Austin Mahone, the teenage pop star with a more wholesome image than his predecessor Justin Bieber wants to tell you his story.
At just 18, the crooner has millions of people—mostly young girls—clamoring to know more about his life story. So, just in time for the holidays, Mahone has published a memoir with Little, Brown Books for Young Readers: Austin Mahone: Just How It Happened. It describes in a casual and conversational tone his story so far—from how he achieved YouTube stardom to his tough time being bullied in school.
The book, surprisingly, is not the self-aggrandizing vanity trip of a preening pop star one would expect. Rather, Mahone is well aware of, and repeatedly stresses, the stunning rise to fame he has experienced.
That self-awareness came through on the phone. Cautious yet earnest, Mahone sounds and talks exactly like your teenage brother when you try to get updates on his life—or any number of teenage bros walking around malls. With his hair, tan, and white smile, he looks like something minted by producers—until you flip through the book and realize that he has always looked like somebody from central casting from an ABC Family show.
Mahone told The Daily Beast about his family, his fans, and, of course, his sneakers.
What made you want to publish a memoir at this stage of your career?
Basically, you know, I have a lot of fans that ask me a lot of questions and I just wanted to write this book and inspire them about my story, because I’ve worked really hard and done a lot of things to try to make my dreams to come true and I want theirs to come true too, and so was showing them my story, and saying that, you know, it’s possible.
In part of the book you discuss getting bullied in high school. Why do you think people targeted you?
It was just because I was different—I was doing something I loved to do. Where I was from that wasn’t really the coolest thing to do. So I guess they just saw that as an opportunity to make fun of someone.
You write quite a lot about your relationship with your mother and how she was instrumental in your success. You also say you “don’t miss or feel sad” about your father, who took his life.
People ask me all the time, like, “How does it feel to not have a dad? Are you saddened by that?” Honestly I don’t really have any feelings about it because I never really knew him, and I don’t really know what it’s like to have a dad. That’s just how I grew up, I just grew up me and my mom, and I don’t really know anything different from that.
You talk in the book about meeting some of your idols, including Taylor Swift. As you exit your teenage years, are there artist you would like to emulate?
I think Justin Timberlake has been the best example for that, so I would definitely love to have the longevity and the type of career as he did.
Are there any you hope not to emulate?
You write about your obsession with sneakers—why do you think so many young men are into sneakers?
I mean I think it’s just a hobby that a lot of young kids are into these days. I love to collect shoes and just have a variety of different choices I can choose from. I enjoy doing it.
The relationship between you and your fans, you say, is intense, particularly over social media. Does it ever get weird?
No, not at all. I like to update them and tell them “Good Morning” every morning on Twitter, but it’s pretty normal.
Growing up in Texas, you didn’t really like country music. Why was that?
I mean, now that I’m into this music thing and now that I’m growing up a little bit, I’m kind of going back to my roots. I’ve always loved country music, and liked listening to it, but at that time I heard of it so much, I was just sick of it. Now that I’m out of my small town, and I’m doing my own thing, I enjoy listening to country music.
Do you still check out other artists that are on YouTube or other social networks?
Yea man, I still go on YouTube all the time and look up covers that people are doing and seeing who’s hot right now, and who’s coming up. You just look on YouTube, and there’s so many talented people who haven’t been discovered yet. That’s how I started, so I definitely think YouTube is a great way to get noticed.
You ended up finishing high school at home. Have you ever thought about going to college?
I’ve definitely thought about it. Right now I’m just focused on music and trying to expand my audience, but you never know.