Author Chat with Becky Albertalli (Leah On The Offbeat)!
Today we're excited to chat with Becky Albertalli, author of Leah On The Offbeat.
Read on for more about Becky and her book!
Meet Becky Albertalli!
Becky Albertalli is the author of the acclaimed novels Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (film: Love, Simon), The Upside of Unrequited, and Leah on the Offbeat. She is also the co-author of What If It's Us with Adam Silvera. A former clinical psychologist who specialized in working with children and teens, Becky lives with her family in Atlanta.
Meet Leah On The Offbeat!
In this sequel to the acclaimed Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—now a major motion picture, Love, Simon—we follow Simon’s BFF Leah as she grapples with changing friendships, first love, and senior year angst.
When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.
She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.
~ Interview ~
YABC: What gave you the inspiration to write this book?
Leah on the Offbeat is a sequel to Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, so the inspiration largely comes from me not quite being ready to say goodbye to the Simon characters. Leah is the character whose story felt the most unfinished after Simon Vs. I loved getting the chance to live inside her head and revisit her friend group for their senior year at Creekwood High School. I particularly enjoyed having the chance to explore some of the events of Simon Vs through Leah’s perspective. Since Simon’s general cluelessness makes him an unreliable narrator in some ways, there was a lot of opportunity to play around with major events in Leah’s timeline that Simon totally missed. And so much of the heart of this book came from my conversations over the years with fans of Simon.
YABC: Who is your favorite character in the book?
I’m going to exclude Leah and Simon from the pool of possible answers, since the fact that I’ve written from their perspectives gives them an automatic advantage. Even so, it’s hard for me to pick just one favorite character! I’m always partial to Bram, who I think is so sweet and good, and probably the voice of reason in his friend group. Writing Leah On the Offbeat, I found Bram’s best friend Garrett to be surprisingly charming. But I keep coming back to Abby Suso – she’s so much messier, funnier, and nerdier than people necessarily realize, and I loved getting to explore that.
YABC: Which came first, the title or the novel?
The novel – titles are always hard for me. My titles always seem to end up being collaborative efforts from my agent, my editor, and me.
YABC: What scene in the book are you most proud of, and why?
I think I’m the most proud of prom – and not just because it was incredibly fun to write and easily the climax of the book. I think the prom scene was my way of pushing back against my natural tendency to want to tie my stories up neatly, leaving no emotional loose ends. That was never going to be realistic for this story and this group of friends, so I leaned into the messiness. It was really hard for me!
YABC: What do you like most about the cover of the book?
I absolutely adore the cover – the colors are so bold and perfect, and it’s so gorgeously eye-catching. But my favorite part of the cover, hands down, is the portrait of Leah. I’m so in love with this beautiful, badass fat girl unapologetically owning her story.
YABC: What new release book are you looking most forward to in 2018?
I’m excited about tons of upcoming releases, and I’ve had the opportunity to read many that I’ve adored. One that I’m dying to read is Mackenzi Lee’s The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy. I’m a ridiculous fan of all of Mackenzi Lee’s work, and The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue is my obsession. Monty’s little sister Felicity is one of my all-time favorite characters, so an entire book from her perspective is a dream come true.
YABC: What’s up next for you?
Next up is my October 2018 collaboration with Adam Silvera, What If It’s Us. This is a dual-perspective, Broadway-inspired contemporary love story about two boys who are either perfectly right or perfectly wrong for each other.
YABC: Which character gave you the most trouble when writing your latest book?
I think the hardest character for me to write was Nick (which was also true for Simon Vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda). I’ve always had a little trouble wrapping my mind around his character. He’s kind of purposefully a mess of contradictions. I do think he clicked for me a little more while writing Leah on the Offbeat – and actually, Jorge Lendeborg Jr’s amazing performance in the movie helped a lot with that. Nick has a bit of a rough journey in Leah on the Offbeat, so I think he required a little extra care and attention from me. I weirdly love him, even though he never fails to surprise and confuse me.
Claw machines. I’m actually pretty good at them!
YABC: Is there an organization or cause that is close to your heart?
I’m a huge fan of the Trevor Project, and they’ve been an incredible support for my community of readers over the past few years.
Leah On The Offbeat
By: Becky Albertalli
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 24th, 2018