Hannah Hart's fans probably know her pretty well. After all, the YouTube star has uploaded 529 videos in the past five years. However, there have been some things she hasn't been ready to discuss with them—until now.
With the release of her second book, Buffering, Hart is showing fans even more of her world. And that's scary.
"When a book comes out, it's a little like your birthday," Hart said. "Everyone's going to be nice to you. But it's also like you just gave birth to a child, and you're afraid everyone's going to tell you it's ugly."
Hart's first book, published in August 2014, was called simply My Drunk Kitchen after her YouTube show and channel. The premise of the channel is to see what kind of creations, and lessons, come out of her genius drunken brain. (Just don't ask her to bake; that's when it gets messy.)
MDK, the book, gently introduced fans to what Hart's life was like, with reminiscences from her childhood. But the channel has for the most part stayed on the lighter side. You can watch Hart try to make ice cream using, like, two plastic bags. You can see her try (and fail) to make grilled cheese.
Mostly, the videos are highly creative and joyous celebrations of food. It's rare for Hart to lift the veil, so to speak, and let fans see into her real life.
Buffering tears the veil completely away.
"This morning, kids in carrot onesies were lining up to get this book," she said, referencing an inside joke from her channel, "but they don't quite know what they're in for."
The book deals with her mother's homelessness and her stepsister's suicide. It touches on the years when self-harm was what made sense to her as a release. It's not quite what Hart's viewers have come to expect from her. And it wasn't easy to open up as much as she does.
She'd tell herself that tomorrow she could be her "normal self," but that tonight she had to keep working on the book and explaining the most painful parts of her life.
"I had to walk over to a memory and sit in it, observe it and then write about it," she said. "I was visiting moments of life from a distance."
Hart hopes the new book, which is so different from what she usually shows people, will help move the conversation around mental healthcare forward and maybe reach people who wouldn't normally pick up a book that deals with such real-life issues.
"You know when you read something you're maybe not 'supposed to' yet?" she said. "This book might make people grow up faster."
Hart had to dive into writing about such difficult subjects as her struggle to reconcile her religious upbringing with the reality of her sexuality—all while continuing to do her "day job."
"Life didn't stop at all," Hart said.
It took Hart a year and a half to write the book amid keeping up a semiregular upload schedule for YouTube, starring in a reboot of Electra Woman and Dyna Girl with fellow YouTuber and comedy dynamo Grace Helbig, bringing a tour of a live sketch comedy to Australia with Helbig and co-conspirator Mamrie Hart (no relation, just coincidence), co-starring in a romp of a film called Dirty 30 with those ladies, and filming her very own show for Food Network.
"We all have stories to share," she said. "I know that I have the platform, responsibility and privilege to tell my type of story. I don't have a choice."
For a creator who's shared so much of her life already in her more personal vlogs, it's hard to imagine there'd be much more to show and tell. But the hope for any digital influencer is that her fans will come along on the journey.
"Writing this book was really drenching, not draining—I was saturated in my own feelings," Hart said. "But I put myself through it because it was an honor to write it."