So I’m guessing you might just have heard of a book called GIRL ONLINE?
Who hasn’t, I hear you cry!
Well, I hadn’t, for one. Not until Leonora Haig, the narrator of my teen/YA book, FANMAIL, mentioned it to me.
You see, a couple of years ago, I wrote a book based on an incident that happened to me when I was sixteen.
It was at a concert by the biggest ‘boyband’ of the time, Haircut One Hundred. I was there with five of my mates, squished into a crowd of millions, singing my heart out to ‘FANTASTIC DAY.’
Suddenly heart-throb lead singer, Nick Heyward, grabbed the little flannel thingummy he’d been mopping his forehead with, and chucked it into the audience. And somehow the only boy among my five mates, who happened to be a bit taller than most of the audience, managed to catch it.
He hid it away before he was mobbed by thousands of teenage girls, and then, when he got home, he chopped it up into six squelchy little squares and gave each of us a piece of Nick Heyward. I mean, a piece of Nick’s Heyward sweaty towel.
I am not ashamed to say (okay, maybe a teensy bit ashamed to say) that I kept that little moist morsel for many years, in my special things box, even when I’d left home and set up my own house.
Anyway, many years later I wrote a book sort of based on that event, with lots of other extras thrown in including:
- boyband songs written by me and recorded by my brother (who’s been a bit of a teen idol himself in his time),
- a strong but threatened friendship between nerdy Cat and her best gal pal, Gorgeous Dolores, and
- a machine that does incredible things with scraps of material.
Fast-forward another two years to this Spring, when I found the amazing voice talents of Leonora to record the audio book of FANMAIL. We had many a giggle over it, and then she asked me those fateful words:
‘Have you read Girl Online by Zoella?’
Well, the fact is, I hadn’t. I still haven’t. I only read non-fiction when I’m writing, and anyway, I’d written FANMAIL way before GIRL ONLINE was invented, so it wasn’t on my radar at the time.
‘Are they a bit similar?’ I asked.
‘Well, there are some cross-overs like boybands and nerdy girls,’ said Leonora. ‘But other than that they’re really different.’
Ah well, I thought. This stuff happens in writing. There’s something big going on in the world. Several authors pick it up and put their own spin on it, and many stories zip out into the sky like fireworks, a bit similar but totally different.
I was talking to my daughter about it later, though.
‘Hey, I’ve got an idea,’ I said. ‘You know the book Girl Online? Well, as my book’s about a girl who hates social media and writes real actual letters instead, maybe I could rename it (de de derrrrrrrrrr) – GIRL OFFLINE.’
She rolled her eyes at me. She does that a lot, I’ve noticed.
‘No, Mother,’ she groaned. ‘You’d have to call it GIRL I.R.L. That’s GIRL IN REAL LIFE,’ she explained kindly as if to an idiot.
So for a while I did consider it, but in the end I’ve decided to keep the title as FANMAIL, which it always was and always will be. In a way, you see, the book is my one big fan letter to Nick Heyward and Haircut One Hundred for inspiring a story and throwing that little perspirationy prize out into the audience, so it really is actual Fan Mail.
And anyway, I might use GIRL IRL for something else.
Yes. You heard it here first.
Which reminds me. I’m giving away six audio books of FANMAIL so you can hear it for yourself (as well as six copies of tear-jerker time-slip novel, PINEAPPLE). For a chance to win one, go to www.jillmarshallaudiobooks.com, check out which book you’d like and then use the CONTACT button to let me know which one you’d prefer. I’ll draw out twelve names on Friday 14th August.
Signing off now. Online. Ish.