What gave you the idea to set SOCIAL QUEUE in the first months of university?
I was thinking a lot about bullying, particularly during the release of my first novel Please Don’t Hug Me, when I was getting DMs and emails from young people about their experiences with bullying in high school. I was very aware of not wanting to put young readers back in that experience itself, but wanting to show a character rebuilding their self-esteem and sense of self after the fact. So, it seemed like a hopeful and logical place to start, this post-high school, start of ‘real life’ time when you are still a teenager but finding your way towards what kind of person you want to be. It also felt like a natural progression from my first novel, although they are not linked in any way, because PDHM was set in the last few months of high school. I suppose there is some debate or discussion around whether or not a book is still YA if it is set after high school, but for me, I wrote the book for young readers, and I have always seen it as firmly in the YA readership space.
Your book has a cool title. But what might it have been called if it wasn’t called what it is now?
Thank you! My partner will be thrilled as he came up with the autistic pun while we were playing around with potential title ideas, so I can’t take credit for it at all. I just dived back into the folder on my computer and found it was first called autistic YA romcom, which has a certain ring to it, don’t you think? I had a list of title ideas, including the extended Zoe Kelly’s Social Queue, as well as Crushing It, One More Time With Feelings, Obvious, and Are You Mad At Me? That last one doesn’t even have anything to do with the plot, but it is a feeling I am very familiar with.As with my first novel, I like to brainstorm a heap of title ideas, but when I land on THE title, I usually know pretty quickly.
Why do you write for young adults?
What started as a purely self-motivated choice to revisit a particular time and age because I struggled with it, has grown into a desire to write stories for young people, particularly autistic young people, because life is weird and hard and messy, and art helps. Connecting with young readers has turned out to be the best part of this whole writing gig for me, so I want to keep doing it for as long as I can.
What are your perfect writing conditions?
I used to have a very set routine around my writing–what kind of tea I would drink, and what snacks I would have on hand. Now I am so time poor with my kid, and life, so all I dream about and need is an empty house. And a growing assortment of devices from my physio to try and stop me getting a sore back. Welcome to my 30s, I guess.
If you could take three things to a deserted island, what would they be?
Look, my very literal brain went straight to an EPIRB (Emergency Position Indicating Radio Broadcast). Get me off that deserted island as soon as possible, thank you. I love nature and being outdoors, but I am the last person who would ever sign up to go on Survivor or Alone or any of those kinds of shows. Normal life is enough of a challenge for me. So yes, an EPIRB, a water purifier or canister of some kind, and my own pillow from home. I can’t sleep without it.
Thank you so much Kay for answering all our questions and for taking part in our book of the month!