I’m an author and screenwriter and I sometimes do a bit of directing too. I actually did a Law degree at Cambridge University, but decided I loved writing and directing too much to go and be a lawyer. I’ve worked on lots of West End shows including The Rocky Horror Show, Rent and West Side Story and I’ve also directed Hollyoaks for Lime Pictures / C4. I write screenplays with my good friend Sarah Counsell, including Rules of Love, a feature-length musical rom-com for the BBC, which has since sold around the world. Noah Can’t Even was selected for the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators ‘Undiscovered Voices’ competition in 2016 and it’s my first novel.
Hello, Simon! Welcome to YA SH3LF. Can you tell us 3 random things about you?
My favourite books to read as a teenager were Agatha Christie novels – I adore murder mysteries! I really love cooking and find it very relaxing – I’m particularly good at desserts. I first wrote a book aged 12 – it was called ‘Toxic Danger!’ and I typed it up on my Gran’s typewriter.
What is your favorite part of writing books/being an author?
Meeting readers. It’s the best thing meeting people who have connected with your characters and have loved the book. And the really nice thing about the Noah books is that those people have ranged in age from as young as eleven or twelve, right through to people in their seventies and eighties. Honestly, it’s a real privilege and it reminds me why I write and what I love about it.
What book first made you realize that words have power?
I’m not sure there was ever a first book that made me realise that, but more a series of books read as a child and teenager that gradually made me see that words cam make you think, laugh, feel sad, reflect, and so on. For me, it was a dawning that words can really influence people, and then thinking how wonderful it would be if I could do that. And then I’m reminded of it whenever I meet readers or people email me and tell me the book has helped them or got them through a difficult time in their lives, as well as when I go to YA book conventions, and you see all these different people, all celebrating different books and different authors, but all there because words have had such a powerful impact on them.
What was your favorite scene to write in Noah Can’t Even, Noah Could Never and Noah Goes Nuclear?
In all three books, any scene that involves Noah and Harry being together is always ice to write just because they are so cute together. In Noah Could Never, I also really enjoyed writing the picnic scene with Pierre – it’s full of innuendo and I had a lot of fun with how awkward Pierre made Noah feel. Noah Goes Nuclear was fun to write all the way through because it’s basically a classic farce plot, with the wrong people in the wrong rooms and the consequences that ensue. Finally, my favourite scene in Noah Can’t Even is the one early on where he tries to make Sophie a cup of tea. I really enjoyed the level of detail in describing every catastrophic thing that happens as Noah tries to complete this really simple task!
What’s the most interesting thing you’ve ever researched for a book?
Haha! My Google search history always looks really incriminating! I did a lot of research about how to make fake diamonds and ways to smuggle them for Noah Could Never – that was quite interesting! And for various other projects I’m working on, I’ve researched everything from Cold War spies to ways of breaking into a secure vault.
What are your favorite LGBTQIAP+ reads, and which ones are you most looking forward to?
A few of my recent faves: Jack of Hearts (And other parts) by LC Rosen; Social Intercourse by Greg Howard; Running with Lions by Julian Winters; Flying Tips For Flightless Birds by Kelly McCaughrain; and Out of the Blue by Sophie Cameron. There are SO MANY great new titles coming out this year too – it’s really exciting! I can’t wait to read Julian Winter’s new book, How to be Remy Cameron – out later in 2019.
INTERVIEW : YA SH3LF