What inspired you to write your own book?
Since I could read I always had my nose in a book. When I was around the age of 14 I had my mind set on the fact that I would one day write my own book, something that other people would love to read. I love the story of Girl Online and hopefully everyone else will too!
How did you find the experience?
It’s taken quite a long time, and there’s been lots of two-ing and fro-ing. Deciding the plot, the storyline and the characters all take a lot of time and as I’m such a perfectionist I wanted to make sure it was just right.
Do you recognise any parts of yourself in lead character Penny?
I wanted my lead character to have a lot of similarities to me so that I could know and understand her life inside and out when putting it on the page. We have a lot in common, she’s a blogger, lives in Brighton and also suffers from anxiety. My own personal experiences have really helped shape who Penny is and her story. However, she is a fictional character and of course a lot of what happens to her comes from my imagination
When you first started your Zoella blog over 5 years ago, did you ever expect that it could lead to a career as an author?
When I started writing my blog in 2009 I would never have imagined it would bring me the opportunity to make my teenage dream to be a published author, come true. Of course, doing the blog was a great way to develop my writing skills.
What did you think of the Girl Online cover when you first saw it?
I think the cover looks amazing, I LOVE IT. We ran a little competition on my blog a while back to find one of the polaroid-style snaps featured on the front cover. I was absolutely thrilled at how many people entered. There were so many lovely pictures; it was hard to pick a winner!
Cyber bullying and anxiety are key issues for Penny in Girl Online – why did you decide to explore this is your book?
I really wanted to share my personal experience with anxiety through Penny because I felt it could help others to speak out about it. When I was younger and suffering with anxiety I didn’t know what was happening or have anyone to talk to about it. It helps to have these conversations, to feel less alone and to share advice. Cyber bullying is another issue I feel passionate about addressing as this is something I have also unfortunately experienced. I’ve had comments about being too skinny, that I pretend to suffer from anxiety to boost my subscriber figurers, all sorts of horrible things to make me feel rubbish.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young writers?
I think the main thing I would say is to be passionate about the things you write about and to never give up. If what you are writing about makes you happy, it will make others happy too. I also found writing a blog a great creative outlet!
Do you think Penny is a character that your fans will find easy to relate to?
I think that my viewers will definitely be able to relate to Penny. She experiences many things that I know first-hand that many of them have experienced or asked my advice on. Things like bullying, falling out with friends, boys & anxiety. Penny is a great example of a teenager who experiences many of the same things that other teenagers have to deal with and that was really important to me.
Penny and her family take a trip to New York in the book, would you ever consider moving abroad?
I definitely don’t think I’d ever move abroad but I do love travelling a lot.
What sort of books do you enjoy, and who is your favourite author?
I absolutely love chick lit books as I find them an easy and fun read. A few of my favourite authors are Sophie Kinsella & Lindsey Kelk. I also LOVED ‘The Fault in our Stars’ by John Green more recently too.
Which authors did you like to read as a child?