An Interview with Siobhan Curham

Ever worked long and hard on something and find out someone else has already done it?

That happened to me a few months ago, and as always, it pissed me off! I went through my usual quick progression:

From Hulk to Happy

  1. Be furious that someone “stole” my idea.
  2. Get a grip.
  3. Become excited that there’s an audience/market and grateful that someone else is championing the same cause and trying to help people too.

I was familiar with the name Siobhan Curham, so when I checked out her blog and saw she’d written a book called ‘True Face’, I was intrigued. The above steps occurred when I read how similar her book was to the one I’d just written. Around step 5 above, I decided to get in touch with her. After a friendly exchange she invited me to write a piece regarding the difficulty of dreaming in the midst of racism. You can read my guest post on her blog here.

Though not her current book, Siobhan was kind enough to answer some questions regarding ‘True Face’. Like the work of Launch, Siobhan recognizes the importance of authentic living and helping young adults shed their masks and lead a life unmasked.

When did you first recognize young adults not showing their ‘True Face’?

s-c“I do a lot of work in high schools giving talks and running workshops and I see the pressure on young adults to be something they’re not. That pressure has always existed, but it’s more prevalent today with the online world and social media. Young adults are constantly being told how to look, act and be, and so often they’re being presented with an image of perfection that isn’t even real or achievable, for example the air-brushed photos or carefully edited highlights reel of a celebrity’s Instagram feed.”

 

What led you to writing ‘True Face’ specifically for girls?

s-c

“My novels for young adults are for girls so my publisher wanted True Face to be pitched at that same market. However, as the mom of a teenage son, I’m acutely aware that boys are under just as much pressure to “fake it” to fit in. As a woman, I’m not sure I’m qualified to talk about the male experience, as it is different to that of girls. I feel that a male writer would probably do a better, more authentic job of writing on this subject for boys.”

 

Did teenage Siobhan show the world her true face? Why or why not?

s-c“I began to mask after my parents split up and my mom left. Her leaving was a massive shock to me and I can remember thinking, I must never let another person close enough to hurt me like that again. So I put on a mask of indifference and tried to numb the pain with alcohol and drugs. The irony is, I only ended up hurting myself more. My education suffered and I made some really bad relationship choices. It took me a long time to find the self-love needed to find my way back to my true self. This was a major factor in me writing True Face – I wanted to give young adults the tools and exercises needed to remove their masks a lot quicker, to help them avoid wasting years of their life in fear and pain.”


How can we empower and teach more young adults to live authentically?

s-c“By showing our own authentic selves and speaking up about our so-called imperfections and making it cool to be different. We can share tools that help boost confidence and self-belief and teach young adults to honor their passions and follow their dreams no matter how different from the so-called ‘norm’ they might be.”

 

How can creators and influencers collectively do a better job of helping others live authentically?

s-c“By coming together to launch initiatives, speaking out on our social media, opening our platforms for young people to have a voice. Collectively, we can force against all the phony crap young people are bombarded with by certain sections of the media.”

 

Huge thanks to Siobhan for her work and interview.

sSiobhan Curham is an award-winning author of several books for adults and children including Finding Cherokee Brown, True Face, Dear Dylan– which won the YoungMinds Book Award in 2010, and The Scene Stealers. Siobhan is also an editorial consultant, motivational speaker and life coach, and has written for a variety of publications including The Guardian and Cosmopolitan. You can purchase a copy of her book True Face here, and read about what she’s currently working on her blog.