Summer 2021 Paperbacks
In order of publication
In order of publication
With my first book, I could tell you the exact moment when I decided to pull all of those threads together. With Off the Record, I had really been wanting to write something about a teen journalist because I had that experience. With #MeToo all over the news, I had been thinking about those stories and the way they were reported. There was a lot of emphasis put on the survivors who came out with stories first, but even when other celebrities, like Gwenyth Paltrow, shared their stories, they all seemed to be white. There were women like Salma Hayek and Lupita Nyong’o who also had Weinstein stories, but to me, they were reported almost as an afterthought. I wanted that to be addressed in the story; is it because there are less WOC who have been abused? Because they’re uncomfortable speaking with the (usually white) reporters? What dynamics are there?
I think the hardest part was trying to figure out how realistic to make the story. It’s a blend of realism and wish-fulfillment, and I wasn’t always sure which moments should fall into each category. The easiest parts were the moments that reflected my own experiences, especially when it came to fat acceptance. I’ve read a lot of books with fat main characters and they’re so important to me, but it felt like a lot of the times they were either super confident or hated their bodies. I feel like I’m more in between. With Josie, I wanted to show readers that you can love your body and still have difficulty being positive about it all the time.
I’d say to start writing! I think a lot of people think they have to reach a certain age or attend college to write, and you really don’t need to. I would start writing so that you can learn more about yourself as a writer—and a person. It’s such a cool experience.
I wanted to be a journalist for a while in high school; I was part of my school newspaper for all four years and followed the news religiously. I’m still inspired by journalists who can break really sensitive stories about topics like sexual assault. They have to be able to comb through records, interview the accused perpetrators, and then switch gears to interview survivors. I really wanted to highlight how many things journalists have to juggle, especially when covering stories like these.
I hope teens read this story and realize that they can use their voice to make a difference, even if they’re shy or anxious or scared.
I have so many! In high school, I ate lunch in our school library every day, and one of the library workers at the front desk always talked to me about the new YA books they had in (she also saved some of them for me!). I still talk to one of my English teachers from high school because I love her very much.
The show Crazy Ex-Girlfriend was great for me! One of my friends and I have tried to have a standing movie night where we usually watch teen movies from the early aughts, like A Cinderella Story and Freaky Friday. It’s one of the main things that is helping me get through the pandemic!
I’m going to take a little vacation! But after that, I’m working on a really cool queer rom-com I’m excited about.