She got big on YouTube without even realising the UK community existed, and now she’s putting the finishing touches to her first novel. Our cover star for LGBTQ+ History Month is Connie Glynn, who talks us through her Tumblr beginnings, The Rosewood Chronicles, and inconsequential queerness. (And quotes Adventure Time, obvs.)
On her YouTube channel, Connie Glynn does impressions of Disney princesses and transforms herself into anime characters. She talks about cartoons, kawaii, and beauty products. Her bedroom tour videos are a sea of pink and cuddly toys.
And if any of that makes you think less of her, she’s ready to take you on.
“I wear my femininity like an armour,” she says, defiantly. “I know I’m smart. I know that I have worthwhile things to say. And I’m not going to tone down these feminine things that I love because I’m worried people will think it makes me stupid. I am totally here for being feminine and being smart.”
And we are totally here for Connie.
As Noodlerella, she has nearly 750,000 subscribers, to whom she views herself as “a nerdy big sister”, she says, “kind of how my brother was my nerdy big brother to me.” Although she started making videos for fun, she found an audience of young girls who share her interests, but feel alone or get dismissed because of it. “I was glad I could show them that there’s other people in the world who like these nerdy things, and it’s fine, and it’s fun.”
Much of her personal life stays off-limits (“I’m definitely a shy extrovert,” she says. “I love interacting with people, but I don’t actually want myself to be exposed”), but she’s long had dreams of one day becoming successful in the public eye.
“Somewhere in the world is a diary where I have my ten-year plan,” she reveals. “I wanted to get my degree, and then I wanted to go and teach English in Japan for a year, and then I wanted to do set design and costume design for films. It also involved writing my book series, and then writing an autobiography… It was a long list of things I wanted to do!”
She got the degree (Film Studies at Sussex: “studying incredible people who wrote about movies, and all these huge concepts that I couldn’t have ever handled before I went to university”) but after that, YouTube changed her path – but not the destination.
“I’m still making costumes, and doing the special effects makeup – I’m just doing it personally, instead of for somebody [else],” she points out. “And I’ve written a book! I am doing the things that I planned, I’m just doing them in a different way.”
Although she’s best known today as a YouTuber, Connie initially built a following elsewhere. “I was originally a Tumblogger,” she explains, “and my YouTube channel was just a lead-off from Tumblr.”
At first, her blog was about Disney villains, then Disney generally, and finally “a cute haven of video games and anime” – and YouTube allowed her to connect with friends she’d made in those fandoms. “It was very much just a way for me and my nerdy Tumblr friends to communicate,” she laughs. “None of us had ever even heard each other’s voice, so we were making videos between each other.”
Those relationships let Connie share her interest in “things that I was not comfortable sharing in real life with my other friends”, she says. “I went online and I found my community, and there I could be whoever I wanted to be. I could be this person who I felt I was inside.”
Then one of her videos blew up. “One day, I came back and the Disney princess impressions video I’d made for a friend of mine had like 10,000 views,” she recalls, “and I felt like I’d found the place I really belonged.”
Recently, Connie did some Tumblr maintenance (“cos I’ve had my Tumblr blog since I was 16, so there’s some very embarrassing stuff on there!”) and found an old post about her videos. “I was saying, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if one day I could get a thousand views on a video?’,” she laughs. “Imagine if I could go back and tell her what was going to happen! It expanded beyond what I was expecting.”
But at first, Connie’s channel expanded in isolation, separate from the established UK YouTube community.
“I was never a YouTube fan,” she admits. “I remember people commenting on my videos saying I reminded them of Zoella, and I didn’t know who she was. I remember googling her with my mum, and my mum saying, ‘She seems like a nice girl! That’s a nice person for people to say you’re like!’ So I really had no idea who any of these people were.” Connie had seen makeup tutorials by xsparkage and Panacea81, but “didn’t even know their actual names. It was very much about what they were doing as opposed to who they were.”
So how did Connie cross into the mainstream? “Yeah, so this is really weird!” she laughs. “It feels weird in my head. It doesn’t feel like a true story.”
It started with 100 YOUTUBER INTRO IMPRESSIONS IN 5 MINUTES, a video Connie made after meeting Bethan Leadley, who was on the same network as her. “I was mostly just including people she was friends with,” Connie explains, “because I knew that she was in the community.” Bethan watched that video with Dodie Clark and Evan Edinger, “and Evan was really annoyed that he wasn’t included in the video, apparently! So he DM’d me kind of annoyed about it, and then realised I wasn’t part of the community.”
Evan invited Connie to a party at the YouTube Space in London. “It was the first time I ever went, and I got completely lost,” she laughs. “He had to come and find me, because I was just walking around in the middle of London, having no idea what I was doing! And I couldn’t believe how nice everyone was. These people thought like me, they were doing the same things as me – being in the community of people who were uploading content online – and knew what it was like to have a public presence and this private presence. And it really felt like I’d found my people.
“We have this joke that I’m the lonely island YouTuber,” she explains, “because I kind of existed in my own right, and I never collab’d with anyone, but I still had this very loyal, lovely following. Most of the British YouTube community kind of share a following, but mine was this whole other thing, and I wasn’t even aware of this other world that existed. So when I was introduced to it, it was kind of a culture shock.”
“Most of the British YouTube community share a following, but mine was this whole other thing…”
When that shared audience discovered Connie – confident, established, and successful, but also completely new to them – some of them reacted badly. “There was definitely a sense of ‘Who the hell is this?! She’s not part of the YouTube community! She can’t just come in here!’ If you read the comments on the first collab I ever did, some of them are so mean! And then suddenly, I was aware that I was being brought up on online forums, and things like that. People were interested in my private life, which had never happened before. I suddenly had to learn this whole new set of online skills about avoiding negativity – which I thought I was really good at, but I had to relearn it all over again.”
She still has “moments where I suddenly feel like I’m not part of the community” – particularly since she moved back in with her parents to recover from her recent car accident – but on the whole, she’s been embraced. “And it’s actually been so wonderful,” she says. “I’m really glad I joined this community. I’ve met so many people, and the followers have done so much more for me than I can ever express to them. I don’t think they really understand how much they’ve taught me, in terms of being able to focus on positivity. Because they are so supportive. They’re honestly incredible.”
And now she’s taking them on a new journey.
Last month, it was revealed that Connie had signed a deal with Penguin Random House for the first three novels in The Rosewood Chronicles, which she’s planned as a five-book series. In her announcement video, Connie shared footage she’d shot while working in secret on the first instalment, which will be released on 21 September.
“I’ve always written,” she tells us. “I’ve always loved writing. But I’ve never shared any of my work. I’ve always kept diaries, I’ve always written stories. And I used to even vlog before I was a YouTuber – I’d make videos for myself, but I never shared them online.” Encouraged by a tutor at uni to create more “private work”, Connie started writing in earnest “just before university ended – and then, all of a sudden, I was writing a book…”
She was approached by a publisher, but “it turned out they didn’t really have the same direction, the same views as I did, on what I wanted this project to be”, she says. Instead, she perfected the first ten chapters of the manuscript – “getting them, like, finished and neat” – and submitted them to a literary agent, who approached other publishers. Many of them “didn’t even know I had a YouTube following”, she explains, “which was really exciting news: it was a standalone thing, regardless of my audience.”
The Rosewood Chronicles is “one complete story that takes place over five books”, and the characters are its “driving force”, she says. “They will hopefully be cherished by everyone who reads it. And there is an overarching theme – a message I’m trying to convey – which hopefully people will absorb over the course of these five books.
“I always had this idea that I wanted to tell a story about two very different people who balance each other out,” she continues. “And I’ve always loved boarding schools, because I went to a boarding school myself. Fish-out-of-water settings, as well, and mysteries – all of these things are the kind of things I always knew I wanted to get involved in, in writing. I planned out the whole series after the first publisher contacted me, so I know everything that’s going to happen – every little twist and spoiler.”
What was the writing process like? “I found it a lot easier than I was actually expecting,” Connie replies. “It was just about planning; the more I planned, the easier it was. Knowing exactly what actions needed to happen in every chapter, it all kind of fell into place.
“But I’m currently doing editing, and the first edit – which will hopefully be the only edit, by the sounds of it – is due [this month], and I’m finding this to be a whole different thing, because it’s about killing your darlings. There’s things that I know should be taken out, because they’re not really working, but I read them and I’m like, ‘Oh! But I love this bit!’”
“My editors have said the best scenes I write are really cinematic, and that comes from the phenomenal quantity of films I’ve watched…”
She was surprised, she says, by how much she was capable of doing. “Obviously I said to the world – and I said to myself – ‘Writing a book? Whatever, I can do that, I’ve been writing all my life.’ But then facing the idea that it was going to be approximately 100,000 words was this whole new thing. I’ve only ever written 10,000 words for anything in my life! But I found it was just so easy. It just kind of spills out of you.”
Did Film Studies help? “It’s actually really interesting that you say that,” Connie laughs. “My editors have said that the best scenes that I write are the ones that are really cinematic, that feel like you’re watching the moment take place. And that absolutely just comes from the phenomenal quantity of films that I’ve watched. I hadn’t really thought about it at all, but I guess I’m very visual when I write my stories. I have to imagine I’m in the space that I’m writing about.”
She’s approaching her future readers the same way she approaches her YouTube viewers. “I want to help someone in the way that I might have needed help previously in my life,” she asserts. “No matter how old they are, or where they’re at in their life, I hope it reaches people in a way that is beneficial to them.”
Books that reached Connie like that when she was growing up include Scarlett Thomas’s The End of Mr Y – “it really gave me a sense of the world being a community” – and Jacqueline Wilson’s Midnight, which “got me into writing and reading”, she says. “Thinking about it now, it’s actually the cinematic language she uses,” she observes, of the Wilson book. “It was so easy to visualise, and the emotions felt very deep and real.”
The reaction to the announcement of The Rosewood Chronicles has been positive. “People have been really, really, wonderfully excited,” Connie smiles. “But as much as I love the response, what I really want is people to read the book! I’m glad people are excited, but I want them to be excited about reading it, more than anything else.”
Does she feel differently about it now that it’s no longer “private work”, and expectations have been set? “No, it’s still the same feeling,” she says. “I really want it to be good. Even if it’s being read by people who don’t know anything about how books are written yet, that’s no excuse not to make them something really, really wonderful, and really good.”
Last year, Connie made a “not coming out” video, in which she talked about being pansexual.
“It was to do with the influx of new followers I was having,” she explains. “Before that, no-one ever asked much about what my sexuality was. I always felt like I was very public about it – I’d always post about, like, seeing a hot girl and thinking about asking her for her number, and stuff like that – but people want you to just say it and be clear about it, I realised. So even though I slightly resented making a sexuality video, I could understand the need for it.”
Connie identifies as pan rather than bi because she rejects the male/female binary. “I’m strongly of the viewpoint that gender is a construct,” she says. “Genderfluidity is something that’s really important to me.” But occasionally, she’s described herself as bi, because “sometimes you don’t want to have to explain it, and you don’t want to have to get into an argument with somebody about gender politics.” She laughs. “Sometimes you just want to enjoy your Friday night, you know?”
What was it like to record that video? “I was so incredibly nervous,” she admits, “which was so strange for me. Because I consider myself so public about it, I thought, ‘Oh, I’ll just set up my camera, make this video, and clear it up’, but then suddenly all of my reservations [surfaced]. I really had to take quite a few deep breaths before I ended up filming. And in the end, I had to script it, because I just kept on getting too nervous.”
She’s frustrated that it’s still “such a big deal when people make a sexuality video”, but recognises the importance of queer visibility. “I have to remember that most [LGBTQ+] people in the world aren’t really in a position to come out,” she says, “and a lot of people are looking for role models who are the same as them. So I completely understand the need for it – but in my perfect world, people wouldn’t have to do that.”
“The element of inconsequential queerness throughout my book was really important…”
Her dream of a less heteronormative world is a big part of her plan for The Rosewood Chronicles. “This is something I discussed with all of the publishers I went to meet,” she reveals. “The element of inconsequential queerness throughout the story was really important and should not be changed. Penguin have been incredibly open to this, and really supportive.”
Were any of the other publishers less receptive? “No-one was less receptive about it. Everyone was pretty relaxed about the idea. But with Penguin, I felt it was something they wanted as well, and had been thinking about when they read my first chapter – they’d already picked up on this theme, and they kind of brought it up themselves. That’s when I really knew that they completely understood the themes I was going for.”
The only place she’s seen sexuality handled in that way before is online – “in fanfiction, and things like that. I can’t think of any books that I read growing up that had that same kind of inconsequential feeling towards it.
“It’s very much about it not being a ‘queer book’, necessarily,” she continues. “Oftentimes, if you have like a lesbian protagonist, it becomes ‘queer literature’. And we shouldn’t be just siphoning these things off for one group. So this book is very much about the idea of it being a non-event, which is what I was talking about in my sexuality video.”
As such, the characters’ queerness is not related to the ‘fish out of water’ themes she mentioned. “None of the characters would ever look down on another character for those kind of things,” Connie explains, “cos I really don’t want that to be the experience. I want it to be a kind of safe haven; for young queer children to be able to read it and it be normalised in this world.”
And of course, she’s not done with YouTube. She’s had to “put the progression of my channel on the side” to recover from her injuries, “because there’s no point in pushing these things I’m just not going to be able to do until I’m healed”, but wants to improve the production values of her videos.
“It’s something I’ve always put to the side, because I definitely value the content more than how it’s made,” she says. “But again, it comes from this place of, like, ‘Just because people don’t care about that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give them the absolute best’.”
Given that she made her name in online video, studied film at university, and has been praised for the cinematic qualities of her novel, would she ever like to write a screenplay or—
“YES,” she says, before we’ve even finished the question. “Absolutely! I was talking about this the other day. I’d really love to, in the future, do a series of autobiographical essays like Amy Poehler did, and Mindy Kaling – I love those so much. But then Aziz Ansari did his autobiographical essays as a series called Master of None, which was available on Netflix, and I loved the way he told these personal stories through these little hour-long episodes. I just thought that was genius, and I’d love to do something like that in the future.”
Big ambitions, then.
“I think it’s always just about trying things,” she suggests, before bringing it right back to cartoons: “You’ve just got to keep trying. Because, like they say in Adventure Time, ‘Sucking at something is the first step to being kind of sort of good at it’.”
Want more from Connie?
Why not check out these exclusive photosets:
- Connie Glynn TenEighty Cover
- Connie Glynn TenEighty Photoshoot: Set 01
- Connie Glynn TenEighty Photoshoot: Set 02
- Patreon: Connie Glynn Behind-the-Scenes
Alternatively, read some of our previous TenEighty interviews:
- Niki and Sammy Albon: Let Them Entertain You
- Grace F. Victory: Recognising Happiness
- Melanie Murphy: Glass Half Full
- Hazel Hayes: Kill Your Darlings