Author Interviews, Blog Tours, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour – Fat Chance, Charlie Vega – Interview with Author Crystal Maldonado

Happy Tuesday and Happy Book Birthday to Fat Chance, Charlie Vega! Today you are in for a special treat. I had the opportunity through Hear Our Voices Book Tours, Penguin Random House for the opportunity to chat with author Crystal Maldonado.

Before we begin, here’s a little info about Fat Chance, Charlie Vega:

Title: Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Author: Crystal Maldonado
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Release Date: February 2, 2021
Genre: YA Fiction

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I am super excited to introduce you all to the author of Fat Chance, charlie Vega, Crystal Maldonado.

SS: Hi, it is such a pleasure to chat with you today! Before we dive in can you tell us a little bit about Fat Chance, Charlie Vega?

CM: Hi! Absolutely! Fat Chance, Charlie Vega is a YA romcom about a 16-year-old fat Puerto Rican girl who loves books, writing, her BFF, fashion, and love. She doesn’t have it all figured out yet, but she’s working on it — and she really wants a boyfriend.

SS:  What was your inspiration for Fat Chance, Charlie Vega? Can you share a bit about your writing journey for it?

CM: This book was very much inspired by my real life and my experience growing up as a fat Puerto Rican girl. I read a lot, but I rarely felt like I got to see main characters that looked like me, so, I decided to write one myself! I started writing this book years ago, around 2015/2016, and really took my time with it. It offered such a nice escape for me and I loved transporting into Charlie’s mind and world.

SS:  Charlie was such a loveable main character and her friends [supporting characters] really complimented Charlie’s character development. Are there any characters in Fat Chance, Charlie Vega that were inspired by people you know in real life?

CM: Absolutely! Amelia was inspired by the best parts of the wonderful friends I’ve had over the years, all of whom I’ve been so lucky to have in my life. Brian is inspired by my real-life husband. I met him when we were both seniors in high school and he is truly the kindest, funniest, most incredible person I’ve ever met. He made writing Brian easy!

SS:  What was your favorite part of writing Fat Chance, Charlie Vega? The most surprising?

CM: My favorite part of writing this book was creating what I hope are aspirational relationships. Although Charlie and Amelia have an imperfect friendship and Brian and Charlie have things to work on, too, at the end of the day, I think they are really there for one another in meaningful ways. I loved creating those dynamics so much!

The most surprising thing was probably the way Charlie took on a life and personality of her own. Although I started the book out thinking I knew exactly who Charlie was, she ended up doing things I didn’t expect once I started writing. It’s really funny how sometimes your book tells YOU what it wants to do and not the other way around.

SS:  It’s hard not to root to root or love one character, but was there one character that was the most exciting to write?

CM: I loved writing Brian. It honestly was like getting to relive meeting my husband for the first time, way back when. To me, Brian is so pure and wholesome and I really enjoyed just being able to settle into that kindness! Also, although she plays a small role in the book, I loved writing Charlie’s cousin, Carmen. She tells it like it is and I love her for that.

SS:  Fat Chance, Charlie Vega takes us through Charlie’s body acceptance journey. Was there a part of Charlie’s journey that you enjoyed bringing to life? Was there a part that was difficult to write but was important in understanding Charlie’s journey and development?

CM: It was so much fun to explore Charlie’s sense of style and fashion, especially as she grew as a character. It can be tough to explore fashion when you’re fat because sometimes things you think are cute simply don’t fit. So, it was rewarding to have Charlie eventually figure out what works well for her and see her become the fa(t)shionista she always knew she could be!

The most difficult scene relating to Charlie’s body was when she is really, really hard on herself after the dance with Cal. This was definitely her low point and I felt for her because I’ve been there. But I also felt like it was important to show where she was, mentally, so that her ability to rise up and learn to love herself felt that much more impactful.

SS:  If you could describe Charlie and Amelia’s friendship in five words or less, what would they be?

CM: Ultimate friendship goals!

SS:  Many writers find themselves developing a routine or something they must do when writing their novel. Was there something you created a routine to do while writing Fat Chance, Charlie Vega?

CM: I wish! I was so casual about writing the book that I never really got into any kind of routine. I only wrote when the inspiration struck, which was great in some ways (I was always writing intentionally and didn’t suffer writer’s block) but not great in other ways (it took me forever to finish the first draft). I will say that I made it a habit of going back to the beginning of the book and rereading it often, which I do think helped inspire me to keep going!

…And now for some fun!

SS:  What was your favorite 2020 read?

CM: Hands down, Cemetery Boys by Aiden Thomas! I loved everything about it and recommend it to everyone.

SS:  What choice of beverage is your go-to drink?

CM: This is so boring, but water. I’ve always loved it! I also love iced coffee, which I drink year-round.

SS:  What is one story/ fairytale/folklore that you would want to do a remix of?

CM: I kind of want to do my own spin on a Harriet the Spy novel! I loved that book and movie growing up, so it would be fun to reimagine it.

About the Author

Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her debut novel, FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA (Holiday House), will be released on Feb. 2, 2021.

By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, the internet, and being extra.

She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog.

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Author Interviews, Blog Tours, Young Adult Fiction

Blog Tour [Author Interview]: A Cuban’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow

Author: Laura Taylor Namey
Publisher:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers 
Release Date: November 10th, 2020
Genre: Young Adult Fiction

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Happy Thursday Everyone! I am super excited to introduce you all to the author of A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow, Laura Taylor Namey. This is also my first ever author interview and I had so much fun! Thank you Atheneum Books for Young Readers/ Simon & Schuster for this amazing opportunity.

Without further ado….

Interview with Laura Taylor Namey

Q1. Hi, it is such a pleasure to chat with you today! Before we dive in can you tell us a little bit about A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow?

LTN: Thank you so much for letting me stop by! A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is the story of Miami Cuban teen baker, Lila Reyes. Just before graduating high school, Lila suffers three heartbreaking losses. Fearing she’s not coping well, her parents send her (unwillingly) away from the family bakery she loves to Winchester, England, hoping some time resting at their distant family’s country inn will give her a break from so many difficult memories. While in England, Lila finds new friends, a new kitchen to cook and bake in, beautiful scenery she loves more than she’d like to admit, and maybe… a surprising love. But falling in love with more than a new place presents a new series of heartbreaking choices for Lila, and challenges everything she’s grown up believing and hoping for her future.

Q2. What was your inspiration for A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow? Can you share a bit about your writing journey for it?

LTN: This book comes straight out of my family album. I’m the daughter and granddaughter of Cuban immigrants. Many places, traditions, foods, and life lessons I learned growing up in a huge Cuban family are knitted into my story. When I was crafting this novel, I tried to take the spirit of people I love, and the beautiful truths I learned about identity, culture, and legacy and reimagine them into a coming of age novel that teens could relate to. Writing this book has been one of the greatest joys of my life. I am so honored and blessed to be able to have this book as an ink and paper time capsule, tributing and holding the best of the family I love dearly.

Q3. Lila and Orion are such strong characters! Are there any characters in the book that you based off of your own personality or of someone in your life?

LTN: Thank you! There will never be a character more like the way I was at seventeen and eighteen than Lila Reyes. Writing her was about going back, digging up many of my biggest coming of age elements, and reconciling them on paper. This was sometimes emotional and hard. But it was also work that I loved and cherished.

Q4. Which character was the most exciting to write? Which character surprised you the most when creating them?

LTN: Writing Lila was pure joy. It took some time and careful tuning to move her through each chapter and through the particular emotional arc I’d dreamed up for her. As for surprising, Orion’s sister Flora was my biggest surprise. She plays a much larger role in my story than I’d anticipated and serves an important role in moving Lila through her own character changes. I absolutely love the sweet and trusting friendship that grows between Lila and Flora.

Q5. Your novel discusses themes of grief and mental health in relation to Lila. Was there a particular part of Lila’s healing journey that was empowering to write?

LTN: Writing mental health authentically and sensitively is something I am committed to. I work closely with a psychologist, who vets every word I write and makes sure I’m showing trauma, grief, and healing the best way I can. Without spoiling, I loved that part of Lila’s healing involves helping others and investing in them. I think this is so important for teens to see in stories.

Q6. If you could describe Lila and Orion separately in three words, what would you describe them as?

LTN: Lila: Stubborn. Big-hearted. Dynamic. | Orion: Charming. Witty. Prudent.

Q7. So we all want to know, do you have a routine or something you must do before sitting down to write?

LTN: I find I like to write all over the house, versus staying at my desk. Coffee is a must, and I love a big cozy quilt and plenty of snacks to munch on as I’m going along. Sometimes I write to music and I always make a playlist for every book.

Q8. Can you share your journey to getting A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow?

LTN: You never quite know what you’re going to get when your agent puts a new book on submission. Cuban Girl ended up going to auction about five months in, which proved to be a busy and exciting time. I ended up with the perfect editor, who has shown such a deep love for my story from day one and was instrumental in helping me shape the way my book looks today. My entire publishing team has been so wonderful in celebrating the cultural aspects of my story and it is such an honor to work with them.

Q9. Any advice you would like to share to aspiring writers?

LTN: Read fifty books in the genre and age group you’d like to write in. Pick your top five and see if you can point out what it is about these titles that makes them stand out to you as being extra impactful and special. Analyze the way these authors use pacing, character development, emotion, symbols, and setting to create a package you’d love to emulate with your writing. Also, just write and don’t be afraid of initial drafts or what comes out at first. Good writing is rewriting.

…And now for some fun!

SS: What has been your favorite read of 2020 so far?
LTN: Obsessed with Today, Tonight, Tomorrow by Rachel Lynn Solomon

SS: What is one fairytale/folklore/myth retelling that would be a dream for you to write?
LTN: Not so much a fairytale, but I’d love to do a young adult, Latinx retelling of Anne of Green Gables

SS: Do you have a favorite reading spot? Writing spot?
LTN: My favorite reading spot is on a beach! And I love to write on the same spot on my couch with an end table to hold all my beverages and snacks.

SS: What is your favorite beverage of choice that you go to during this fall weather.
LTN: The Philtered Soul from Philz Coffee.

SS: Thank you so much for chatting with me today!
LTN: Thank you for letting me stop by!

About the Author

Laura is a Cuban-American Californian who can be found haunting her favorite coffee shops, drooling over leather jackets, and wishing she was in London or Paris. She lives in San Diego with her husband and two superstar children.

This former teacher writes young adult novels about quirky teens learning to navigate life and love. Her debut, THE LIBRARY OF LOST THINGS published 10/08/19 from Inkyard Press/HarperCollins. Her #ownvoices sophomore project, A CUBAN GIRL’S GUIDE TO TEA AND TOMORROW is coming fall 2020 from Atheneum Simon and Schuster.

Author Links: Twitter | Instagram | Website Goodreads