I’ll put my hands up and admit that I’ve always been hesitant about YouTubers releasing books. There was a stage when Alfie Deyes, Zoella and co. were taking over the shelves at local bookstores. It was a little disheartening to see because I couldn’t help but ask was this just another way for them to make money?
This view has now changed since reading She Must Be Mad by Charly Cox and interviewing the endearing Savannah Brown earlier this year.
And now following in their footsteps is Irish author Melanie Murphy.
The YouTuber has just released her first novel If Only and readers are going to adore each and every page.
If Only follows the story of soon-to-be thirty-year-old Erin, who is extremely unhappy with how her life has panned out thus far. She’s miserable in work, she just called off her wedding and she can’t help but yearn for the ‘perfect’ life her flatmate has.
She decides to return to Ireland for her momentous birthday and to visit her dear grandmother. Everything changes forever when Erin is given a secret family heirloom that may hold the key to the happy life she has always longed for.
We spoke to Melanie on the day of If Only’s release about her inspirations, fears and nerves as she enters the literary world as a first-time fiction author.
Melanie hopes If Only will do is re-introduce her followers to the joy of reading that has been lost in this digital age.
“I hope that some of my YouTube and Instagram followers (ones who've found themselves with mild to severe cases of Internet addiction) will pick up If Only and discover, or re-discover, a joy of reading. I’d also really love for people to come away from the novel with some optimism, with a deeper understanding of what truly matters (to them) in life and with a sense that they've been properly entertained. “
Writing a book is certainly no easy task, especially when you’re managing your own business, creating content and dealing with your personal life like Melanie. The author struggled with avoiding self-insertion during the writing process, but luckily she found a way to move past this hurdle.
“It was more difficult than I anticipated. The thing is, I'm not like most authors who experience the luxury of writing for people who may not even know what they look like. Many people who'll read If Only know a lot about my life from my vlogs and my years of YouTube content, and so the idea of writing a fictional character who appeared as an idealised version of me scared me senseless.
“I didn't want reviews about how Melanie wrote a self indulgent fanfic about herself, I wanted reviews about the story, the plot structure, the character development or lack thereof, the voice, the ending. Constructive feedback is to a writer what water is to a plant, and I knew that a self-insert would dominate reviews. I ended up deciding to add bits of myself into ALL of the characters and for everyone populating the story to be made up of a combination of me, friends, family members, acquaintances and characters I love myself.”
If Only is a truly magical tale so it came as no surprise to hear Melanie turned to the stunning romantic-drama About Time and the Wizarding World of Harry Potter for inspiration. Talk about the dream duo.
“The story was inspired by my tendency to wonder how life might look if I'd done things differently and by the slow burn romance between myself and my fella. I felt most inspired to write while listening to movie soundtracks and eighties music, which dominates the pages of the story.”
There’s no doubt Melanie has poured her heart and soul into this book, sharing glimpses of the writing process with fans along the way, but the fear of being judged as a ‘YouTube writer’ hung over her, despite the mass praise and excitement from her adoring followers.
“I've been chewing the insides of my cheeks from the second the book was sent out for advance reviews on NetGalley! There are always going to be plenty of people who accuse me of having a ghostwriter, or who think I'm good for nothing but filming and editing videos in my bedroom, and that's okay. Because at the end of the day I'm doing something I love, and I'm hoping to do it for the rest of my life. My work will speak for itself and it'll improve as the years roll out. So I'm doing my best to swallow the nerves,” Melanie shared.
If Only has been swiftly swept up off bookshelves across the country. Melanie’s debut novel will warm your heart, reassure your mind and help you see the true magic of life.
You can pick up a copy of If Only here.