Author: Joanna Olney

Spinster Sunday


One of the most amazing things about Am I Normal Yet? and How Hard Can Love Be? is seeing fans – readers, bloggers and vloggers – forming their own Spinster Clubs.

One of the most recent comes from Emma of Never Judge a Book By its Cover (a fantastic book blog you should definitely check out). Emma has created a brilliant Tumblr @the-spinster-club for readers “who adored [Am I Normal Yet?], are feminist or a new feminist like myself, who wants to own who
they are and be an individual.”
  You can look forward to posts about the Normal series, quotes, discussions
agendas and there is talk of a Feminist Street Team too. We LOVE the sound of that. Check in with Emma over at The Spinster Club for more.

Speaking of all things Spinster, today Holly is up in Lytham St Anne’s headlining Spinster Sunday. Hosted by Storytellers Inc, it’s an afternoon of events to
celebrate friendship, feminism and frankly brilliant books. This empowering
afternoon is sure to pass the Bechdel test with a fantastic line-up of current
teen/YA authors including Non Pratt, Keris Stainton, Sara Barnard, Natasha Farrant and Jenny Maclachan. More on this next week!

Go Spinsters!

WIN a Holly Bourne tote bag full of goodies with Thameslink


celebrate HOW HARD CAN LOVE BE? being chosen as Thameslink’s Book of the Month, they are giving away tote bags
full of Holly’s books plus exclusive SWAG!

Head over to the Thameslink Facebook page to enter

Good Luck!

Holly Bourne: Top 3 Novels on Mental Health

Find the three books that Holly feels tackle mental health issues perfectly over on the WHSmith blog today

Meet Holly Bourne on the How Hard Can Love Be? tour

To celebrate the release of How Hard Can Love Be? Holly will be touring the UK and Ireland and she wants to meet YOU.

All public events are listed here, with more to be added soon, so stay tuned!

SPINSTER SUNDAY with Holly Bourne

Sunday 7th February, from 1pm at St Annes Place, Lytham St Annes

An afternoon of events to
celebrate friendship, feminism and frankly brilliant books. Hosted by Storytellers Inc this empowering
afternoon is sure to pass the Bechdel test with a fantastic line-up of current
teen/YA authors including Non Pratt, Keris Stainton, Sara Barnard, Natasha Farrant and Jenny Maclachan.


Thursday 11th February, 6pm at Easons O’Connell Street, Dublin

Join Holly for an evening of book chat, a reading and Q&A plus lots of other fun activities.

There will be CHEESY WOTSITS!


Tuesday 23rd February, 7pm at Drink, Shop, Do, London

Join Holly, fellow Usborne author Kathryn Evans, Eve Ainsworth and Nicci Cloke for readings, cocktails, an utterly ridiculous short story challenge and book signings.

Tickets are free – book your place via Eventbrite.


Wednesday 2nd March, 6pm at Stratford East Picturehouse, London

Join Holly, Juno Dawson and Sara Barnard for an awesome night of books, writing and creativity at World
Book Day’s first ever live premiere for teens.

Hosted by performance poet, author and playwright LEMN SISSAY. 

Tickets £3 (available via the Picturehouse website)


Sunday 6th March

Stay tuned for more on this soon!


Saturday 2nd April, 5pm

Three of the very best writers for YA, Sarah Crossan, Sita
Brahmachari and Holly Bourne join forces for a session guaranteed to
entertain, to inspire, and to provoke debate and laughter.

Tickets are available via the festival’s website.

How Hard Can Love Be? chosen for commuter book club – Books on the Go


Hurray! How Hard Can Love Be? has been chosen for the commuter book club Books on the Go as its February read.

Keep your eyes peeled if you travel on a Great Northern or Thameslink train for lots of Holly Bourne love!

Find out all about the book club and for the chance to WIN A HOLIDAY to Budapest and get a super snazzy money-off-the-book voucher visit the Thameslink website.

It’s day 2 of #14DaysofLove and we have something very special for you. Here’s a little YouTube treat in the shape of a Quickfire Q&A with Holly. We asked you for your questions and Holly answered them.

We love it – and hope you do too!

How Hard Can Love Be? is out TODAY!

So, you know how Amber was always OFF ON ONE in Am I Normal Yet? about the other spinster club girls and their boy troubles? Well, I decided it would be fun if Miss Cynic fell in love. Hard.

I can’t believe How Hard Can Love Be? is out TODAY. I hope you love Amber’s journey as much as I do. Here’s to nice boys who call themselves feminists, Dumbledore’s Army, rainbows, and American roadtrips. See you at Summer Camp!

To celebrate the launch of How Hard Can Love Be? we will be hosting #14DaysofLove – a celebration
of love in all its forms – from first love to friendships to family. Keep an eye out for exclusive videos, competitions and more! Join in with #14daysoflove and #HHCLB.

Feminism in YA panel – Waterstones Piccadilly

So last night something amazing happened. This…

Standing-room only for a talk about feminism in Waterstones flagship store in London Piccadilly, and I was lucky enough to be a part of it.

Anna James, Holly Smale, CJ Daugherty and I spend a lot of our spare time bemoaning the patriarchy. So we thought we’d add in an audience and see if people were interested. You. Are. Interested. It was a magical, empowering, inspiring evening and I love how many kick-ass feminists came to listen. Here are my best bits.

  • My left boob had a lot to say. Before we’d even started, we turned on the mikes and mine deafened the room with extremely loud interference. I didn’t know my left boob had so much to say about the patriarchy, or that it was so impatient to do so. But the evening started with me having to apologise to a room full of packed people for my angry boob and that basically set up the mood for the rest of the evening.
  • Holly Smale’s feminism omelette. Holly S made some great points about how different authors are ‘breaking eggs into the feminism omelette’ in different ways. It was SUCH an important point to make on how we class a book ‘feminist’ or not. Yes, Geek Girl has modelling in it but it has SUCH a strong message of empowerment and being true to yourself. As Holly S said, female characters don’t have to “shoot a squirrel through an eye at 20 metres” to be feminist.
  • When CJ kept giving me goosebumps, so much so that I had to clutch her. She talked about Allie’s journey in Night School and how she went from always being the girl who’s rescued, to rescuing herself. I got all emotional and just sort of grabbed at her and she was awfully nice about it.
  • Anna’s insightful comments about pubic hair. And how she’s noticed it’s only ever male writers who write descriptions of women’s pubic hair in sex scenes. Particularly ‘the historical novels and the blossoming bushes’. You can NEVER UNSEE this now.
  • The fact that I wasn’t politely asked to leave. I mean, I at one-point went ‘off-piste’ and started imagining aloud Katniss dripping period blood onto The Careers when she was stuck up that tree. And then I lost my temper and got…rather animated when a question came up about men who feel using the word ‘feminist’ emasculates them. I yelled the word “BALLS” a lot, and at some point screeched “I’M THE ANGRY FEMINIST MONSTER OF YOUR NIGHTMARES” and yet nobody told me to get in the sea, so thanks for that.

The amazing people who came. You asked insightful and challenging questions – about intersectional feminism and your concerns for the future of feminism. You told us of your own feminist battles. You were empowered and enlightened and just…ON-IT and I feel so positive about the future of feminism with a room full of people like you. So thank you so much for coming!


Heroines come in all shapes and sizes, right?


Editorial director Rebecca Hill has finally found a heroine to identify with in How Hard Can Love Be?…

Ball and hoop shooting wasn’t really a thing in 1980s Essex, but if it had been then my chosen career should have been to play basketball. Yes, I’m one of those gangly girls, who were always told as a child to “stop stooping”. That feeling of towering over most of my classmates, including a lot of “hot” boys, has never left me, and nowadays I rarely buy shoes that have a heel for fear of looking like the Incredible Hulk. Fear, I guess, of not being a “proper girl”.

Yes, I know, Cognitive Dissonance. Where’s Lottie when you need her?

But here’s the thing: heroines are often presented with “heart-shaped” faces, or “snub” noses, and they nearly always have “normal” height traits. Traits that mark them out as “beautiful”. What my 5ft 10″ teen self really wanted was a heroine like me – tall… Someone who was real and relatable…

At last, then, I have a tall heroine. She’s scrunched up in a tiny airplane seat and hungover when we first meet, but Holly Bourne shows that heroines come in all shapes and sizes and some of them are tall. And, do you know what, that’s okay. More than okay, that’s just normal. So let me introduce you to that heroine. Her name is Amber:


Find out where Amber’s journey takes her in How Hard Can Love Be?  Out 1st February.


Everybody LOVES Holly Bourne!


With just one week to go before publication of Holly Bourne’s How Hard Can Love Be? we thought we’d share this rather lovely email we received from Minna Watson, a buyer at Magrudy’s bookshop in Dubai

We sent her Am I Normal Yet? and How Hard Can Love
to read. She sent us the following email…

“Well, Holly Bourne has a lot to answer for in the Watson household… She is solely responsible for my children eating cheese and beans on toast last night as I couldn’t put her books down
to prepare dinner :). Also for the dark circles under my eyes as I read
through the night….and am now in deep depression as the books are finished
and I have to let Evie and Amber live their lives without my involvement
🙁   (When oh when can I immerse myself in Lottie’s life??!!!  –
Please Holly put me out of my misery!!!!)

Am I Normal Yet? struck a personal note
as I have a niece with OCD and it is a terrifying illness that affects not just
the person who has it, but everyone around them. It is not a funny
illness, but Holly still manages to make you laugh out loud whilst really
feeling for Evie who just wants to be ‘normal’ (whatever that means!). It
is hard enough being a teenage girl with boys and friendships to
deal with without suffering a mental illness on top! I completely fell in
love with Evie and am pretty sure we have dated the same guys :). Thank
Goodness for Lottie and Amber; girls, don’t we all just long to be in The
Spinster Club? I know I do!!!! This book has such positive messages for young women and I will be making sure my daughter reads it!

How Hard Can Love Be? Well, very
hard is what every woman will cry (and probably most men) but how wonderful is
it too! Once again, Holly has made me fall in love with all of her
characters. My heart is broken for Amber who just wants her Mum to make
HER the priority in her life and not bumchin Kevin (what a wonderful image that
evokes!). If only her Dad could notice her, instead of her
(terrifyingly) awful step brother (Damien incarnate!). This book is
with depth and I absolutely loved it. How can you not love a
Winnie-the-Pooh-Tao enthusiast? Or Russ (who made me remember why I am always
going to be in Team Jacob!)? And don’t even get me started with Kyle… I am completely
besotted with him :). He is so right – we do always love the bad guy, so how
hard must it be to be the good guy? 🙂

Girl power has a new voice, and Holly, we
just want to hear more of it :).”

*hugs and squeals* Thank you so, SO, much, Minna, for your gorgeous email. If you love Holly Bourne too, please tell us – and let’s spread the love!