We’ve got the lovely Crystal Maldonado on the blog today to talk all about her debut book, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega and her writing and publishing process! I’ve already read the book and my review should be going up next week (migraine-depending), and I can’t wait for you all to meet Charlie!
About Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.
People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it’s hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn’t help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.
But there’s one person who’s always in Charlie’s corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing–he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her? UGHHH. Everything is now officially a MESS.
About the author
Crystal Maldonado is a young adult author with a lot of feelings. Her work has been published in the Hartford Courant, Buzzfeed, and Latina Magazine.
By day, she is a social media manager working in higher ed, and by night, a writer who loves Beyoncé, shopping, spending too much time on her phone, and being extra.
She lives in western Massachusetts with her husband, daughter, and dog. Follow her everywhere @crystalwrote. – Author website
1. Congratulations! How does it feel to be a published author?
Getting published during the pandemic has been exciting, rewarding, and a little exhausting! Being able to have this book published is truly a dream come true, so it’s been interesting to have those positive feelings juxtaposed with the stresses of the pandemic, which I know has been difficult on us all. That said, there have been some silver linings to debuting during this time, like being able to attend events from anywhere and meeting so many incredible authors on Twitter and over Zoom. I’m appreciating everything as it comes and enjoying all of the big and small moments. I’m also very much looking forward to being able to celebrate the book — and meet readers! — in person when it’s safe.
2. What inspired you to write Fat Chance, Charlie Vega?
The inspiration for FAT CHANCE, CHARLIE VEGA came from my own high school experience, my journey to self-acceptance, and my love story with my now-husband. Like Charlie, I grew up in a town where I felt like I really didn’t fit in: I was a Puerto Rican girl surrounded by mostly white classmates, I was fat, I had a unique family dynamic, I wore glasses. It just felt like I wasn’t what the world viewed as “normal” in any way at all. There
were so few positive depictions of fat characters in media then, too. Though there are more now, it still feels like fat girls deserve more. I wanted to do what I could to change that and show that fat girls everywhere are worthy of a happily-ever-after.
3. What has been your most memorable moment of the publishing or writing process?
Holding the book in my hand has been so memorable! That might seem a little odd, but I swear I almost didn’t believe this was all happening until the real, final version was in front of me. This whole time, I’ve had so much fun that it felt like I was living in a dream and if someone pinched me I might wake up and realize it wasn’t real. But it is real! I also really loved the editing process for the book. I have a tough time with drafting, but being able to edit and revisit the characters and watch their story really take shape feels so satisfying.
4. Who would you want to play Charlie in a movie?
If this book became a film (and oh my God, that would be everything), then I would actually love to see some new actresses and actors on screen in the roles! It would be incredible to have my book help bring some otherwise lesser known young actors to prominence. One thing I know for sure is that I totally want to show up in the background of a scene as a teacher or hall monitor or something!
5. What was your favourite scene to write?
It’s hard to pick a favorite scene, but one of the most fun for me was Charlie’s birthday party! It ends up being such a pivotal night for her character.; she feels pretty, her friends are so loving, her crush joins her for the evening, her friends are great, and the future feels so full of hope and possibility.
6. What is a book you wish was around when you were a teenager?
I really wish I’d had “Puddin’” by Julie Murphy as a teen because I think I have a lot in common with Millie Michalchuk — fat, aspiring journalists, who are maybe a little too naive or sweet for our own good sometimes. I think I was more jaded than Millie, but I imagine if I’d read that and realized fat girls could just be happy with themselves, that would’ve felt really monumental.
7. What are your writing plans for 2021?
I’m currently working on a book about a different fat Puerto Rican girl who is obsessed with photography and Instagram — but she has trouble getting any followers. She takes her obsession to the next level when she decides to steal someone else’s photos and pretend to be them, which goes about as well as you can imagine. Super excited for everyone to read this one! It’s tentatively scheduled to come out in fall 2022. Fingers crossed I can share more soon!
8. What do you hope readers will take away from Fat Chance, Charlie Vega?
I really hope that readers finish this book feeling seen and validated. It can be pretty lonely to consume media but never quite see yourself reflected back at you. To me, if this book helps even one person feel worthy and understood, then I’ll have done exactly what I set out to do. I’d also love for Charlie and her story to start conversations on things like fatphobia and Latinx identity, and how there is no one right way to be fat or Puerto Rican. There’s only your way, and that’s completely valid!
Thank you so much, Crystal! I can’t wait to see you in the background of any future adaptation of Fat Chance, Charlie Vega.
Interested in more 2021 Debuts? Check out my Debut Showcase feature, in which I talk about a tonne of authors with debut books coming out in 2021. While you’re here, perhaps consider taking part in the Debut Author Challenge? There are giveaways, readathons, read-ins, and more!