Bieke & Rachel Interview Becky Albertalli

Posted November 4, 2015 by Bee in Interviews & Guest Posts / 13 Comments

Today we’re extremely happy to welcome Becky Albertalli to our blog for an interview! We both loved this book a lot, it’s my (Bieke) favorite book of the year so far and an all-time favorite now and Becky is one of my favorite persons in the world. Before we start, here’s a bit about the book!

Bieke & Rachel Interview Becky Albertalli

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda


by Becky Albertalli
Published on April 7th 2015
by Balzer + Bray
Genres: Contemporary, Romance, LGBT
Amazon | B&N | Goodreads

Also by this author: Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, Simon VS the Homo Sapiens Agenda, The Upside of Unrequited, Leah On The Offbeat

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.

Interview

Bee: Hey Becky, I’m so happy to have you here! To start, could you share a bit about yourself and when you started writing?

Becky: So happy to be here, and thanks! I’m Becky, and I’m the author of SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA. I’m actually a licensed clinical psychologist, though I don’t currently practice psychology. I’ve always loved to write, and I’ve been writing stories since I was in preschool. However, I didn’t start writing with the goal of publication until 2013. I had left my full-time job as a therapist after my older son was born, and I decided to take one shot at writing the novel I’d always wanted to write. That novel turned out to be SIMON.

Bee: How did Simon & Blue’s story come to be?

Becky: Honestly, it’s hard for me to pinpoint how this story came to be. So much of my writing process is really organic. I would almost say the character of Simon came into my head, and I followed him to find the story.

Rachel: Did you intentionally plan Simon vs the Homo Sapiens to be a diverse book or did the story just unravel that way?

Becky: I wrote Simon before the existence of We Need Diverse Books, and before I was aware of any of the conversations surrounding diversity within the YA community. However, it was important to me for this book to try to reflect the diversity of the world that I live in. I always knew Simon would be gay, so that was certainly planned. However, many of Simon’s insights about race and privilege were things he and I learned together along the way.

Bee: Can you tell us about the journey this awesome book made? From being born in your imagination to being published and become my favorite book of 2015.

Becky: Thank you so much – what an honor!!

Simon’s publication story is truly a publishing fairy tale. I wrote the book over a period of about five months, and revised it with my critique partner. I then brought the first few chapters to a local writing conference (the Atlanta Writers’ Conference), which was the first conference I’ve ever attended, and also my first time publicly identifying myself as a writer! I met with agents for critique and pitch sessions, but I also attended an informal mixer with agents, editors, and fellow writers. I met my agent, Brooks Sherman, at that mixer. I revised after the conference, and sent out my first queries. Brooks requested my full manuscript almost immediately, and offered representation five days after receiving my query. I spent a little over a week deciding among a few agent offers, and ultimately signed with Brooks in early December of 2013. He sold my book to HarperCollins in four days.

Rachel: There’s been a lot of buzz with the #WeNeedDiverseBooks campaign lately, and it’s been amazing. What do you think it’s the biggest issue we are facing with tackling this problem, and what do we need to change most?

Becky: I’m a huge fan of WNDB, and the organizers have really helped me understand how many different interrelated issues are at play. Clearly, there’s an ongoing need for more accurate and positive representation of marginalized groups, and there’s a particular need for books written by authors from marginalized backgrounds. My understanding is that the barriers to improving this representation are multifaceted and complex. We need more marginalized voices in publishing working behind the scenes to acquire, promote, and market these books.

Bee: Can we hope for more Simon and Blue in the future? And what are you working on at the moment?

Becky: I don’t think I’ll ever write a direct sequel to SIMON, because I would hate to introduce conflict into Simon and Blue’s relationship! However, I’d love to revisit Shady Creek one day, possibly from another character’s perspective. I’m also currently revising my second book, which is a loose companion to SIMON, starring the friends and family Abby left behind in DC. I believe it’s now scheduled to release sometime early in 2017.

Rachel: What recommendations do you have of some other fantastic LGBT+ for Simon fans?

Becky: This is one of my favorite questions!!

MORE HAPPY THAN NOT by Adam Silvera
STILL LIFE LAS VEGAS by James Sie
HOW TO REPAIR A MECHANICAL HEART by J.C. Lillis
FANS OF THE IMPOSSIBLE LIFE by Kate Scelsa
EVERYTHING LEADS TO YOU by Nina LaCour
NONE OF THE ABOVE by I.W. Gregorio
GEORGE by Alex Gino
NOT OTHERWISE SPECIFIED and GONE, GONE, GONE by Hannah Moskowitz
BETTER NATE THAN EVER and FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, NATE by Tim Federle
(also, coming next year: THE GREAT AMERICAN WHATEVER by Tim Federle)
FAR FROM YOU by Tess Sharpe
UNDER THE LIGHTS by Dahlia Adler
LIES WE TELL OURSELVES by Robin Talley
THE BIG SUMMER by Jamie Laurie
TWO BOYS KISSING by David Levithan
ANYTHING COULD HAPPEN by Will Walton
ASK THE PASSENGERS by A.S. King
CODA by Emma Trevayne
IF YOU COULD BE MINE by Sara Farizan
GRACEFULLY GRAYSON by Ami Polonsky
THE ART OF WISHING and THE FOURTH WISH by Lindsay Ribar
OTHERBOUND by Corinne Duyvis
THE MISEDUCATION OF CAMERON POST by Emily Danforth
ONE MAN GUY by Michael Barakiva
ASH by Malinda Lo
GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE by Andrew Smith
ARISTOTLE AND DANTE DISCOVER THE SECRETS OF THE UNIVERSE by Benjamin Alire Saenz
I’LL GIVE YOU THE SUN by Jandy Nelson
WILL GRAYSON, WILL GRAYSON by David Levithan and John Green
OPENLY STRAIGHT by Bill Konigsberg
RAINBOW BOYS by Alex Sanchez
PROXY by Alex London

And a few more I haven’t read yet, but come highly recommended by people I trust!
TELL ME AGAIN HOW A CRUSH SHOULD FEEL by Sara Farizan
CARRY ON by Rainbow Rowell
YOU AND ME AND HIM by Kris Dinnison
THE FIVE STAGES OF ANDREW BRAWLEY by Shaun David Hutchinson
STARRING KITTY by Keris Stainton
BLACK IRIS by Leah Raeder
PANTOMIME by Laura Lam
THE SUMMER I WASN’T ME by Jessica Verdi

Bee: Oh goodie! A million new books to add to my already humongous TBR! What is the best part of being an author for you?

Becky: Hands down, the best part is getting to connect with readers. I’ve always said that publishing a book is the quickest way to find your soulmates.

Bee: Any wise words for aspiring authors like myself?

Becky: I never feel right giving specific advice, since I truly believe that everyone’s process and journey are so different. I’ll say that for me, it was so helpful to connect with the YA community. My relationships with fellow authors, writers, bloggers, readers, booksellers, librarians, and industry professionals have helped me grow so much as a writer and as a person.

Rachel: And most importantly, do you love Oreos as much as Simon?

Becky: Absolutely.

Bee: Thank you so much for stopping by, Becky! I look forward to reading all of your future books and hope that I can meet you one day!

Rachel: It was so great to hear these little tidbits about the development of Simon from you, Becky. We all look forward to seeing what you come up with next, and thanks for stopping by!

Bee

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