Am I Normal Yet? chat with author Holly Bourne
Are you normal? What is normal anyway? Our resident author, Holly Bourne, answered all your questions about her new book, Am I Normal Yet?
p>[Frances-Mai: What inspired you to write Am I Normal Yet?
Holly: We were working on a project for The Mix called Madly In Love (this website is now closed), exploring the links between mental health and relationships and I got the idea from there. The character of Evie just came to me, trying so hard to be 'normal' and annoyed that she'd got the cliched version of OCD.
Orli XD: Did you find the book more challenging to write than your others? Does that make it more special?
Holly: I would say, without a doubt, this was the hardest book I've written. And probably will ever write. Getting into Evie's head and her OCD was sooooo tricky and took a lot out of me. It *does* feel more special though, as a result. I'm so proud of this book.
WannabeLondoner14: What is normal, and who is normal?
Holly: No-one is normal! And that's what I want this book to celebrate. We all THINK everyone else is, and that they all have their sh*t together more than us, but we're all just winging it.
Emma Taylor: Are the events in your books purely inspired by 'The Mix' or have you drawn from your own adolescence?
Holly: It's a bit of both. In fact, I think more of my books come from my own adolescence than from The Mix. I'm very mindful never to 'mine' The Mix for my books, as that doesn't feel very moral! I use my work here more to shape my wider understanding of what young people are going through and how to write about it sensitively and appropriately. But I have absolutely no qualms mining my own - rather turbulent - adolescence. I was a miserable teenager. And I write the books I wish I'd had when I was growing up.
Emma Taylor: When you deal with difficult topics in your books, do you ever worry about crossing lines or causing offence?
Holly: All the time. I put the wellbeing of my readers before everything else, and I'm very mindful of triggers when I write about sensitive topics. That said, I think it's important not to be too scared. It can stifle your creativity. Sometimes my characters do or say awful things, and it's important to remember that's not ME saying it. But a character. It would be a lie to write a book where everyone behaves appropriately and is nice to one another.
Hollie: What inspired you to write a series, rather than a standalone like your previous books?
Holly: I felt like spending some time with the same characters. You get to love them so much in the process of writing a book, and, with a standalone, you have to say goodbye so quickly. However, I have a very short attention span and get very bored of my own ideas fast. So this Spinster Club trilogy is actually a trilogy of three standalone books. The idea is you'll be able to pick up the second or third one, without having to have read the first.
Jax Blunt: You've written about mental illness, would you consider writing about invisible disabilities?
Holly: I'm not entirely sure if I've read this question right, but I'd consider mental illness as being a form of invisible disability. Severe mental illness can severely restrict people's lives, and yet, from the outside, they don't look any 'different' from others. This can cause so much stigma.
name cannot be blank: How do you come up with the names of the characters in the book?
Holly: I'm really not very good at character names. I'm very blase about them, and rarely ever know their surnames. Sometimes, if I'm stuck, I google the most popular names for the year my characters are born and nab a few from there.
Angel: What is the best book you've written so far?
Holly: I love them all the same - don't make me choose! :)
jpeople111: Why did you want to become an author?
Holly: I love stories and I love telling stories. I think it's basically the best thing about being human.
apandav: Was it difficult to portray Evie's OCD whilst writing this book? If so, how did you overcome this?
Holly: I wrote Am I Normal Yet? during a very difficult year of my own life, and I think I poured a lot of that into the book. It was not easy. And I found myself, like Evie, getting very easily triggered by my surrounding environment and feeling overwhelmed. I take my own mental wellbeing very seriously, so put a lot of energy into building my own healthy coping mechanisms. I started yoga, meditation, and I stopped drinking. It helped enormously, though I know this doesn't work for everyone.
Updated on 29-Sep-2015
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