Hi everyone! Harper Week is continuing and today we have the most fantabulous thing ever: an interview with Becky Albertalli! If you’re not sure why this is significant, it’s because she wrote one of my favourite books of the year and is just an amazing human being. Her book, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is seriously amazing and I want you all to read it!
About the Author
Becky Albertalli is a clinical psychologist who has had the privilege of conducting therapy with dozens of smart, weird, irresistible teenagers. She also served for seven years as co-leader of a support group for gender nonconforming children in Washington, DC. She now lives with her family in Atlanta.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is her first novel.
About the Book
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
Released April 7th 2015, Balzer + Bray imprint
Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now Simon is actually being blackmailed: if he doesn’t play wingman for class clown Martin, his sexual identity will become everyone’s business. Worse, the privacy of Blue, the pen name of the boy he’s been emailing, will be compromised.
With some messy dynamics emerging in his once tight-knit group of friends, and his email correspondence with Blue growing more flirtatious every day, Simon’s junior year has suddenly gotten all kinds of complicated. Now, change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he’s pushed out—without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he’s never met.
Q: Please describe your book in six words!
Gay email love story with Oreos!
Q: Where did the inspiration for Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda come from?
It’s actually hard for me to pinpoint the inspiration for Simon, because it feels like he sort of appeared in my head, demanding to be written about. I do know that many of his experiences, thoughts, and feelings were inspired by my own experiences as a teen. I also worked for years as a clinical psychologist, especially with LGBT and gender nonconforming youth. While I was extremely careful not to borrow any of my clients’ stories, in a general sense, I was very inspired by their wisdom, humor, and courage.
Q: Simon is an awesome gay teen (this is my opinion, but I feel like this should be fact!), was it hard to place yourself in Simon’s shoes and find his voice?
It actually wasn’t hard at all for me to connect with Simon and find his voice! Believe it or not, Simon’s voice is fairly similar to my own voice, even though I’m a thirty-two-year-old, straight, married mom. So much of my process writing SIMON was really organic.
Q: You mentioned in previous interviews thatSimon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is considered a coming-out story, and that those stories are important. Do you think that coming-out stories are disappearing from YA and what’s your opinion on that?
I don’t think they’re disappearing at all, thankfully! There’s such a range of incredible LGBTQIA+ stories either recently or soon-to-be published, and many of them deal with issues surrounding coming out. I have heard some readers and industry professionals discuss coming out stories as no longer relevant, and I strongly disagree with that. However, I think there’s been an increased call for all kinds of LGBTQIA+ narratives, including coming out stories! It’s been amazing to see that, and to be a part of that conversation.
Q: What’s your writing style? Do you prefer to write an outline or figure it out as you go?
Honestly, I’m still figuring out my process! I do try to outline, but I tend to deviate from my outlines, sometimes pretty dramatically. I definitely fall somewhere in between “plotter” and “pantser.” I think I’m naturally pretty disorganized, so the structure of an outline is simultaneously really challenging and really helpful for me.
Q: Are you planning on sticking to contemporary YA or are you planning on branching out?
I don’t know exactly what the future will bring, but for now, I’m really thrilled to be writing in the contemporary YA space. I’m so passionate about realistic stories, especially romantic, funny, diverse YA.
Q: Lastly, I’m dying to know: what’s next for you?
Right now, I’m in the process of rewriting a loose companion to SIMON, set in the same universe, but featuring mostly different characters.
(^^^ DID YOU ALL READ THAT?! DID YOU?! DID YOU?! *fangirls* *flails*)
Thank you so much Becky for answering all of our questions!