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:
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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.