An Interview with Siobhan Curham

Joshua: True Face comes across as, to me, a self help book. A book with inspiration at it’s core. What inspired you to create this kind of book?

Siobhan: Ever since I’ve been writing novels for young adults, I’ve dreamt of writing an inspirational non-fiction book for that age group. Due to the issues-based nature of some of my novels, I often receive emails from readers asking for advice, so this felt like a really natural progression and I’d become acutely aware of the need for a book like True Face.

Joshua: The book is designed to be read alongside a journal, a ‘True Face Journal.’ In this the reader follows along with the book and completes the different activities to help realise their True Face. What is the significance of the journal?

Siobhan: I think writing in a journal can be extremely therapeutic. There’s something about the act of writing and that can really help you to make sense of things and process your thoughts. It can also be a great way of channelling so-called ‘negative’ emotions such as anger and fear in a safe and private way.

Joshua: At the end of each part of the book, there is a Tweet using the hashtag #TrueFace. Why is Twitter incorporated as part of this book?

Siobhan: I’d always planned to end each chapter with a succinct one line summary and it was only when I was about half way through writing the book that it dawned on me that these affirmations could also be used as tweets. I’m a great fan of using social media to promote positive and life-affirming messages – as opposed to gossip and hate.

Joshua: The book makes use of the stories as told from different characters, so in the book you received an email from a teenage girl talking about their issues with people in their school feeling fat, for example. Are all the stories that you encounter in the book true and real, and are the characters actual people?

Siobhan: Yes. The girl you mention is a book blogger who contacted me after I put out an appeal for case studies – in fact, several book bloggers feature in the book! Due to the personal nature of some of the stories, I changed some names and details to protect the person’s anonymity.

Joshua: As well as other people, you also share a lot of your own experiences, so for example your teenage experimentation with drugs. Were your experiences a difficult thing to write about?

Siobhan: Yes. Initially I wasn’t going to feature nearly as much of my own personal story but I very quickly realised that for the book to really do what it said on the tin – or cover – I had to open up about my own personal experiences. How could I ask the reader to be open and authentic without doing so myself? And I’m so glad I did because a lot of the initial feedback I’m getting about the book is thanking me for being so open. I know as a reader that when I read something where the writer really opens up about their own mistakes and hard times I find it hugely comforting and inspiring. Knowing that other people can mess up and go through hard times and yet still get through it all and come out smiling is hugely inspiring to me.

Joshua: Some authors set out to write books like True Face for themselves, but don’t realise that it would help as many people as they thought they would. Why did you write this book, and did you intend to help people through writing it?

Siobhan: Several years ago I had the massive realisation that I’d really lost sight of my true self – and as a consequence I’d ended up deeply unhappy in many areas of my life. As soon as I set about overcoming my fears and pursuing my true calling as a writer everything started to change for the better. I can now honestly say that I’m one of the happiest people I know – something that I’m massively grateful about. As a young adult novelist I became acutely aware that I definitely wasn’t alone in feeling the pressure to fake it in some way from the emails I was receiving from readers. Also, looking around at my adult friends, I could see many who had become trapped by fear. So I wrote True Face as a way of trying to help people get back to living fearlessly and authentically. All of the advice and exercises in the book are taken from years of my own trial and error as I worked my way back to my true self.

Joshua: Was this book a result of any of your personal experiences? Did you write it as a result of something that had happened to you?

Siobhan: I think that I lost sight of my true self due to a series of experiences, which I go into in detail in the book: the trauma of my mum leaving, a crisis of confidence at university and a very difficult romantic relationship. All of these caused me to hide my true self away from the world. But really, the book is the result of me finding the courage and tools to overcome my fear of getting hurt.

Joshua: The book offers a lot of professional support with issues like bullying and sex etc. Did you work with professionals on this book for the support in the book?

Siobhan: No, several years ago I trained as a life coach so I have lots of professional experience in dealing with these kind of issues and training in things like CBT and mindfulness techniques, so True Face is a marriage between both strands of my working life, as a writer and a coach.

Joshua:How long did it take to write True Face?

Siobhan: It took about six months once I’d planned it all out and gathered together the case studies. The ideas had been bubbling away inside of me for years so once I actually sat down to write it just flowed out.

Joshua: What advice would you like to give to readers of True Face and of this interview and where would you recommend for further help and support post-True Face?

Siobhan: If I had to pick one piece of advice it would be to reassure the reader that their true self is more than good enough. There’s so much pressure on us today to look and be ‘perfect’ at all times, what with the bombardment of air-brushed images in the media and the spotlight of living so much of our lives online. But the truth is, nobody’s perfect and that’s OK. By focusing on your own unique strengths and dreams and passions you can create a life that is full of happiness and adventure. For further support I would recommend people check out the True Face website: It’s full of inspirational posts, advice and interviews.

Joshua: Thank you to Siobhan for allowing us to interview you for the site! Buy True Face today:


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