Love YA Valentine's Feature - Day 1 + Giveaway

Hey guys, sorry I haven't been around a lot, I had two midterms on the same day and at the same time I'm attempting to write a kick-ass essay to get into a local University, which is taking up a large part of my time.  Good news though, I totally owned both of my exams, so at least there's that! Between those things I haven't had a ton of time to read, but I'm hoping I will once I get this application in.  All of that being said I have been working on something super cool for you guys. 

Now, as you may know Valentine's Day is coming up, and while I plan on celebrating alone on my couch watching horror movies I do love a good book that's all about the fluffy romance, so I reached out to a few authors with books that fit that description and I was able to score a few interviews.  I haven't decided yet if I'll post them all in succession or if I'll split them up, two this week before Valentine's Day and two next week after it, but if you have a preference do let me know in the comments.  I've gathered four interviews with some pretty awesome authors to celebrate this not-really holiday and I hope that you guys will stick around and check them all out. 

Also, look at this adorable graphic I made! You guys, I'm super proud of myself for this.

Okay, so anyway, I initially thought I would only ask authors with books coming out this year, but then I thought that that was no fun, because you might not be able to read those books for a while, so I asked the author of one of my favorite books from LAST year to participate, and she just so happened to find the time to answer my questions, so for Day 1 of the Love YA (see what I did with the name there?) Valentine's feature I'm SO happy to present to you

Becky Albertalli

Becky is the author of the absolutely AMAZING novel

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

which is just about the most adorable book you'll ever read (or well, at least one of them).

The Interview;

Once Upon A Teen Reader: I'm sure you get this question ALL the time, so my apologies for that, but I'm curious why you decided to write a novel from a gay teenage boy's POV, seeing as you are NOT a gay teenage boy.

Becky Albertali: It’s funny – I can’t quite remember making a conscious decision to write a gay teenage boy POV! It felt mostly like this character showed up in my head and became real for me, and he turned out to be a gay teenage boy who loves Oreos. J But one of the reasons I felt comfortable taking the risk of writing a gay boy POV is that I had years of experience working with the gay community as a psychologist. I never want my fiction to feel clinical, and I certainly didn’t draw upon those clinical experiences when creating Simon’s character, but I had that knowledge base that I could draw upon to better understand some of Simon’s experiences and to avoid stereotypes.

OUATR:  Simon is falling for a guy who he hasn't met (or at least, someone he doesn't know he's met), what prompted you to write the story where Simon didn't know who the person he might be falling in love with is? Do you think it's easier to fall in love with someone before you've actually met them in person or after?

BA: I actually have no idea which is easier! I think every person’s love story is different. In Simon’s case, I really did want to show this relationship unfolding online, because I think that’s an important (and under-explored) way that modern teens connect with each other. And it’s even more important for LGBTQIAP+ teens, especially those who live in communities where there aren’t many people who are visibly out. Kids like Simon may not be out, or they may not know how and where to find gay peers offline. For those teens who need it, the internet has made it possible to reach out to peers privately and anonymously.

OUATR: Unlike so many YA novels out there Simon knows he's gay from the start of the book, as opposed to figuring it out along the way.  What was your reason behind setting up the story that way?

BA: You know, I think that was all just part of Simon’s backstory. He figured it out in middle school. Some kids know sooner, and some put it together later. I guess that choice simply felt the most in-character for Simon.

OUATR: The romance you've written is just so gosh-darn adorable, how did you go about writing it?

BA: Thank you so much! I honestly have no idea. My creative process is a huge mystery to me. There were times when I was drafting pieces of the story (ESPECIALLY the email chapters), and the characters just started talking. I mostly just tried to connect with my own memories of having crushes and falling in love, and I tried to trust my instincts.

OUATR: Along with the romantic element of the novel a huge part of the book is about Simon and how he allows himself to be who he really is with other people.  To me the big takeaway of the novel was that embracing who you are is one of the most important things you can do, but I'm wondering what YOU hope people take away from SIMON and his story.

BA: I actually don’t have a specific takeaway message! I’ve found that different people will draw entirely different messages from the story, and I really love and value that. I think our life experiences shape us as readers. A book’s meaning truly varies based on the person reading it.

Fast Five;

1. What is your favorite rom-com movie (or TV show)?  So, this isn’t exactly a rom-com, but my OTP is Jim and Pam from the American version of The Office. I will never be over the perfection of that love story.

2.  Do you have a favorite candy to eat/receive around Valentine's day?  I’m pretty happy with most chocolate, but truthfully, I like Cadbury Mini Eggs better than Valentine candy! Sometimes grocery stores start getting them in around Valentine’s Day, too. J

3. If you sent Valentine's day cards this year what theme would the be or who/what would they have on them?  To be entirely honest: trains. Or trucks. I have two toddlers, so trains and trucks are basically my life right now.

4. What adorable YA contemporary would you recommend / are you excited to read?  A few that are so adorable, I can’t even think about them without smiling:

ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS by Stephanie Perkins

One that I’m really excited about: THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY by Lauren Morrill. I’ve loved literally everything Lauren has ever written. This one’s been taunting me from my nightstand.

5. Do you have a favorite romance trope? (ie friends to lovers, opposites attract, strangers falling in love, ect. It doesn't have to be what you wrote either.)  I think I like a lot of the tropes, when they’re done well! But my favorite is probably slow burn friends to lovers. 

The Book;

Title: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Series: n/a
Published April 7, 2015
Add it on Goodreads

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.

The Author;

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. She now lives with her family in Atlanta.
Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda is her first novel.

Find her on Her Website | Twitter | Tumblr

The Giveaway;

You guys, this is a super duper AMAZING giveaway. Because I love Becky and her book so much I'm giving away a copy of SIMON VS. THE HOMO SAPIENS AGENDA to one lucky winner but Becky, BECKY has said that she will get Simon himself to send a personalized valentine to the winner!  It's still considered bad form to enter you own giveaway, right? Because I REALLY want the thing. So you all better go enter!  (If you already have a copy of SIMON but you still want to enter for the personalized valentine go for it, you can just pick one of Becky's YA contemp picks).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And be sure to check back tomorrow for another interview with another amazing YA contemporary author! (And a giveaway!)


  1. Aw, thanks for the lovely interview! It's always interesting to see how characters and story lines come to the author. I really would love to own a copy of this one - it was a 2015 favorite for me! Happy Early Valentine's Day!!! Thanks for the interview/giveaway.


  2. i really loved Simon Vs. it was such a sweet read. i also really love Oreos ^_^

  3. Becky is the best and receiving a Valentine from Simon would be amazing. Thanks for the giveaway and looking forward to rest of your event posts!

  4. Aw, this post was amazing! Great interview questions and amazing answers. (Personal note about me, I had the biggest grin on my face when you mentioned Cadbury Mini Eggs, because I love those too! They are my absolute favorite! :)


  5. Omg I looooove this book! And the interview was intensely amazing!! Honestly, this was one of my favourite books of 2015. I loved how real and natural Simon and the other characters' voices were?!? LIKE THE FELT LIKE REAL PEOPLE AND I WANTED TO BEFRIEND THEM FOREVER. (And eat all their oreos...but still.)

  6. I haven't read this book yet. But it seems the kind of romance I will like. And thanks too for the recommendations.

  7. Great, seriously fascistic interview! Dying to read this now! SIMON is already next on my tbr list.

  8. Ooh, oreos!!! Great interview! I've heard great things about this one, but have yet to pick it up. Hoping to get to it soon, though!

  9. While I havent read the book yet this interview has definetly made me super interested! Sounds like a great read and I can't wait to get my hands on it:)

  10. While I havent read the book yet this interview has definetly made me super interested! Sounds like a great read and I can't wait to get my hands on it:)