EXCITING POST ALERT!
To celebrate the release of Noah Could Never, I’ve had the amazing opportunity to interview one of my favourite authors, Simon James Green. Simon is the author of Noah Can’t Even and Noah Could Never, two brilliant YA books about discovering yourself and having a laugh while you’re at it. They’re full of British humour, touching moments and first love. Simon joins me on the blog to talk about what’s in store for Noah in the next book…
Hi Simon! Thank you so much for letting me interview you!
Oh, I’m sorry, I thought you were the plumber. Well OK, since you’re here I suppose we may as well chat. Hi!
For those who haven’t read the books, could you tell us a little about them?
Noah Can’t Even follows geeky Noah Grimes, whose world is thrown into disarray when his best mate, Harry, kisses him at a party. As if dealing with his sexuality wasn’t enough, Noah’s also taking flak about his mum’s Beyoncé tribute act, his missing dad, and assorted mysteries about his secret half-sibling, mum’s new lover, and the father of Jess Jackson’s baby. It’s a riotous sort of book, full of laughter and mayhem, but at its heart it’s about a teenage boy who just needs to work out who he is, and whether he’s brave enough to be that parson. In the sequel, Noah Could Never, things become even more bananas when the French exchange students turn up, (one of whom clearly fancies Harry), and a drag queen takes up residence in Noah’s house, after a bare-knuckled drag feud. And then it all kicks off big time when Gran’s diamonds go missing, and Noah needs to get them back – something which involves a road trip to London and a very bad goose! But the sequel also explore what it means to be in a relationship, and is still a lot about Noah working out who he is and navigating his way through his increasingly confusing life. I tried to write books that were funny, but also had a lot of heart.
Which of your characters is the most enjoyable to write?
Definitely Noah. The books are basically told from his POV anyway, so I’m always in his head when I’m writing, and it’s a pretty funny place to be. I’ve become very fond of him, even when he makes ridiculous decisions, and I love writing his dialogue. But Harry is also fun to write, because he’s so adorable and cute, and I always love writing Noah’s mum’s stuff, just because of her personality and the fact she’s a good match for Noah and refuses to take any of his shit.
Who do you think the best audience for your books is?
Anyone who is, or has ever been, a teenager, and anyone who doesn’t take themselves too seriously and enjoys a laugh. Of course, I particularly hope the book resonates for LGBTQ+ teens, because I really felt that audience needed more books which dealt with issues they might face in a funny way.
Could you give us a little insight into what your writing process is?
Because both books contain quite a strong mystery element, I plan those parts quite thoroughly. I plot out when various clues and red herrings are set up, and when they get paid off. Because the plots are quite intricate, I find that isn’t something I can just write and hope for the best. The relationship stuff, I plan the overall arcs for, so I know which characters might get together and what their emotional journeys will be, but I don’t plan exactly how they get there – I let that happen naturally as I write them. So, for me, writing is a mixture of planning and more spontaneous stuff.
Which scene in either book did you enjoy writing the most?
In Noah Could Never, it’s probably the scene with the cheese. You’ll know it when you read it. It’s very, very naughty, and yet not naughty at the same time, because it’s totally about cheese… and yet somehow seems more than that! Any scene that involves both Noah and Harry together is also enjoyable to write, as they’re both so cute together – and in book 2, it was really nice to be able to write more of that sort of stuff.
Thinking about diversity, the books about Noah and his life nail it quite well. This is a book the members of my book club wished they had as young teenagers. Do you think books about LGBT+ characters are still few and far between?
Well, it’s much better than it was and what’s been lovely is seeing how much more attention LGBTQ+ titles are getting now. I think the success of certain titles has hopefully shown that these books have the capacity to break out and appeal to the mainstream because, regardless of sexuality, they are damn good stories, with characters people relate to, love and get behind. Moving forwards, I would like to see a greater variety of stories: yes, we still need coming out stories, and stories where LGBTQ+ issues are front and centre of the plot, but we also need to see stories where sexuality is more incidental. And we need balance – we need sad, funny, tragic, adventure, thrillers – everything!
What about in films and TV? Do you think that with the release of the film Love, Simon that people will begin to change for the better?
I think that sort of thing helps, but it’s also easy to get wrapped up in our cosy YA bubble, which is generally full of some of the nicest, most open, accepting people you will ever find, and forget that LGBTQ+ people still face abuse, violence and threats on a daily basis, all over the world – and in the UK too. So, there is work to do, and all forms of media play a part in that, but we’re not there yet. But I do believe we are moving in the right direction, and we shouldn’t forget that a film like Love, Simon getting such widespread acclaim and attention, playing in major cinema chains, and making millions at the box office, that’s a massive bloody achievement and something that just wouldn’t have happened even ten years ago. I hope that’s not a one-off and there are plenty more like it.
Finally, do you think there will be more on the horizon for Noah and Harry?
Noah Could Never ends in a really nice place, but I could always write more about those boys! So, never say never, anything’s possible, and depending on how this sequel goes, and what Scholastic want, and if the TV show happens, there’s always the possibility of more…
Noah Could Never is out today! Hurry along to your nearest bookshop to pick up a copy!