Hey guys! I hope you’re all having a great Pride month! To celebrate Scholastic’s #readwithpride campaign, today I’ve got something exciting for you: An interview with Simon James Green, author of the hilarious Noah Can’t Even, which I definitely recommend you give a read. (You can check out my review here.)
Hi Simon, thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! I loved Noah Can’t Even and it’s a real pleasure to have you on my blog.
Thank you very much! It’s a pleasure to be here!
Could you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
I grew up in a small town in Lincolnshire which wasn’t the inspiration for Little Fobbing – honest! I originally did a Law degree at Uni, but decided I didn’t want to actually be a lawyer, as it’s basically fairly hideous. So I went into theatre instead, working as a director on various shows. Gradually, I started doing more writing, which I found I enjoyed a lot more, and in between writing screenplays, I also started writing novels.
When did you decide to start writing Noah Can’t Even and why?
I started it about 5 years ago. I’d just had an adult novel rejected by just about everyone and one piece of feedback I received was ‘I think you should be writing YA.’ So I did. I’d always loved coming-of-age stories anyway, so the YA world suited me perfectly. I also knew I wanted to write a story about a teenage boy who was questioning his sexuality and, more importantly, I knew I wanted it to be funny. I’m a big fan of funny and I really didn’t feel there was enough funny stuff around.
Noah Can’t Even has some pretty hilarious mishaps in it, were any inspired by true events?
None of the bigger mishaps in the book actually happened exactly as described, (thank god!) but a lot were certainly inspired by events that happened, which I then adapted and expanded upon. For example, some people are quite mean to Noah in the book, and that came out of real life events for me… like the time some bigger boys said the only reason they threw me across the playing field was because I was so skinny they mistook me for a Javelin. Horrible at the time, but it’s all material now!
What is your favourite thing about writing?
Getting genuinely lost in a world you’ve created is a wonderful thing and you can find that hours have passed and you’ve no concept of what reality is any more. Similarly, getting to the point where you know your characters so well that they’re totally real to you is a really nice feeling. It feels like Noah is with me all the time… hanging around, making snippy and sarcastic little comments about everything… he’s a nightmare, he really is.
Can you tell us a little about your writing process?
My first step is a blank A4 page and a pencil, on which I make diagrams and notes – random scribbles connected by various lines and arrows. Out of this, comes a rough map of the novel. From there, I like to do an outline that charts the main plot points and how things hang together. However, I allow myself a lot of freedom when I start writing and I often deviate from the plan. I often find that things I’d never thought of suddenly appear when I’m writing a chapter, so I always explore them.
Do you have any specific music you like to listen to while writing?
I actually can’t listen to anything whilst I’m writing – I find it too distracting. However, I do have a number of songs I will listen to when I’m gearing myself up to write and because Noah’s gran is a big fan of 80’s music in the book, a few of them are classic 80’s tunes, like Alive and Kicking by Simple Minds, or We Built This City by Starship.
What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Because I’m used to writing screenplays, I’m not used to getting a character’s internal monologue onto the page in the way you need to with a book, so that was a big thing to get me head around. Early drafts of Noah were very dialogue heavy, so I needed to fix that.
Which writers inspire you?
Sue Townsend for sure, because I loved Adrian Mole as a teenager, and I found a lot of inspiration for Noah from those books. I’m also a big fan of Stephen Fry because I think he’s very funny – my favourite book of his is The Liar.
How do you switch off and unwind when you’re not writing?
I watch Riverdale on Netflix. 😉
As I have a lot of aspiring authors reading this blog, is there any advice or words of wisdom you’d like to give them?
You need to get feedback – having a fresh pair of eyes on your work in invaluable. So, whether it’s a local crit group, or paying for an editorial report from a freelance editor, or whether you join a group like the Golden Egg Academy – get other people’s opinions and think about what you can do to improve your writing to address their notes. Accept that the road to publication is a long one and make peace with that, but also never give up the faith that it can happen.
You can find out more about Simon by checking out the following links:
Thanks Simon for the interview! And for the lovely Olivia Horrox at Scholastic for organising it.
Thanks for reading-has anyone read Noah Can’t Even yet? What did you think of it?