Q&A with Lo Simpson Starts a Revolution author Melanie Florence

Q&A with Lo Simpson Starts a Revolution author Melanie Florence

In Melanie Florence’s new coming-of-age novel, a girl finds comfort, and eventually her voice, by writing letters to The Doctor from her favorite TV show, Doctor Who. We sat down with Melanie to ask her about the inspiration behind Lo Simpson Starts a Revolution and what she hopes readers will take away from the story.

What inspired you to write Lo Simpson Starts a Revolution?

I was a kid who wasn’t eager to grow up. I had a daughter who was the same. And I wanted to write a book about how complicated that can be when your friends are ready and you’re not. I also wanted to normalize the conversation about puberty. It happens to us all but there’s still a taboo around it. I wanted to have Lo have a parent who tried to express how normal it all is and that it’s OK to talk about it. I think it’s her relationship with her mom that inspires Lo to speak up and use her voice to influence change. This is a kid who has been in the shadow of her best friend for years but suddenly steps up when she sees inequality in her school. And of course, I was dying to write something about Doctor Who.

What did your process for writing the book look like?

I got to watch a lot of Doctor Who! I think I just went back to my own childhood and tried to remember how it felt to be Lo.

What were some of your favorite sections of the book to write?

I loved Lo’s inner dialogue. I’m one of those people who carries on full conversations in her head, so it was fun to make up that dialogue for Lo. Honestly, I had so much fun with the entire book. It’s not always easy or fun to write. It’s hard. But I WAS Lo. So, bringing her to life was a lot of fun for me.

Lo Simpson Starts a Revolution tackles big, important themes. How did you find a balance between the seriousness of those topics and the lighthearted, funny moments? 

I don’t know, LOL! I wrote dark, serious books for most of my career, but I like to think I’m actually kind of funny. So, I try to write honestly and write what’s important to me and just…write for the kid I once was.

There aren’t many middle-grade books that tackle themes like consent, sexism, and menstruation. What do you think still needs to happen for these topics to be shared more openly in books and in general?

More people need to write about them! My parents NEVER talked about this stuff with me. I try to be open and honest with my own kids, and that didn’t come easy at first. But I keep saying it—we need to normalize these conversations. Important subjects can be hard to talk about, but they really are important.

What main takeaways do you hope for readers after they finish your book?

That even if you don’t believe it, your voice is important. Don’t be afraid to use it. Speak up. Be loud. Take up space.

What’s next for you? Do you have any other books in the works?

Always! I’m always working on something new. I really want to write something scary!

And now for some Doctor Who questions! How did you discover Doctor Who and become a fan?

I don’t even remember when I first discovered Doctor Who. But I loved it immediately. I do know the first Doctor I came across was 10. He was Lo’s first Doctor too. I loved everything about Doctor Who. The characters are so much fun, and they go on cool adventures. What more could you want?

If you had to choose, who would your favorite Doctor be?

Obviously 10. David Tennant will always be my Doctor.

Who is your favorite companion?

Amy and Rory. Definitely.

Do you have a favorite alien life-form (enemy or otherwise) that the Doctor meets?

Ooohhhhh…that’s a great question! Two answers. I loved the Adipose. They’re adorable. But the Weeping Angels freaked me out. Anytime they show up in an episode, I know I’m going to love it.

Favorite episode? 

Hands down, “The Pandorica Opens”.

Is there anything else you’d like to add? 

Just that I really hope readers enjoy meeting Lo and love the book as much as I do. (And pssst … there’s another book coming. This one is about Jazz!)

Melanie Florence has been writing full-time since 2010. She is the author of Missing Nimâmâ, which won the 2016 TD Canadian Children’s Literature Award, Stolen Words, which won the 2018 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children’s Book Award and the bestselling Orca Soundings titles He Who Dreams and Dreaming in Color. She lives in Toronto with her family.