Interview with Author, Becky Albertalli 
By: Emery R.

            Whilst at the Decatur Book Festival I got the chance to interview Becky Albertalli, the author of the book Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda, which was long listed for a National Book Award For Young People's Literature in 2015. Thank you so much to Diane Capriola of Little Shop of Stories for organizing the interview, and thank you to Becky Albertalli for agreeing to it!

Lime Green Giraffe: How was Simon born? How did you think of him?

Becky Albertalli: In a lot of ways his voice came very naturally to me. It was kind of organic. One thing I did for developing his character was I went back and re-read my journals from when I was a teenager. That was really helpful. I think my advice for any teen authors is to keep a journal. It's an investment in your future writing if you ever choose to write YA. It's amazing because I read them and it brings me right back. I think that was a big part of Simon's birthing.

LGG: I just started high school. I know you remember that time in your life pretty vividly so I was wondering what advice you could give me or any other person starting high school?

BA: All the things you think are really important. You see them differently. It's not that they're not important when you look back on them, but they're different. When I look back on high school it's definitely the friendships that got me through the tough times. I would also say find an adult who you can trust. For me it was my drama teacher. 

LGG: We're you ever a Girl Scout?

BA: I love the Girl Scouts and I definitely was a Girl Scout. I was a Brownie and a Junior Girl Scout. I don't know if we were officially Cadettes though. We got to the point where we were meeting but out of uniform. It turned very casual. I love the organization and I love the cookies. I think they've been very progressive over the years.

LGG: What time of the day do you write and why?

BA: For me a lot of it is just the logistics of my life. I have childcare for my little one and my older son is in school. I write mostly from nine to one, which is when our babysitter is there. Sometimes I can squeeze in a little more time but my kids are definitely not the kind of kids who I'll let me write all day.

LGG: How do you know when a good idea is a good idea?

BA: I've never been asked that question. That's an amazing question. I am the kind of author where if I cannot get 100-percent involved in the idea then it won't turn into an actual book. It's really hard to find an idea that you can really commit to.


LGG: What is your advice for the times when you just don't want to write another word?

BA: I had this epiphany when I thought writing is like working out. I don't always like how I feel doing it, but I love how I feel after I've done it. Sometimes it's like a solid wall and I just need to step back, but it's about trying to be disciplined. A novel is so hard since it's such a big project. You're putting everything into a task that you're not going to finish today or the next day.

LGG: What roles do Oreos have in your writing?

BA: They are my fuel and my only source of calories. I like a whole Oreo dipped in milk. Cookie and cream are best together.

LGG: Have you written anything other than Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda?

BA: It really is my first novel. My aunt did find a picture book somewhere about animals that all lived in a forest together that I wrote when I was little. I basically plagiarized the Lorax in the early stages of my career.

LGG: Why do you think people remember their teenage years so vividly?

BA: Part of it is that there are a lot of firsts. You're experiencing a lot of big things for the first time. I do think there's something maybe hormonal. I think there's a biological or hormonal component to that. The kind of crushes you have then are really different and intense. I've fallen in love as a teenager and as an adult and I wouldn't say one was better than the other, but as a YA author I want to honor that intensity of the teenage years.

LGG: Did you originally intend for Simon to sort of look like Harry Potter?

BA: As far as how Simon looks, that just popped into my head!

LGG: What do you want people to take away from this book?

BA: I think that after a certain point, you have to recognize that everybody has a valid opinion and interpretation of your novel, and I try not to take that away.

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