsen thinks “that’s actually pretty fast” for something like this. She explained that there was a lot that went into getting this made and making sure it was done right.

“It was a two-part [process] of getting all the right people on board with the project and then, really, as with anything else, just waiting for the zeitgeist to be ready for it,” the Wattpad star said. “And right now, it’s the perfect political and cultural setting for horror to be making a huge comeback. So, just really all the chips lined up for ‘Light as a Feather’ to happen this year.”

This has been a good year for Wattpad stories, in general. Beth Reekles’ Wattpad novel, “The Kissing Booth,” was adapted into a movie for Netflix earlier in 2018 and was a huge hit as soon as it released on the platform. It was the first English-language Wattpad story to become a movie, and now Aarsen’s will be the first of its kind to become a full-fledged TV show.

While the author wasn’t directly involved with the creation of the show, she thinks the cast — Liana Liberato (McKenna), Haley Ramm (Violet), Ajiona Alexus (Candace), Brianne Tju (Alex), Peyton List (Olivia), Dylan Sprayberry (Henry), Jordan Rodrigues (Trey) and Brent Rivera (Issac) — was chosen perfectly.

jordan light feather Jordan Rodrigues was cast as Trey in the Hulu show. Photo: Rachael Thompson

“I’m honestly very excited about the cast. I don’t even know where to start,” she said. “Jordan Rodrigues [is] playing Trey, who in the book is kind of like the bad boy who’s really a good boy who lives next door to the main character. I loved ‘LadyBird.’ I was so excited about that casting news. I think Brent Rivera, who’s a huge YouTube star, I think casting a YouTube star in a show of this nature, for teenagers, especially with a huge Wattpad following, was brilliant. And from the trailer, from the little snippets that I have seen, he’s so great on camera.”

She continued: “The girl that they have playing Violet, the villainess, Haley Ramm, it’s eerie. It’s like they plucked her out of my brain. That piece of casting, it’s just perfection.”

The new Hulu show, which is produced by Wattpad, AwesomenessTV and Kelsey Grammer’s Grammnet Productions, became a possibility because of the all-inclusive nature of the platform. Aarsen’s story got its start there and was then discovered by Wattpad’s data-mining capabilities. Now, the first book in the series received a mainstream publication by Simon & Schuster earlier this week, with other installments to come, and the TV adaptation premieres Friday.

“That’s what Wattpad audience and data brought,” Levitz explained. “It let us find someone like Zoe and seize opportunities [because] the audience and data said something important is happening here.”

All 10 episodes of “Light as a Feather” Season 1 hit Hulu on Friday, and the first novel in Aarsen’s series is now available to purchase.