When I started out in journalism I worked for a teen mag, and I think it’s fair to say that I lived and breathed the brand. I made it my mission to go out and understand not just the trends they loved, but the trials they faced.
I could have won Mastermind with Twilight as my specialist subject. But more than anything, I felt, broadly, that being an adolescent hadn’t changed too much since I left my teens.
Our teen readers were passionate, pressured people who wanted to be the best from life, and wanted to be loved at their worst.
They were nervous, but determined to be as independent as possible as soon as they could be, and enjoyed a healthy feeling of rebellion, even if it was just Tippexing swear words onto their school bag or inking a pentagram onto their wrist with a cartridge pen.
The You Tube vlogger explosion arrived shortly after I stopped writing for teens full time.
Although I paid attention to what was happening, I could never have predicted the boom of bedroom superstars adored by teens everywhere, who created fortunes and celebrity legacies while telling a webcam what make up they were wearing, and what they planned to have for their tea. Her recently published debut novel had to be launched from a secret location, because the number of fans forecast to show up constituted a security threat.
If you have a teenage girl, or a girl in your early twenties in your house, I’d bet you a pound that Zoella’s book, or something from Zoella’s Superdrug make up range, will be wrapped up and placed under the Christmas tree.
(The chief executive of Penguin has put £10 on Zoella’s book being the Christmas no 1.) Every Mum I know is thrilled about Zoella. ‘We didn’t think our kids would grow up in a world where anyone could seem cool or clever without going on about how much weed they smoke, or taking pictures of their own crotch.’ Zoella is the anti-Miley. She’s never going to have to explain a dodgy Instagram picture, or get caught in a club kissing someone who isn’t her boyfriend.