Badger publishing fans will be aware of our best-selling Two Sides series of thought-provoking stories on hard-hitting themes that are breaking new ground in accessible literature.  Emma Norry is the author of United, one of the books in the Two Sides II series, and she kindly agreed to an interview about this book and shares some tips on becoming a writer. Danny Pearson, our publisher, also gives us some insight into the commissioning process for this series and the reaction from readers.

How did you research and prepare for writing this novel?

My husband is a massive football fan, both playing and watching it. So… I watched games with him, tried FIFA and PES on the PlayStation and asked my son about playing at school. 

United is a story about Zane, a football-mad teenager coming to terms with his sexuality.  He has to cope with homophobic comments from his dad and coach how do you think this affects his mental state?

Everything is amplified when you're a teenager. The good and the bad. Teens can be sensitive about many things, a stereotype that they 'don't care' isn't necessarily true, and when you have a secret, or are particularly worried about something, it often plays on your mind a lot and can easily become all consuming. Poor Zane ends up quite depressed and finds his personality changing in some respects as the comments he hears from respected and trusted grown-ups make him doubt any faith he has in the adults around him and make him feel isolated. 

You pack a lot into a very short story and Zane has a lot to cope with at the same time. How important was that to creating his character?

Very important. I wanted Zane to get to a point where we almost wondered if he might snap again, and if so, what would that be like, because he had so much to cope with. Worried about his friend's new relationship, as well as trying to accept his own sexuality and possi