Girl Online Zoe Sugg Zoella

On Monday night, we donned our glad rags (and viking hats) to celebrate the book birthday of one of our most glamorous new Penguins.  Girl Lost in the City AKA Emma Gannon reports from the top secret launch party of Zoe Sugg’s debut novel Girl Online

I first joined the Zoella fan club in 2009, regularly tuning into Zoe’s blog and YouTube channel and slowly becoming more addicted to having a daily dose of real-girl life, fashion and beauty advice. Watching her develop from bedroom blogger into a published author has been the most exciting thing of 2014 (in my opinion).

Scrolling through the #GirlOnline on Twitter, one tweet in particular made me feel all reflective: “She’s not our little secret anyone” said a fan, attaching a picture of Zoe’s face enlarged across an entire wall in a local bookshop.

That tweet sums it up. This is huge.

It’s a big change, but the people who know and love Zoe have clearly been behind her every step of the way. In his speech at the launch party, Tom Weldon, the CEO of Penguin Random House UK revealed that while he was excited about signing Zoe to write her debut novel, his teenage goddaughter Frankie, a longstanding Zoella fan, was an essential part in encouraging Penguin to seal the deal.

Last night’s event was totally ‘Zoe’, with clips of her vlogs playing on screens, silly props for selfies and #GirlOnline cupcakes. All of Zoe’s pals were there, (Alfie, Marcus, Jim, Caspar Lee), some live vlogging, and all clearly happy for their friend. Bee Barker, a digital marketer at Penguin made a comment that I loved: “Watching the YouTubers interact online in each other’s videos is like a modern day version of Friends”.

I asked Holly Peacock from Grazia what she was most looking forward to about the book. “I’m excited to see Zoe’s fictional view on the digital world she’s living in – I think it’s going to be very insightful. Reading her objectively observing her life will be really interesting”.

The story of Girl Online covers all of those highs and lows that Zoe already captures on her YouTube channel, the joys of the Internet, connecting people, making new friends and expressing yourself, as well as the darker aspects, such as the anxiety and panic attacks that she’s currently addressing in her ambassador role at Mind.

It also features relationships and the trials and tribulations of falling in love. YouTuber and blogger, Victoria, of In the Frow told me what she’s looking forward to: “The boys! I’m most excited to see the love interest, and how all of the romance pans out.”

It’s clear that Zoe’s personality is one of the fundamental reasons for her loyal fanbase. Anna James, books editor at ELLE said “I can’t wait to see how Zoe translates her voice into a novel – it’s her warmth and charm that’s so appealing and it’ll be great to see that come across in her words and not just on camera”

The warm and friendly atmosphere of the party last night was just like one of Zoe’s videos: familiar, unintimidating and genuine. There’s no doubt about it, this will be one to watch.

Emma Gannon, of Girl Lost in the City writes for The DeBrief. Follow Emma on Twitter @girllostincity

See more from the launch on the @PenguinUKBooks Instagram, including another very special Penguin who made an appearance.

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