Hannah Nicole Maehrer on creating the TikTok skits behind Assistant to the Villain

Hannah Nicole Maehrer chats how she turned her TikTok skits into her debut romance novel, Assistant to the Villain.


You might have already seen Hannah Nicole Maehrer’s skits about villains and assistants on TikTok. You can now enjoy this story in a book form as she turns the story that has been growing through the skits into a book called Assistant to the Villain. Today, we had the honour of inviting Hannah to chat with us about how the skits came to be and how she turned them into a book.

Assistant to the Villain was a story that creeped up on me. It feels like pieces of it were sitting in my mind, unused, for years. I had always wanted to write about villains, I thought about their depth, I thought about how they earned that title. But mostly, I thought about how I could make them laugh.
These pieces of story manifested through my video skit series on TikTok. Making people laugh and feel joy has always been a passion, but now I was incorporating my favorite way of escaping the world, books! I was constantly thinking of ways to poke fun at my favorite things in fantasy, in villains and I made countless videos inserting myself into these scenarios. In them I’d pull at the thread of what makes a fantasy story and I’d spin it; I’d make it funny. Eventually I began making “What if” situation videos and it evolved eventually into “What if I was a fantasy heroines personal assistant”. After sitting with it, I realized my love for villains could not be silenced! From there, The Assistant to the morally grey fantasy villain TikTok series was born!

I began the videos simply, I just wanted to walk around my small college town home and get the creative juices moving. Most of the skits were improved so often I would just turn on my camera and see what came out of my mouth, I’d often surprise myself actually! At the beginning the skits were surface level. The assistant was oblivious to the villain’s feelings for her and to the fact that people that don’t treat her well, suddenly disappear. I was obsessed with the romance, with the slow burn between them, until eventually the assistant persona felt like a character. A hat to put on days when I didn’t feel like myself and wanted to be somewhere else. Making the skits felt like reading my favorite book, a book that wasn’t written yet.

Nothing about it was complicated (my favorite part). All I needed was my phone, a door to knock on, and a burst of imagination. It was unlocking a different level of creativity because the skits eventually stopped being a funny bit of escapism, they became a story. A long running over 200 posts dedicated to it, story. It had completely taken over my brain, the characters that I introduced became tangible with every video, we knew more about them. The funny part of this being of course, that it was only me you’re seeing on camera. I had essentially formed a dialogue within the skits that implied how the character “off screen” was responding, which paved the way for the book to be written.

After months of doing the skits and dedicating so much time to the story, I realized this was the story I was always meant to tell. It contained all my favorite things! Villains, humor, fairytales, a cast of quirky characters who are trying to figure things out just like the rest of us. Because of the skits so much story was already built in my mind, everything that I had wanted to elaborate on or build upon in the skits, I was able to do it in the book. Every “response” I had imagined the other characters would respond to the assistant; I was finally able to put it all to paper. All the of screen characters, I finally got to meet when I put them to page, but one would not exist without the other.

The skits will always be where this story was born, where it evolved, where it became real, where I fell in love. The skits allowed me so much creativity and so much fun, and the book will always be a branch of that feeling.

Assistant to the Villain by Hannah Nicole Maehrer is out on 14th September (Penguin, £8.99)
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