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Bookmarked Blog

When I started working on my second YA novel in August 2020, I knew I needed to write about something that would bring me joy. Bucketloads of joy. So, I decided to write about my two favourite things as a teenager: computer games and community theatre. Now, I’m aware that gaming and musicals don’t necessarily make the most obvious pair, so it took me a while to land on a plot that would bring them together in a way that felt right. Eventually, the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, and I ended up with the story of a seventeen-year-old ‘gaymer’ who goes undercover in a local production of Chicago—with his self-obsessed mother playing the lead role, no less—to win the heart of his secret online crush. (I mean, what could possibly go wrong?)

The whole time I was drafting the manuscript, I was equal parts thrilled that I was writing it and terrified that no one would want to read it. But as soon as we announced my potentially niche gaming/theatre book online, I received a flood of messages and comments on social media, saying how excited people were to see this particular intersection of interests finally portrayed in a book. Apparently, I wasn’t the only gaming and theatre nerd out there!

Tobias Madden

Tobias Madden

In my first novel, Anything But Fine, I drew heavily on my experiences growing up in Ballarat and my years dancing professionally on Australian stages. In Take a Bow, Noah Mitchell, I was able to fully explore and celebrate my love of theatre in the exact setting where my passion was ignited: the rehearsal room of an amateur musical. I will never forget the feeling of stepping on stage for my first performance of Oliver in Ballarat when I was fourteen. Or—like Noah—rehearsing for a local production of Chicago in a dusty old church hall in my late teens. For me, those productions were so much more than just shows. I’d found my people, my community. I’d finally found where I belonged.

Noah is, in many ways, a lot like me as a teenager. He’s skinny and awkward and sarcastic and sensitive. He doesn’t make friends easily, and when he falls in love, he falls hard and fast. On the surface, his story is a light, bright rom-com that will (hopefully) make you laugh and cringe and gasp and cheer, possibly all at once. But at its core, Take a Bow, Noah Mitchell is a story about the things people do—the lengths we all go to—to feel seen and loved.

I think there’s a little bit of Noah in all of us, and I can’t wait for everyone to meet him in September.

Josh, Dymocks Sydney

Josh, Dymocks Sydney

"Madden’s follow up to his remarkable debut is filled with the perfect blend of romance, humour, wit and heart. It’s got a great rom com worthy set up, strikingly real characters that you connect with and a romance at the heart of it that will make you swoon. It’s heart-warming and deeply moving, while still managing to be funny and relatable. It’s as much about identity, fitting in, friendship, family, and relationships as it is about overcoming your mistakes and confronting your feelings. A touching YA read that delivers as much on the romance as it does with the heart."

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