Simon James Green chats working with Tom Daley on Jack Splash

And why sports novels are gaining in popularity.


We adore Simon James Green (check out all the interviews we have done with him here!) and we are big fans of Tom Daley so it’s no surprise that we are excited when we found out they are writing a book together. Jack Splash follows Jack who is the worst diver in the worst diving team, until a new friend comes along promising magic diving skills. The book has friendships, magic, and perseverance and today, we are excited to chat with Simon James Green about working with Tom on Jack Splash.

Have you written a book with someone before?

I haven’t directly collaborated on a novel before, but I’m also a screenwriter, and with those projects I always work with my co-writer, Sarah Counsell, so I am used to working with other people. And, of course, every book is actually a collaboration – I’ve been lucky to work with a number of fabulous agents and editors over the years, all of whom have added to my books in wonderful ways, so every book is really the work of a number of people.

How is it different from writing a book by yourself? What was the process like collaborating with Tom Daley?

It was really nice having someone else to bounce ideas off and chat with about the different directions the story might take. Tom and I had a long initial meeting at Scholastic HQ where we both talked about what story elements were important to us. We both had very similar ideas about teamwork, friendship and the importance of respect and kindness. Tom is a wonderful role model who has worked so hard to get where he is, so it was a real honour to work with him on Jack Splash.

Tom has actually written several other books. Have you read any? If not, which one would you add to your TBR?

I’ve read his autobiography! My editor actually sent me it to read after I signed up for the project – I thought it was a good idea to know as much about Tom as possible, so I could do justice to the story and really understand where he was coming from with his ideas.

And which book of yours would you recommend Tom to read, if he hasn’t?

I think if he really wants to understand me, he should probably read Noah Can’t Even, haha!

Did you know anything about diving before you wrote Jack Splash? Please tell us one thing you learned from writing Jack Splash.

OMG, no! I knew nothing. I have no sporting ability anyway, let alone knowing anything about throwing myself off a high board into water. This was where Tom was incredibly helpful, because I would regularly write bits of the book and just send them over to Tom with a note saying, ‘Can you please make this make some sort of sense?!’ In an effort to be better, I watched a lot of YouTube videos of Tom and his teammates diving and checked a lot of websites. I can’t say I’ve retained any of the information, but I do know it’s not good to make a huge splash when you enter the water.

Why do you think sports YA / MG novels are gaining in popularity?

It’s structurally really nice to have a big match or championship the characters are working towards – it gives you a chance to really raise the stakes. It’s also a good way to get to the heart of the characters and their relationships – anything which puts them under pressure is good at achieving that. And along the way, these stories have a lot to say about teamwork, and about how, yeah, lifting trophies is great, but it’s lifting up each other that really matters. And in a world that loves to tear people down, I think that’s a rare and beautiful thing.

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