Author: Joanna Olney

OCD Awareness Week


Hello! We’ve hijacked Holly’s tumblr today for OCD Awareness Week, a global campaign to promote
awareness and understanding of OCD. We wanted to share an exclusive extract with you from Am I Normal Yet? – it’s one that definitely made us think about the language of mental health, as well as the many misconceptions of OCD. We’ve asked Holly to introduce it: 

“I’ve been blown away by how one section of Am I Normal Yet? has resonated with my readers. It’s Evie’s rant about how we use the language of mental health. So, to celebrate #OCDAwarenessWeek, here’s the extract. Let’s try and stamp this language out. As Evie, and so many others of you out there know, OCD is not being neat and tidy!

– Holly x”


I don’t really “get” angry. If I’m going to be emotional, I do
sad. Crying. Not swearing and yelling and punching walls.
Apart from about this.
Sarah once told me about the “dark ages” of public
awareness, where people didn’t really know much about
mental health problems. And what they did know was
mostly wrong. There was loads of MISINFORMATION and
STIGMA and it was really terrible and everyone suffered in
silence for ages, not knowing what was wrong, and not
seeking help because they didn’t understand what their
brain was doing to them and why.
But then we decided we needed to CHANGE THE WAY
WE THINK about mental illness. Huge awareness campaigns
were set up. A few soaps gave their characters depression
and whatnot, following each episode with a voiceover saying,
“If you’ve been upset by anything seen on this programme,
go to this website and yadda yadda yadda.” Slowly, but surely,
mental health eked its way into the public consciousness.
People began to learn the names of conditions. People began
to understand the symptoms. People began to say the oh-soimportant
phrase “it’s not their fault”. There was SYMPATHY and UNDERSTANDING. Even some politicians and celebs
came out, as it were, and told national newspapers about
their own suicide attempts or whatever.
We couldn’t stop there, could we?

I can say, with some confidence, that it’s gone too far the
other way. Because now mental health disorders have gone
“mainstream”. And for all the good it’s brought people like
me who have been given therapy and stuff, there’s a lot of
bad it’s brought too.
Because now people use the phrase OCD to describe
minor personality quirks. “Oooh, I like my pens in a line,
I’m so OCD.”
“Oh my God, I was so nervous about that presentation,
I literally had a panic attack.”
“I’m so hormonal today. I just feel totally bipolar.”
Told you I got angry.
These words – words like OCD and bipolar – are not
words to use lightly. And yet now they’re everywhere. There
are TV programmes that actually pun on them. People smile
and use them, proud of themselves for learning them, like
they should get a sticker or something. Not realizing that if
those words are said to you by a medical health professional,
as a diagnosis of something you’ll probably have for ever,
they’re words you don’t appreciate being misused every single
day by someone who likes to keep their house quite clean.

People actually die of bipolar, you know? They jump in
front of trains and tip down bottles of paracetamol and
leave letters behind to their devastated families because
their bullying brains just won’t let them be for five minutes
and they can’t bear to live with that any more.
People also die of cancer.
You don’t hear people going around saying: “Oh my God,
my headache is so, like, tumoury today.”
Yet it’s apparently okay to make light of the language of
people’s internal hell. And it makes me hate people because
I really don’t think they get it.
“Oh, you have OCD. That’s the thing where you like to
wash your hands a lot, right?”
It annoys me that I’ve got the most clichéd “version” of
OCD. The stereotypical one. But it’s not like I chose it. And,
yes, I do like to wash my hands a lot. Or did. Well, I still
want to, every second of the day, but I don’t. But I also lost
two stone because I refused to eat anything in case it
contaminated me and I died. And I have a brain on a
permanent loop of bad thoughts that I cannot escape so I’m
technically imprisoned in my own mind. And I once didn’t
leave the house for eight weeks.
That is not just liking to wash your hands.
No, you don’t have OCD too.
If you had OCD, you wouldn’t tell people about it.
Because, quite simply, despite all this good work, some
people Still. Don’t. Get. It.

EXCLUSIVE EXTRACT taken from Am I Normal Yet? by Holly Bourne.

Save our NHS

This is a bit of a serious post today. But, last night, I got this rather-desperate message from my university housemate. She’s a junior doctor (and she’s AMAZING – honestly, the amount of times she patched us up at uni) and, quite simply, everything she loves and cares about her job, her life, and the NHS, is being decimated by our government. 

So, if you want Bree to have been adequately looked after when she was in hospital. If you want Evie to know that care *is* there if she has another relapse. Or if you want all the real people in your life to be looked after when they’re sick, please do take the time to read this and sign the petitions. 

Thanks, you wonderful, lovely, spinsters you. 


I hope that you will put up with me having my five minute
post-night shift rant & take a minute to read this. I’m writing because in
the last few months those of us working in the NHS have become increasingly
worried about its future. We discuss it constantly at work, but we’re
disappointed by the poor press attention that the new NHS changes are getting
& it’s important to me that I feel like I‘ve done my small bit to get the
message out there.

I think this is something that has been going on for a while,
but I was completely oblivious to new what was going on until the government
announced that they are going to impose unfair and unsafe contract changes on
all junior doctors. At the same time as this there was also a quiet move to opt
out of the European Working Time Directive and also restrict strike action in
the public sector.

At this time, those of us in the NHS started to finally pay
attention to what was happening. We have had meetings and thousands of us have
begun to protest and will soon be considering strike action. I know that this
is a difficult topic. Emergency care will still be provided and our Consultant
colleagues, who we appear to have the support of, will work on the wards to
make sure that patients do not come to harm, but I wanted to just write a
couple of paragraphs about why the British Medical Association is balloting us
to do this, because when this day comes we need as much support as possible.

The term junior doctor applies to anybody from day one after
medical school to the day before becoming a consultant or qualified GP- this
will be a minimum of 5 years , but for most of us will be in excess of 10
years. We are currently protected by the European Working Time Directive. This
means that our average weekly hours are limited to 48, with a maximum of 91
hours in a consecutive seven day period. This protects us from going back to
the days when Doctors worked 24 hour on-calls. It’s stating the obvious but
research has shown that over-worked, tired Doctors make mistakes. After all,
would you want your relative being operated on by a Surgeon who was in their
14th hour of work, or put to sleep by an anaesthetist who had been on call for
24 hours? Opting out of the EWTD would mean that we lose our safeguards that
protect us from these shift patterns, Jeremy Hunt has already stated that in an
11 hour shift we should only be entitled to one twenty-minute break.

We would also suffer a significant pay-cut, the details are
not clear yet, but estimates would suggest that people with high out-of-hours
commitments (I currently work one in three weekends either days or nights, a
week of nights every six weeks and an on-call 13 hour day every six days) could
lose between 15-30% of our salary, as normal working hours will be reclassified
as 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday. Just as a side note, we do not get paid if we
cannot leave work on time due to sick patients and extra pairs of hand being
needed to ensure that they get proper care. In the jobs I have done so far, I
have regularly worked anything from 1-5 unpaid hours per day. I revise around
three hours per night for three months leading up to each of the six exams I
will have to take. This year I will also pay around £3500 (not refunded) in
registration, medical indemnity and union fees, exams and courses. I will move
hospital around Merseyside between every 3 and 12 months, I get no choice about
where. I work Christmas, miss friends weddings and reunions, miss my familys
birthdays. I am the same as every other junior doctor out there, we are all in
a similar situation- we work the same hours and have the same extra commitments
necessary for us to do our jobs to the best of our abilities.

The reason I’m telling you all this is because I love my job.
I wouldn’t change it for the world, I couldn’t think of a bigger privilege than
what I do day-to day and I would never have even thought of telling you all
this unless everything that we work for as junior doctors was being threatened.
We are being completely devalued and demoralised, treated like an easily
replaceable workforce and presented as lazy, money-grabbing ‘juniors’ who
shouldn’t complain because we went into medicine as a vocation. We want to take
action against these changes, which are both unfair and more importantly unsafe.

However, to make sense of all of this you have to put it in
perspective. The government are privatising enormous chunks of our NHS, 70% of
NHS services between April 2013-2014 were awarded to the private sector. 77 MPs
currently sit on the boards of firms that bid to run NHS services, they will
directly profit from privatisation of our NHS. The most expensive cost in the
NHS is its staff. Junior doctors are just the first in a long line of cuts, if
we lost this fight it will be nurses and physios and hospital porters next. A
cheaper workforce is a more attractive bid for companies lining up to profit
from running hospital services. Our NHS is not perfect, but privatisation is
not the answer. We measure our success in terms of patients, private companies
measure success in terms of profits- this will mean pay cuts, staff cuts,
increased pressure on those left to manage struggling wards and a demotivated
and demoralised workforce. Just look at what happened to Hinchinbrook Hospital,
the first privately run hospital, where the company pulled out of its contract
after only 3 years, leaving the Hospital in special measures. Is this where we
want our friends and relatives cared for?

The NHS is unbelievably important, most of us were born
there, it looks after our families and friends when they are sick, it looks
after the vulnerable and the elderly. It’s one of the best health services in
the world and spending on healthcare per person is also one of the lowest in
the world. Your level of care if the same regardless your wealth. This is so
precious that we cannot afford to put our NHS in the hands of companies who put
profit in front of patient care. We cannot afford to let our NHS go.

If you have read this far I am enormously grateful to you. If
you want to find out more, there is plenty posted to my facebook page and
plenty online that makes interesting reading. There are petitions against
back-door privatisation of the NHS and for the doctors strike on 38 degrees,
the daily express, the guardian etc and if you agree with any of what I have
written then I’d be really grateful if you would take the time to sign these,
it’s so important that people are behind this and supporting us. Please talk
about this with your friends and family so the news about what is going on is
spread. If you feel so inclined, please feel free to email your MP with a
couple of lines to show your support, they need to be inundated to realise how
important this is. Share this with whoever you like if you want to.

As Aneurin Bevan, who spearheaded the development of our NHS
said “The NHS will last as long as there are folk left with the faith to fight
for it.“

I’m going on tour!

Hey everyone

It’s that time of year again. I’m COMING TO SEE YOU. Well…I’m putting myself in various locations around the UK, in case you want to come met me. Here’s my upcoming whereabouts, I can’t wait to see y’all (not sure why I’ve gone Southern American all of a sudden)

Southbank YA Weekender, Saturday 3rd October 


Daunt’s YA Bookclub, Tuesday 6th October 

I’m going to be launching their YA book club, in fancy Chelsea no less. 

Dept Con, Dublin, Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th October

I’m going to Dublin, I am so, so SO excited. And I’m doing THREE events there. Dublin, prepare to be SICK of me 

YA Shot, Wednesday 28th October

This incredible day essentially allows you to meet every single brilliant YA author from the UK. It’s going to be epic. I’m on a panel about trigger warnings and writing about ‘issues’

That’s just October folks, I’ve got more things planned in November too. See you soon!

Introducing Usborne Fiction Editorial Director, Rebecca Hill



I’m Rebecca
Hill and I’m Fiction Editorial Director at Usborne. I’m a bookish girl whose
defining life moment was being escorted from the children’s department of my
local library, past the librarian’s desk,
into the adult section covering “B” and being handed Judy Blume’s Forever. My
future was shaped.

Flash forward to today, and my
whole day involves books in some shape or form.
This can be anything from reading
manuscripts to finding our next acquisition, editing early drafts, discussing
projects with authors, seeing how designers are bringing book covers to life,
glimpsing first rough illustrations, talking to Marketing
and Publicity about how we can make sure our
books are found by the public, and meeting
booksellers who are as passionate as us about making sure good books find the
right home. The other fascinating part of my job is the business side of books:
printing costs, sales and contracts will
inevitably form some part of my day. And then, of course, there are my emails…

But, if I had to sum up my day –
or what I do – in a sentence, I’d say that my job is mostly about trusting my
instinct. About knowing what makes a good book – a book that I believe will
make readers want to drop everything to read it. And having children myself
now, seeing them pick up a book, turn the page, enjoy each word, each image,
has made me realize just how big my debt is to Judy Blume and to that
librarian all those years ago. They knew exactly when and what to feed my
imagination, and I couldn’t be happier about where it has taken me.

For more Usborne YA Shelfie goodness, follow me on Twitter @rebeccashill

This is my editor, Rebecca. My books would be NOTHING without this woman. Go follow her 🙂 🙂 

What it’s about

So I was very, hugely chuffed when my close friends, Ruth and Dave, asked me to write something for their wedding. I was also VERY TERRIFIED, as anyone who has read my books knows, I’m not necessarily the most romantic person. But this is what I wrote…it took longer to write than a whole book. And people have asked me share it. So here it is. And congratulations to Ruth and Dave!

                                          What it’s about

And they’ll be mornings when

you turn over in bed,

See their still-sleeping face

creased into the pillow

and think,

Oh no, they’ve
dribbled again.

And they’ll be fights

at the bus stop –

Neither of you really knowing

what it’s about, only

that you’re SO ANGRY.

And there will be mundane grocery shops

Tiffs over the washing up

Hangovers you take out on each other

Toenail clippings where they shouldn’t be

Bad days

And loaded silences,

and quarrels over the remote.

All the everyday fabric

of human life

with this person

this one whole person.

Just them…

But there will also be

those times

you hold your face to their chest,

hear their heart beat,

and know only you get to hear this.

And those moments

when they hold you, and

you know everything is going to be OK.

They’ll be the warmth of their body

The way they smile

Your own secrets and in-jokes

Your own shared world

That you both constructed from scratch.

And you’ll find that you miss them

when they go away,

Even when you can rely on

them always coming home again.

Times when you look over at them

in the car

And think so clearly

How lucky you are.

They’ll be the clasp of their hand when you’re sick

Them knowing what’s best for you

before you do.

And giggles

and tears

…both the good and the bad kind.

But you cry them together.

And adventures,

And security.

And exciting times,

And nights just on the sofa.

And You

And Them.

And Them

And You.


Forever together.

You are not alone on this earth anymore.

Because this person,

This perfect and imperfect person,

loves you.

Just you.

And that

…that is what it’s about.

By Holly Bourne


THIS IS WHAT NORMAL LOOKS LIKE! Happy launch day @hollybourneya! #AmINormalYet #100daysofnormal



Hands up if you love Holly Bourne?

We love Holly too, so this weekend, Usborne YA Shelfies are giving away free UK + IE iBooks downloads of each of Holly’s stunning YA books.

There are three books to be won, with one winner per prize.

For a chance to win, follow Usborne YA Shelfies and reblog this post, telling us which book you would like to win! 

The competition ends at midnight GMT+1 on Sunday 13th September 2015.

We’ll message the lucky winners with their code on Monday 14th September. Good luck, tumblrs.