The brilliantly witty Noah Can’t Even is the debut YA novel from Simon James Green. Delighted that he has stopped by to answer My Book Corner’s questions…
Tell us about you in 25 words or less.
Optimistic. Sarcastic. Gin. That pretty much sums it up. Oh, and I’m excellent at making passive aggressive comments under my breath to rude commuters.
What makes you happy?
Food. I love eating out and I love cooking – especially for friends. My lemon tart brings all the boys to the yard.
Where is your favourite place to write?
I have an office at the back of the house which is fairly quiet and overlooks trees, and that’s where I usually write, but my favourite place to write is this beautiful barn conversion I sometimes visit in deepest Devon. It’s blissfully quiet, there’s a little stream at the bottom of the lane, perfect country walks and a pub just a ten minute bike ride away that does great food. I’m not telling you where it is because it’ll get booked up and then I won’t be able to go!
What’s on your TBR pile at the moment?
So very much, I’m really behind. But OK, to name a few – The Goldfish Boy, Ink, Showstopper, History is All You Left Me, Damage and See How They Lie. I also really want to re-read The Catcher in the Rye, because I last read it when I was 16, and they do say you should re-read it as an adult because you’ll feel differently about it.
You have background in screenwriting and directing – were there any specific elements of those careers that fed into your novel writing?
My background certainly helped with character development, plotting and dialogue writing (or at least, I think it did, but I’ll let readers be the judge of that!). However, I also found I wasn’t used to writing the character’s internal thoughts on the page (I’m used to actors showing that in their performance, playing the subtext of a line and so on), so that was an element I had to work on.
What’s your worst habit?
Obsessively checking Amazon Author Central to see how my sales graph is looking. I’m ridiculous and I’m sure I’ll get over myself soon.
Your favourite word(s)?
My favourite words are: “Would you like to see the dessert menu?” There’s so much hope, promise and excitement in that fine collection of words.
What are your top tips for budding childrens’ writers?
Get feedback. If you can afford it, getting professional feedback from a freelance editor who does manuscript consultations will, in my experience, be the best investment you can make. But a writers’ group, or a likeminded friend, can work very well too.
What was your route to the publication for Noah Can’t Even?
So, I invested in 3 editorial reports on early drafts of the book and then became a member of the Golden Egg Academy, where my editor worked with me more on the book. I then entered SCBWI Undiscovered Voices and was one of the winners whose work was included in the 2016 anthology. Through being included I was contacted by over 20 agents from both the UK and USA who wanted to read the full manuscript and I eventually ended up signing with Jo Moult from Skylark Literary. I did some further editorial work with her and then she started sending it out on submission to publishers. I then signed a two-book deal with Scholastic last September. After more editorial work with my editor there, we were ready to go! In all, I’ve been working on the book for around five years, from my first steps plotting it to holding the finished thing in my hands.
Can you give us a glimpse / hint at your current WIP? (I can bribe you with cake & biscuits!)
Scholastic wanted a sequel to Noah Can’t Even, so that’s what I’m now working on! The first book does tell a self-contained story, but book two develops things further and, of course, unleashes a whole new set of problems on poor Noah!
Did we forget anything?
You might be interested to know that Noah has his own Twitter account and is making a complete nuisance of himself. If you must follow him, he’s @noahgrimes12. He also has a blog, which you can access via my website.
Just for fun
Tea or coffee? Tea first thing, then coffee mid-morning, then tea again in the afternoon.
Paper books or e-books? Paper books, always! I love holding them, smelling them (is that weird?) and putting them on shelves around the house.
Cake or chocolate? AFTER EIGHT MINTS!
Write or type? I plot using paper and pencil, but then type from there.
Poetry or prose? Prose, although Noah does sometimes write poems on his blog.
Gryffindor, Ravenclaw, Hufflepuff or Slytherin? OK, so this is going to be shocking, but I’ve never read any Harry Potter or seen any of the films. I know, I know. Please don’t send hate mail.
Hot or cold? Hot. Or at least, comfortably warm. Unless we’re talking ice cream, in which case I’d prefer it cold.