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My First Time...with Simon James Green

Simon James Green has worked extensively as a director for stage and television. He directed Hollyoaks for C4 and co-writes screenplays such as Rules of Love, a feature-length teen rom-com for the BBC. His first feature film, The Infinity Boys, is currently in development. Simon brings his gifts for drama, humour and pitch-perfect character development to bear in his first novel, the opening chapters of which won him selection for SCBWI's Undiscovered Voices 2016.

Simon James Green

Here's the blurb for Noah Can't Even...

Poor Noah Grimes. His father disappeared years ago, his mother's Beyoncé tribute act is an embarrassment, and his beloved gran is no longer herself.

School is... well, it's pure hell.

Noah wishes he could be normal, like everyone else at school. Maybe if he struck up a romantic relationship with someone that would help... maybe Sophie, who is perfect and lovely. Maybe then he'd be seen in a different light?

But Noah's plans are completely derailed when his only friend, Harry, kisses him at a party.

Describe the exact moment you decided to write your book.

I’d just had yet another rejection for this bloody awful (wannabe literary fiction) adult book I’d written. I thought, screw this, I’ll just write the thing I really want to write. So, I did: a funny, coming-of-age story about a teenage boy questioning his sexuality.

What’s the one thing you wish you’d known before starting to write it?

There’s not really any such thing as the ‘final edit.’ Still now, I could happily tour bookshops with some Tippex and a biro and make various tweaks. But at some point, you just have to let it go. Also, the whole path to publication takes forever and is fraught with stress and anxiety.

What’s your go-to procrastination method?

Watching Riverdale on Netflix and pretending that a half-naked KJ Apa is, in some way, research.

What was the biggest tantrum you had while writing your book?

I was really ‘in’ to a chapter when a man came knocking, asking if I wanted to buy a tea towel, scissors or any of the other crap in his crate. “All I want,” I snapped, “is peace and quiet!” He went away and then I spent the rest of the day consumed with guilt because he was just trying to make a living and I’d been snippy with him. But the tea towels were grossly overpriced, so only a fool would have purchased.

Best thing about writing your book?

In Noah, I’ve found a character I really adore spending time with. Turns out I prefer him to most of my actual friends. Shame he’s not old enough to go out drinking with. Or real.

And the worst?

The worry never ends. “Will I get an agent?” “Will I get a publishing deal?” “Will the publishers come back with a better deal?” “Will anyone actually buy the book?” “Will I get slagged off on Twitter?” “Will the publishers want a second book?” “Will there be any foreign sales?” “How many books should I be selling anyway?” “Oh shit, I’ve accidentally left my laptop in that barn in Devon, turn the car around… yes, I know we’re nearly at Bristol but the entire novel is on that computer!”

Go-to writing snacks?


Who or what inspires you to write?

I know I should say something like ‘seeing all the hurt in the world and wanting to create great art to heal’ but it’s more like the fact I’ve got a massive credit card bill and I’d quite like to pay some of it off before they send the bailiffs round, to be honest.

The book that changed you?

Has to be Adrian Mole. Discovering those books as a 13 year old was the best thing ever. Suddenly, here was a boy, surprisingly (alarmingly?), similar to me, going through so much of the same stuff I was. It was the first time I’d read a book and seen myself represented on the pages – and that’s a really powerful thing. And it reminds me how important it is that everyone gets the chance to see themselves in the pages of a book and why we need the whole spectrum of diverse voices to have books out there.

Your pump up song?

'Go West' by the Pet Shop Boys.

If you could share a bottle of wine with one writer dead or alive, who would it be?

Sue Townsend. I loved Adrian Mole, and those books definitely influenced Noah Can’t Even. We would drink and share stories of hilariously geeky teenage boys. Failing that, Stephen Fry, because it would just be fabulous, and why wouldn’t you?

One piece of advice you’d give first time writers hoping to get a book published?

Getting paid editorial feedback from a professional editor is probably the best investment you will ever make in your writing career.


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