Q&A with Simon James Green
Simon James Green has had a banner year, publishing three absolutely hilarious new books for children of all ages. We sat down and asked him some of our burning questions about his latest book, Life of Riley.
1. What inspired you to write Life of Riley?
I’ve always been a fan of funny books and I’m a great believer in the power of laughter to help us through difficult times. As well as wanting to write something that was really entertaining and fun to read, I’ve been fascinated for a long time by the concept of ‘luck’ and whether it’s something that we have no control over, or, in fact, something we can influence by behaving in certain ways or having a certain outlook on life.
2. You’ve written a few YA books and even a picture book now, but this is your first middle-grade novel. What was the most challenging thing about writing for a new audience?
Probably the process of fully immersing yourself in the world and mind set of a new age group. For years, I’ve basically been writing from the point of view of a teenage boy, and they have a very specific set of concerns and interests that tend to occupy their minds! Riley is ten, so I really had to work hard to take myself back to that place.
3. What do you hope young readers take away from the book?
I wanted kids to take away the message that life has many ups and downs, but you need to find ways of being resilient and not letting that get you down. Friendship is one of the key themes of the book, and I also hope young readers see that having a good friend, and also being a good friend, is a really important thing, and a great way to face life’s challenges together.
4. The theme of friendship is so delightfully strong in Life of Riley. Do you have any fun memories with your friends when you were Riley’s age that inspired the relationship between Brad and Riley?
I’m very lucky to have great memories of being Riley’s age, which is a time of life when I think you can first experience quite intense friendships, where you do everything together and you’re sort of this unbeatable force against the world… or at least, your parents and teachers! I have hilarious memories of the detective agency I set up with a friend, as well as the ghost-hunting agency (we also hunted vampires, goblins, etc. which are a huge problem in rural Lincolnshire), and even a small craft shop, selling bookmarks and potpourri! We were very enterprising.
5. Luck plays a huge role in Life of Riley. Are you superstitious about anything? Do you avoid black cats or walking under ladders?
Ha! Well, I like to say that I’m not at all superstitious, but then I’ll be in the park walking my dog, see a single magpie, and before you know it, I’ll be shouting ‘Hello Mr Magpie! How’s your wife and daughter?!’ so I guess that probably means I am!
6. What have been your favourite new reads of 2020?
My recent reads have all been YA, but I loved Boy Queen by George Lester and Wonderland by Juno Dawson.
Llama Glamarama was Simon’s first book of the year, a hilarious, rhyming picture book story with a powerful message about celebrating differences. Find out more here
Download a toe-tappingly fun party kit here: At Home Party Pack
Heartbreak Boys, published in August, is a hilarious story romcom full of heartbreak, hijinks and summer fun. Find out more here
Life of Riley is the utterly hilarious middle-grade novel about a ridiculous amount of bad luck and one boy’s quest to get rid of it, published in September. Find out more here
Download a Life of Riley themed activity pack here: Activity Pack
Head to our Chapter One site to see Simon reading Llama Glamarama AND the first chapter of Life of Riley! More here