Congratulations on having your novel published. Tell us a little about the novel.
Noah Can’t Even is a coming-of-age comedy about a teenage boy who finds himself at odds with his cool classmates. When the amazing Sophie invites him to a party, he thinks everything could change, and it does… because he actually ends up kissing his best mate, Harry. From there, things get increasingly crazy for Noah, as he tries to hold his insane life together whilst working out how he really feels about that kiss.
Where did the idea/inspiration come from?
I knew I wanted to write something set in a small town, because that presents its own unique set of challenges – chiefly, the fact that there’s very little anonymity and that can really intensify the problems you face. I also really took on board a piece of writing advice that suggests continually making life worse and worse for your character – throwing all this crap at them and seeing what they do and how they cope. So, that’s what I did with Noah. In every chapter I’ve turned the screws just a little more and heaped more and more disasters on him. Horrible, right?! The poor kid’s only fifteen, it’s no wonder he hates me! I was also very keen to write something funny. I don’t think there are enough funny YA books out there. Laughter really is the best medicine, and in a world that’s increasingly gloomy and sometimes downright scary, I think we really need a good laugh.
Tell us about you…
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 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 SCBWI ‘Undiscovered Voices’ competition in 2016 and it’s my first novel.
Where and when do you write?
I’m very lucky to have a nice office at the back of the house, where I can shut myself away in relative peace (until the dogs decide they want food anyway!) In a typical week, I will usually have three days free to write, along with evenings and some weekends too.
What are you working on now?
I signed a two-book deal with Scholastic, so I’m now working on book two! It’s going to be a sequel to the first book, which I’m really excited about. The great thing about Noah is that you can put him in any situation and you just know he’ll somehow screw it up and end up in a desperately awkward mess!
Desert Island books?
Well, if there were space, I would obviously take ALL THE YA FICTION to the desert island. But assuming that’s not possible: The Liar by Stephen Fry, because I find it very funny; The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie, because it’s considered her masterpiece and it is very clever; The Catcher in the Rye – classic coming-of-age stuff and I haven’t yet done that thing where you’re supposed to re-read it when you’re older because you’ll feel differently about it; anything by David Levithan; and I guess some sort of survival guide about which types of wild berries you can eat without poisoning yourself.
Does writing energise or exhaust you?
There’s nothing more energising than being on a roll with a chapter, when the words just flow and it seems like they’re not terrible. I really enjoy the process of plotting and I don’t mind first drafts that much, or edits. The bit I’ve found really tiring is reading over everything at the copyediting and proof stages, because it gets to a point where it’s just words on a screen.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Stop trying to write that stupid novel for adults – you really like writing YA and you’re going to enjoy that a whole lot more! Also, the winning Euromillions numbers for 17th January 2017 to secure that £60 million jackpot are 4, 16, 25, 43, 47 and the lucky stars are 2 and 10.
What is the first book that made you cry?
I think I cried aged eight, when my brother whacked me in the face with a hardback copy of The Very Hungry Caterpillar – does that count? Other than that, I’m not sure I’ve ever cried… which probably means I’m probably emotionally stunted or something. That’s a great thing for a writer to be!
Finally, where can we get your book?
It’s available from all the usual outlets – including your lovely independent bookshop, as well as Waterstones, Foyles, Amazon, WH Smith, Hive… and if you would like a bit of bonus content, or to keep up to date with all my Noah related news, do visit me at www.simonjamesgreen.com