I am so excited to be able to share that my second book, the sequel to The Paper & Hearts Society, is called… The Paper & Hearts Society: Read with Pride!
I’m having so much fun writing this book and working on the next adventure for The Paper & Hearts Society, which I hope you’ll enjoy just as much as TP&HS.
What is Read with Pride about?
Read with Pride follows Olivia as she accidentally starts a secret underground book club at school for LGBTQ+ students. There’s a national school book club competition, an online #ReadwithPride campaign, and new characters who I already love so much and hope you’ll love too.
But don’t worry: all your favourite Paper & Hearts Society members will also be back! We’ll catch up with Tabby as she starts therapy and tries to get her life back on track, find out more about her and Henry’s relationship, and also find out just what Ed is getting up to by inviting Felix into The Paper & Hearts Society. And there will be more Mrs Simpkins, of course ..!
Why Read with Pride?
In writing Read with Pride, I was (and am) very conscious that I didn’t want this to be solely a story about coming out. It’s also a book about staying in, not having to reveal who you are and how you identify before you’re ready, and finding people just like you for maybe the first time ever.
I don’t want to feel like I have to “come out” before I’m ready and comfortable, but I hope you know that there are many #OwnVoices elements in Read with Pride and it’s a book very close to my heart.
When I was in school, it only ever felt acceptable to be cis and straight. The students who weren’t were made fun of, and this made it even harder for those of us who weren’t straight, like me, or cis, to understand that it was okay to be gay (or bi or asexual or queer, or however you identify). It wasn’t until I went to college and realised that most of my friends weren’t straight that I managed to shake off a lot of the fear and self-hatred I’d been keeping inside me, because I didn’t realise it was okay to be attracted to boys and girls and also feel very confused at the same time.
So when it came to thinking about Olivia’s story and the journey I wanted her to go on, the idea for an underground book club for LGBTQ+ students wouldn’t leave my mind. Just as in The Paper & Hearts Society, which is all about finding your people, I wanted to write about a group of people brought together by a common interest, but I also wanted to explore how it feels to know that it might not even be safe to be loud and proud about yourself and your new friends. Those people who were open and honest about their sexuality helped me feel comfortable with my own, and I hope that I can do the same in Read with Pride.
I am incredibly scared, still, to be writing this. It feels terrifying to be so open and honest and raw, but I am writing Read with Pride for 16 and 17 year old me, who desperately wanted someone to tell her that she didn’t have to be scared, not all of the time. And if anyone thinks differently of me for sharing this, that is their problem and I won’t hide or cower from who I am.
One of the other major things I wanted to explore in Read with Pride was the “after” part of “happily ever after”. I’m very lucky to be able to write about The Paper & Hearts Society over the course of three books, and so something I’ve loved being able to delve deeper into is what happens once the girl has got the boy, once the girl has got the girl — how do teenagers make relationships work? What are those beginning stages of being in a relationship really like, especially when you identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum? It’s not easy, it can be very complicated, but it’s not something I ever see written about in YA.
And it wouldn’t be a Lucy Powrie book if there wasn’t a big helping of mental health discussion somewhere in there. It’s GCSE year, Olivia is running two book clubs and trying to make her relationship work … One word: BURNOUT.
When will it be (coming) out?
If all goes to plan, The Paper & Hearts Society: Read with Pride will be out in May 2020, so less than a year to go! I’m busy writing it at the moment and then there will be lots of editing, but I am so, so excited to share it with you, and hope you’ll be as supportive of it as you have been with The Paper & Hearts Society.
There will also be a cover reveal and more brilliant stuff to share at some point, but not quite yet. In the meantime, I’m always talking about my writing over on Twitter and Instagram, as well as YouTube.
But when Olivia discovers the need for more LGBTQ+ titles in her school library, an idea forms which has the potential to inspire a new book club, encourage more students to read, and make the library as inclusive as possible.
With two book clubs to run, exams to prepare for, and a girlfriend, just how long will it be before Olivia burns out? After all, creating a book club and trying to get the #ReadWithPride hashtag to get noticed is going to take a lot of energy.
Sometimes, when you’re in too deep, it’s up to your friends to look out for you …