What’s the idea behind your latest book?
This one is called Elites of Eden and it’s the second book in the series that started with Children of Eden. Basically it continues where the first book left off. It’s a dystopian society set in the future, after humanity has destroyed itself. There’s a city called Eden with strict laws where every family can only have one child each due to diminishing resources. My story follows a girl who is born a twin; her name is Rowan and she’s the main character. Her brother is the first child because he had medical issues and he needed to get treatment, so she’s lived her whole life behind the walls of her family’s compound. And one day she finds out that she is technically the first born and she gets angry and decides to leave the safety of her home. Book two focuses more on the privilege of the elite children of Eden, so you see a different perspective of what it’s like in the city, but [you’re] still following the story of the first book.
I heard you really like the Hunger Games. Did that influence the kind of book you wanted to write?
Yeah, I’ve been a huge fan of dystopian novels growing up, Hunger Games [being] one of them. So I definitely wanted to create my own story from reading those types of books.
You have a large audience over multiple venues: You’re a YouTuber, an actor, an author. How are the audiences different between each of them and is there any overlap?
Oh yeah, I think it’s all pretty much overlapped, just because my core audience is off YouTube. Whenever I’m doing anything, I let that audience know that this is something I’m working on and they kind of follow me to the different projects I do. I mean, with the book I think there are definitely people who pick [it] up off the shelf that don’t even know who I am, which is cool because it’s opening me up to a new audience.
What made you want to write a book?
The first book I wrote was an autobiography, and that really opened my mind to creating more books from there. I’ve always wanted to make a movie and was always inspired by books that turn into movies, like Hunger Games and Divergent, so I wanted to create my own so it could potentially turn into a movie.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I really like Rick Yancey; he did the 5th Wave. I also really like Ernest Cline from Ready Player One. I am absolutely obsessed with that book. I cannot wait for it to turn into a movie. Of course J.K. Rowling; she’s always been a big inspiration for me. Philip Pullman as well. The list goes on and on.
You host the Escape the Night series, too. How does that work?
Yeah, so that’s the show that I created for YouTube Red, basically like a murder mystery series where me and nine other YouTubers are thrown into the murder mystery setting where we’re solving clues, escaping rooms, and going against each other to be eliminated by the show. It’s kind of like Clue meets Survivor and I hope to do a season three.
What would you consider to be the turning point of your career?
I think it was when I moved to L.A.. I was 19 years old and I dropped out of college and drove cross-country.
What are some tips you would give readers or fans that you wish you had known when starting out?
I guess just something that I’ve learned is that no one is going to fight harder for yourself than you are. It’s important if there’s something that you want to accomplish in life that you go after it and don’t wait for someone else to do it for you, because that’s never going to happen. No one is going to do it better than yourself until you find the right team to help you, but you always have to be the one at the head charging forward.