Debut Author Spotlight: An Interview with Becky Albertalli

12:00 AM Serena 0 Comments

If you follow me on Twitter you're probably well aware of the fact that Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is one of my most anticipated debuts of 2015. So I was all sorts of excited when Becky, the author, agreed to do an interview for the blog. There was mild squealing involved. ANYWAY, now we're here, and it's interview time! YAY!


Now that we have McGonagall's approval we can really get this started. 
*PSA: My questions/butt-ins will be bolded, like so, and Becky's answers will be not-bolded, like so.*

How would you describe Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda in seven words or less?
You’ve Got Mail starring gay teenage boys.
Did you always want to be a writer? If not, how did you know that was “it” for you?
It’s funny – I actually did want to be a writer, desperately, when I was a kid, all the way through high school. Later, I put that dream aside to pursue a career as a psychologist, which seemed to offer a little more stability. And I loved being a psychologist! But I ended up leaving my job to stay home for awhile with my first son, and I found I had a little time to spare when he was napping. I figured I’d always regret it if I never gave writing one real shot, so I wrote my very first book at the age of 30. That book was SIMON. :-)
What/who was your inspiration for writing Simon (the book and/or the character)?
It’s hard to pinpoint any one source of inspiration for Simon, because in a lot of ways, his character just sort of revealed itself to me over time. I drew pretty heavily on my own experiences in high school, especially my involvement in high school theater (Serena sidenote: YAY for high school theater!). I think Simon’s character is more similar to my high school self than anyone, though he’s more self-assured than I was and way more charming (and he definitely gets more action than I got in high school). I would also say I was inspired by my work as a psychologist, though I’m very careful not to draw upon any material shared in therapy sessions. I did have the opportunity to spend several years working with LGBTQ and gender nonconforming kids and teenagers, and their general awesomeness was a big part of my inspiration for SIMON.
Who was your favorite character to write?
Other than Simon (and especially Drunk Simon), there’s a girl named Taylor who’s kind of on the edge of Simon’s social circle. She’s very competitive, and a little too proud of her amazing metabolism and photographic memory. I intended for her to be awful, but weirdly, I kind of fell in love with her. Except I also kind of hate her guts. Anyway, she was really fun to write.
Do you write to music? If so, what’s usually on your playlist?
I actually can’t write to music – I’m pretty distractible, so I do best in a quiet workspace. But when I’m working on a book, I try to listen to a lot of music in the car and when I’m not writing, since it really does help me get in the mindset of my characters. My favorite bands and artists are pretty similar to Simon’s: Elliott Smith, Jenny Lewis, Andrew Bird, etc. But actually, when I’m writing YA, I find it most helpful to listen to the music I liked when I was in high school – so, yup, Ben Folds Five is back to being a big part of my life!
Can you tell us anything about future books or projects?
Right now, I’m in the midst of heavy revisions on my second book with Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins. It’s a loose companion novel to SIMON, starring the best friend Abby left behind in Washington. DC. I don’t want to reveal too many details yet, but expect online chats, some complicated friend dynamics, and a chubby girl who gets the guy.
How do you plan to celebrate the release of your first ever novel?
With a launch party! It’s one of my favorite things to daydream about right now. It will be on April 11th at my favorite indie bookstore in the Atlanta area, Little Shop of Stories. Here’s a link with more information, in case any blog readers are interested in coming! (Serena sidenote: *wishes she were an Atlanta area person*).
(And I hope the local grocery stores have been keeping up their Oreo supplies, because I have some pretty delicious ideas for the party menu.)
And finally, the question everyone is asking (or maybe it’s just me…): What’s up with the Oreos?
I think I’ll have to keep people guessing until April 7th! But just in case, you should probably have a box of them ready to go when you start reading. :-)

Ah, darn. Guess I'll be kept in suspense for a little while longer. Not too long now, though! I can't wait to read Simon super soon and finally meet these awesome characters and find out about the Oreos. Thanks for being on the blog, Becky! :)

About Becky Albertalli:
Photo credit to Decisive Moment Events

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.  These days, she lives in Atlanta with her husband and two sons, and writes very nerdy contemporary young adult fiction. Her debut novel, SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA, releases from Balzer + Bray/HarperCollins on April 7th, 2015. Visit her website, find her on Goodreads, or send her a tweet.

About Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda:
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. 
Add it on Goodreads!

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is coming to bookstores everywhere on April 7th! You can preorder it now on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and The Book Depository.