#LGBTQMonth: Author Interview – Claire Hennessy!

Hello all!
Claire Hennessy is such a talented writer and I adore her books so much so naturally, I was over the moon when I found out she agreed to an interview! She is the author of Nothing Tastes as Good and most recently, (the heavily inclusive) Like Other Girls! If you haven’t read either, then I urge you to read both right now! Check out her interview below!

1. As a writer, what would you choose as your spirit animal? 
I am pretty sure someone will yell at me for cultural appropriation if I answer this…

2. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be? 
Put the writing first and worry less about exams. You’re a writer, not an academic. Stop thinking that exams will validate you as a person. No really, stop.

​3. What was harder to write – Nothing Tastes As Good or Like Other Girls? 
They were both tricky in different ways but neither were soul-destroying. I’m not a big fan of the ‘tortured artist’ idea – there are much harder jobs out there.

4. Are you friends with any other authors? If so, how do they help you to become a better writer? 
I am indeed. I think it’s more about moral support than anything technical or craft-wise – justifying the time that you’re taking to work on a book, especially if it’s not your full-time job (which it isn’t for most people).

5. Have you ever gotten reader’s block? 
Oh, this is a really good question. Yes, totally – because I have always studied or worked at things that involve a lot of reading, there are definitely periods of burnout where you just need to watch TV and not pick up a book. But I love TV, so it’s not exactly a hardship.

6. What is a book that’s made you cry? 
I get misty-eyed a fair bit when reading (which is super-awkward on public transport) but I sobbed my way through John Green’s The Fault In Our Stars the first time I read it. Like, proper hysterical crying.

7. Have you any advice for aspiring writers? 
Be less precious about what you put on the page (or the screen). Be comfortable with making messes or writing something even if it’s not a complete story or poem. It might be someday, but in the meantime just write. A lot of the ordering of stuff happens when you’re editing, not when you’re first putting words down, but we’re trained in school and work not to think of it that way. (Like, think about exams – it’s all first-draft stuff!)

8. Who are some of your favourite LGBTQ book characters? 
There are several queer characters in Moira Fowley-Doyle’s recent The Spellbook of the Lost and Found and I love them all. Joel, the best friend in Deirdre Sullivan’s Primrose Leary trilogy. A long-time favourite is Nic from Sara Ryan’s Empress of the World, which is about a bisexual teenage girl who falls in love at a summer camp for gifted kids (i.e. the best plotline ever, if you live in my brain). Emma Donoghue’s Hood is not YA but has the best falling-in-love-in-an-Irish-convent-school story ever and a relatable, authentic narrator in Pen who details her frustrations with and yearnings for the more dramatic Cara; I also love Landing and the two very different women who fall in love across the Atlantic. I’m very fond of Brent Hartinger’s Geography Club series, which has several gay and bisexual characters in it. Also not YA, but Cyril Avery in John Boyne’s The Heart’s Invisible Furies captured my heart, as did Flannery in Sylvia Brownrigg’s Pages For You (to which a sequel is coming, hurray!) and Tammy in Tom Perrotta’s Election.

9. Since the recent publication of Like Other Girls, have you got anything planned for further down the line?
I’m working on something new but it’s at very early stages yet!

10. And most importantly, just WHO is your favourite character from Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt?
Kimmy herself, definitely. I love her optimism and determination and general weirdness. Plus she learns life lessons from The Babysitters Club. I also have a soft spot for Andrea, her disastrous therapist, because, well, Tina Fey.

 

 

Review: Like Other Girls, by Claire Hennessy

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Author: Claire Hennessy
Publisher: Hot Key Books
Release Date: 25th May 2017
Genre: YA Fiction
Pages: 288

Here’s what Lauren knows: she’s not like other girls. She also knows it’s problematic to say that – what’s wrong with girls? She’s even fancied some in the past. But if you were stuck in St Agnes’s, her posh all-girls school, you’d feel like that too. Here everyone’s expected to be Perfect Young Ladies, it’s even a song in the painfully awful musical they’re putting on this year. And obviously said musical is directed by Lauren’s arch nemesis.

Under it all though, Lauren’s heart is bruised. Her boyfriend thinks she’s crazy and her best friend’s going through something Lauren can’t understand… so when Lauren realises she’s facing every teenage girl’s worst nightmare, she has nowhere to turn. Maybe she should just give in to everything. Be like other girls. That’s all so much easier … right?

{Thank you to the publisher for providing me with a finished copy in exchange for an honest review!}

Damn. Can’t believe I finished this. It’s a book I have hotly been anticipated and my god, it did not disappoint. I adored it.

I’ll start off with saying how ridiculous it is that this book has been getting so much hate and being called transphobic, even the author being called transphobic and problematic. Her portrayal of Lauren being unsettled by the fact that she’s suddenly discovered her friend is not offensive, it is realistic. Don’t tell me that every single person this world would be happy and okay with trans people, because if they were, transphobia would not be a thing. And the thing about it being a “problematic” title? Maybe if you read the blurb, never mind the book itself, you would realise it is recognised as a problematic thing to think/say and the author uses it in an ironic sense.

Now, I’m glad my rant is out of the way. Because now I get to talk about how glorious this book is. Firstly, in terms of sexualities it is incredibly diverse. There are little straight main characters which is pleasing. The fact that Lauren is a mess and she had to go through having an abortion ON HER OWN shows what a strong, incredible character she is. Her friend group are amazing, her relationship with her mam is shown excellently and has the best conclusion, as does the book itself. The plot was so engaging that I could hardly find time to put this gem down. I loved Nothing Tastes as Good but this just knocked it out of the park. Definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. Witty, original, dark at times, addicting, important and quite simply exceptional. It was a pleasure to read and enjoy and I recommend this to everyone!!

 

5 out of 5 Stars!!