Author: Joanna Olney

The inspiration for HOW HARD CAN LOVE BE?


The second book in Holly Bourne’s Normal series, the follow-up to Am I Normal Yet?, launches in just over a week – get excited, people! Because Amber’s story – How Hard Can Love Be? – is a stunner. We asked the incredible Holly Bourne to explain how the mysterious workings of her mind led to Amber leaving Evie and Lottie behind and jetting off to California…

“America is a very important part of my life, so it was only a matter of time before it seeped into my books. When I was the age of a YA character, I spent two summers staying just outside Yosemite National Park with my late aunt, Connie. A lot of the people and places from these summers litter the pages of How Hard Can Love Be?

Let’s face it – the boys in Am I Normal Yet? were mostly b-to-the-ell-ends. And, as this is a feminism trilogy and feminism is NOT about hating men, I thought it was important to have a healthy romance in there with a NICE boy. Because such things do exist!

Amber is everything America isn’t – pessimistic, understated, sarcastic… So the evil writer in me thought, Brilliant, let’s shove her into The States. She’s going to HATE it! I’ve had so much fun writing her reactions to the USA, and showing how it slowly wears her down and she starts to see the merit in being…happy, I guess.

How Hard Can Love Be? is also a bit of a feminist analysis of typical romantic teen set-ups. I want my readers to think about some of the cliches we see in these stories – the evil-but-pretty bitch, the absent parents, the potential romanticisation of abuse. The book has conversations about these issues, gives them words, or tries to turn them on their head.

But what’s a teen love story without a Prom King? Readers – you’re about to meet Kyle… and you’re going to fall for him. Hard.”

How Hard Can Love Be? is out on 1st February.

How Hard Can Love Be? is here!




There are so gorgeous and BRIGHT and amazing. And they are out on Feb 1st! And, if that’s not exciting enough, the first edition of these babies have EXCLUSIVE content. So get your grabby grab-hands out!

I so hope you love Amber’s story as much as I do. It’s much more soppy than Am I Normal Yet? Because not all boys are sex maniacs and/or general ballsacks like Ethan and Guy. 🙂 


Do tweet me your photos and feedback once you get your copies. Spinster Club forever!

The Holly (Bourne) and the Ivy…


If your Christmas present took the shape of a new e-reader or mobile
device, we’ve got just the thing to get your reading kick-started!

What would happen if soulmates actually existed?

How far would you go to make yourself popular?

And what on earth does being “normal” mean?

To celebrate the joy of reading this Christmas, Holly Bourne’s Soulmates, The Manifesto on How to be Interesting and Am I Normal Yet? are all just 99p on ebook.


* Download SOULMATES from Apple iBooks, Googleplay and AmazonKindle here.

* Download THE MANIFESTO ON HOW TO BE INTERESTING from Apple iBooks, Googleplay and AmazonKindle here.

* Download AM I NORMAL YET? from Apple iBooks, Googleplay and Amazon Kindle here.

And you can also pre-order the next title in the “Normal” series, How Hard Can Love Be? which will be hitting the (physical and digital) shelves in February! We can’t wait! 

* Pre-order HOW HARD CAN LOVE BE? from Apple iBooks and AmazonKindle here.

Merry Boxing day, everyone!


So today was my last day working as an editor for I’ve been working at the charity for FIVE YEARS and I cannot
believe how much things have changed since then. I started as a junior
journalist, writing a book called Soulmates on my commute in…and my oh my where
things have gone from there. is an incredible place for young people. It
gives advice and support about every single problem you can possibly imagine
growing up. And, to mark the end of my time here, I’m sharing the work I did
there that I’m most proud of.

Porn vs Reality

Porn is an unavoidable part of young people’s lives and you
see the consequences of it when you work at a youth charity. From boys worrying
their penises are too small or they’re struggling to get turned on by ‘real’
girls– to girls feeling pressured into doing sexual acts they’re not ready for,
or feeling like their boobs aren’t big enough. Combine that with a lack of sex
and relationship education at school and…well… quite frankly it’s a mess.

So, I wrote the script for this video ‘Porn Vs Reality’. The
video went viral within a day of upload and is now a recommended teaching
resource for secondary school students. This video also made the front-page of
a right-wing newspaper who declared it the death of humanity. Note: This usually means you’ve made A Good Thing 🙂

My vagina looks like
a turkey

It’s a truth not-very-universally acknowledged that girls
worry their vaginas look like turkeys. In fact, not a day goes by at TheSite
where we don’t hear from someone worrying their vaginal lips are too big and
flappy (thanks again, porn!) It got to such epidemic levels, that I managed to
convince Vlogging GODDESS Hannah Witton to put a turkey hat on and set things

Panic Attack Monster

TheSite is such an incredible resource for anyone
experiencing mental health problems. I learned so much and it fed into my books
so much – particularly self-harm and anxiety disorders. We also did an amazing
project on Anxiety and Depression funded by Comic Relief, that ended in our
Panic Monster campaign – aiming to raise awareness and reduce stigma of panic attacks. 

Embarrassing bodies

Bodies don’t behave. And young people are more likely to
google their…unusual symptoms than ask friends. So I have spent the best part
of five years writing about smelly willies, hairy nipples, missing periods,
swollen ballsacks, tight foreskins, and ingrown bikini hairs. I’d like to thank
the amazing Dr Ranj, who was always happy to offer some medical insight about
all these – usually during an explicit phonecall before 10am.

A real highlight for me was getting shortlisted as Sexual
Health Journalist of the Year for my article about condom-related erectile dysfunction
(otherwise known as ‘The Condom Flop). Photo of the Editorial Team at the Sexual Health Awards with Dr Ranj below. 

So, what next?

It’s been the most incredible five years. Working at TheSite
has – without a doubt – made me a better writer, and mostly just a better
person. My colleagues have been amazing and inspiring and I’ve enjoyed every moment of my time here. But the Spinster Club trilogy is getting so
exciting that I really don’t have the time to spin both my TheSite plate and my
authoring plate anymore. But I hope to continue working with them ad-hoc, both
as a writer and as a relationship advisor. And leaving is giving me time to write
A Very Exciting New Book 

So goodbye TheSite! It’s going to continue to be such a huge support for young people, long after I’ve left. Growing up isn’t always easy, but this website really does help. 

Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne


In August, we launched the first book in Holly Bourne’s new “Normal” series – Am I Normal Yet? 

All Evie wants is to be normal, and now that she’s almost off her meds and at a new college where no one knows her as the-girl-who-went-nuts, Evie’s decided that she’s ready to make friends again…and maybe even dip her toe into the dating pool.

What follows is the brilliant, honest, sometimes painful, sometimes funny, eye-opening, heart-wrenching and life-affirming story of Evie as she tackles the idea of “normal”. With a revealing look at OCD, and the introduction of the “Spinster Club” – the grassroots feminism society that Evie starts with her two new friends, Lottie and Amber – this is a book that will tackle your perceptions,  question what “normality” means…and make you giggle while it does it.

With the second book in the series, How Hard Can Love Be? due out in February, we can only suggest that you put down whatever you’re doing and rush out immediately to find a copy of Am I Normal Yet?

Am I Normal Yet? has also been chosen as a World Book Night book for 2016! You can read more about it here.

Wishing you a very merry normal Christmas


December is here, hooray! So to celebrate the beginning of the festive season we’re giving you 5 chances to win a signed limited edition of Am I Normal Yet? and a wrapped copy to gift to a friend!

Everyday this week you’ll have the chance to win – starting today! Head over to Holly’s Twitter to enter. All you have to do is Retweet!

Then be sure to follow these lovely lot for more chances to win:

Tuesday 1st December: @maximumpopbooks

Wednesday 2nd December: @MileLongBookS

Thursday 3rd December: @usbornepublishing

Friday 4th December: Books Are My Bag Live Twitter Chat from 7pm

Holly will be doing a live Twitter chat over at @BooksAreMyBag – it’s your LAST CHANCE to win so make sure your ready and logged in at 7pm!

Good luck and Happy Christmas!

World Book Night 2016

I’m so excited to announce that Am I Normal Yet? has been selected for World Book Night 2016! OMFG GUYS OMFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFG! I AM SO EXCITED I WANT TO GO BUY A GOLDEN TOP HAT!

World Book Night is an annual celebration of reading that takes place on Saturday 23 April. It sees passionate volunteers give out hundreds of thousands of books in their communities to share their love of reading with people who don’t read regularly or own books.

This year, there are 15 books on
the World Book Night list – with Am I Normal Yet? featuring alongside works from amazing authors and poets including Carol Ann Duffy, Matt Haig, Jonathan Coe and Sarah Hilary.

To see the full list of books and to find out more about how and when you can volunteer go to


Exclusive How Hard Can Love Be? proofs are IN


Hang on a second….


Look, just LOOK at what arrived today!! 

It’s only one of the special limited-edition proofs of HOW HARD CAN LOVE BE? with its exclusive anti-Valentine’s Day DOUBLE FRONT COVER?! 

These should be tumbling their way out of the Usborne office into the hands of lucky bloggers and reviewers and competition winners soon! Keep an eye out on my Twitter if you want to get your hands on one. But, if you can’t get one, FRET NOT. Because these proofs won’t have AMBER’S ARTWORK inside, starting each chapter. The finished copies will. I’ve had a sneaky peek at the artwork and it is STONKINGLY beautiful. Plus, the first print-run is going to have exclusive content too. So there is SO MUCH to look forward to which is why I am so CAPS-LOCK this morning. 

Here’s a peek at the inside cover of the DOUBLE FRONT COVER…

Read an exclusive extract from Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne at