Lucky students from across Sussex had the opportunity to meet author Simon James Green at a book signing event at Worthing High School.
Simon is an author, screenwriter and director. Although he did a law degree at Cambridge University, he decided he loved writing and directing too much to pursue a law career.
He has worked on many West End shows, including The Rocky Horror Show, Rent and West Side Story, and he has also directed Hollyoaks, in addition to writing screenplays.
Noah Can’t Even is his first novel and it won the bronze award at The Sussex Coast Schools’ Amazing Book Awards 2018.
Noah Can’t Even and the sequel, Noah Could Never, tell the story of one awkward teenage boy’s journey of self-discovery, aiming to tackle LGBTQ+ themes in a fun and accessible way.
Students from Durrington High School, Tanbridge House School in Horsham, Chatsmore Catholic High School in Goring, Bohunt School in Worthing, Hailsham Community College and Kings Academy in Ringmer spent the day at Worthing High School to meet Simon and hear about his career.
Sally Baker, Durrington High School study centre leader, said: “His writing really connects with teen readers. It has got all the classic teenage drama: dating disasters, embarrassing parents and horrendous social faux pas. I see him as the Adrian Mole for this generation.”
Briana McCann-Taylor, a year-nine reader from Durrington High who attended the event, loves the comic writing style.
She said: “Just when you think things cannot get worse for Noah, Simon manages to write something so funny and so ridiculous, but you can totally believe it happening.”
On meeting him and having the opportunity to ask questions, Durrington High students Elise Jeffery-Norton, Sasha Whelan and Cordelia Davis found the story of how he came to get the book published really interesting.
They could not believe how long it took him to write, re-write and edit the book before it got anywhere near publishing.
The students were also delighted there was a sequel, as they said Noah’s story is really only just getting started at the end of the first book.
Meeting the author also brought an opportunity to get an insight into Simon’s own life and discover where his ideas come from.
Student librarians from Worthing High School said he spoke of how he used some of his experiences of growing up to create the main character in his book, Noah.
The book starts off with Noah up a climbing frame in PE and Simon reflected to the students on his many awkward moments in his least favourite subject.
He said how the book is about a boy working out who he is and being brave enough to be that person, as well as telling the students how he wanted to make people laugh out loud as humour is powerful and it can tackle some serious situations.
Simon said both of his Noah books celebrate being gay, straight, geeky, cool, anything at all. They are about being yourself, finding yourself and loving yourself.
Year-eight Durrington High student Morgan Jones said: “You can see where he got a lot of ideas for events in the Noah novels. His own memories of PE lessons and school trips have helped make Noah’s stories all the more real and relatable.”
Students said it was a fantastic morning to meet someone they have great admiration for, providing an inspiring experience that has cemented their love of reading even further.