Tag Archives: Fat

Why My First Novel Couldn’t Be Anything But #ownvoices: a Guest Post by Naomi Tajedler

Today on the site we have guest post from Naomi Tajedler, author of the recently released Concerto in Chroma Major. Naomi’s here to talk about her book’s being #ownvoices, which, for those who don’t know, is a term that was coined by author Corinne Duyvis to refer to work written by an author who shares the marginalized identity (or identities) of their main character.

Before we get to the post, here’s some info on the book:

Alexandra Graff, a Californian living in Paris, is a stained-glass artist whose synesthesia gifts her with the ability to see sounds in the form of colors. When she is commissioned to create glass panels for the new Philharmonie, she forms a special bond with the intriguing Halina Piotrowski, a famous Polish pianist. As their relationship develops, Alexandra shows Halina the beautiful images her music inspires. But when it comes to a lasting future together, will Halina’s fear of roots and commitment stand in the way?

Buy it!

And here’s the post!

***

Like many xennial authors, my first creative writing came in the form of fanfiction. This medium turned out to be exactly what I needed to figure out what I wanted to read, what I wanted to write, and how to create my own characters. More importantly, it gave me the courage to write the stories I felt needed to be told, to express the voices I needed to be heard.

It’s at this starting point in my career as an author that I turned to YA. Not only did an opportunity to take this leap into original fiction came in the shape of an anthology (at Duet Books, Interlude Press’ YA imprint), but I felt like the very first time I wanted to write a story all of my own, I needed to write it for Past Me. For the teenager I used to be. For her insecurities, for her doubts, for her pains, for what she didn’t know but unconsciously set her apart from her peers.

Fourteen-year old me needed a story telling her that no matter what, if she stayed true to herself, the people around her would still love her. Thus What The Heart Wants was born.

The story of a young girl who discovers that Straight may not be her norm was a story I could have used at Noam’s age. I could also have used the story of someone who doesn’t fit “normal” beauty standards and yet is loved and crushed on. I could also have used, at some point in my development as a woman who is still questioning herself, the story of someone who refuses to date simply because it is “expected” of her.

Writing Noam’s coming of age story came to me pretty naturally, because my teenage self, back when I wrote it, was bursting at the seams to come back into my life, with all the strength, rage and loudmouth adulthood had tamed into silence.

Writing this short story unlocked the door I had unconsciously closed on my plot bunnies. Stories I had told myself, funny and adventurous. Stories I had daydreamed about while studying and / or working.

Then the time came to think about what would be next, and I decided that I needed to write, well, for me now. For the adult I had become in spite of, or thanks to, the heartbreaks and pains.

Writing Concerto in Chroma Major took me a while, because a short story is not a novel, and writing for adults is not the same challenge as writing for young adults, obviously.

Parallelly to writing this story is when I started therapy, and some sessions were dedicated to that process. Unconsciously, a lot of it infused this story, which is why it cannot suit a young adult audience. It’s not that young adults cannot deal with darker themes, not at all. There are challenges, ideas, we face in Life later on and an insight that demands years to step back from the situation and look at it differently to accept someone else’s point of view.

Through the story, I realized that I projected a lot of who I am into my characters: Halina has my independence, my wanderlust, my love for art; Alexandra has my synesthesia, my fatness, my views on Judaism and how to be Jewish, my romantic identity. She also represents the woman I aim to be: more confident in myself and my body, more at ease with herself and her pursuit of romance, more comfortable with confrontations too.

Concerto in Chroma Major is #ownvoices in many ways. Through it, I express my voice as a fat, bisexual, Jewish woman, all communities that need more representation from within.

No one can claim to speak for an entire community, but I do know that my voice is one representation within a more global picture.

***

Born and raised in Paris, France, Naomi Tajedler learned to love art from the womb when her father played guitar to her pregnant mother. Her love for books led her to a Bachelor of Arts in Book Restoration and Conservation, followed by a Master’s Degree in Art market  management. Her first short story, “What The Heart Wants”, was published in Summer Love (2015), an LGBTQ Young Adult collection by Duet Books. When not writing, Naomi can be found sharing body positive tips on social media and trying recipes out on her loved ones.

Twitter handle: @Naomi_Tajedler
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Fave Five: Sapphic Plus-Size Protagonists

Shhhh it’s really six. Tell no one.

The Summer of Jordi Perez by Amy Spalding

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli

Bearly a Lady by Cassandra Khaw

The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember

Knit One, Girl Two by Shira Glassman

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

Rainbow heart

Britta Lundin Interviews Amy Spalding about The Summer of Jordi Perez!

Today on the site we’ve got the first of an interview set between authors of two of this year’s most fun YAs, The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in LA) and Ship It! As the former just came out a couple of days ago, this month’s got Ship It author Britta Lundin taking on the role of interviewer so Amy Spalding can share about her lesbian fat girl ode to burgers, art, and fun in LA!

First, here’s the deal with The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in LA):

Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?

Buy it: Amazon * B&N

And now, take it away, Britta!

Britta Lundin: Your books often have queer characters in supporting roles (the parents in The New Guy, the best friend in The Reece Malcolm List), but this is your first book with a queer main character and a queer romance at its heart. What made you want to write this book now?

Amy Spalding: The short version is that when I was working on my fourth book (and second romantic comedy), I thought, while I love writing swoony boys, I am really ready to write a swoony girl. And so my fifth book began to take shape!

The longer story is that, back when I began work, years ago, on The Summer of Jordi Perez, most of the YA books I read about queer characters were pretty sad. There was often ridicule, bullying, a parent throwing someone out of the house or threatening to, saying goodbye to a religion, even getting murdered. Given how hateful our culture still can be to the queer community, I certainly think many of these books are important. But I also thought about what it must be like to be a queer teen growing up today and reading multiple books where a character’s fate was concerning at best, and fatal at worst.

Books don’t only have to be about stark realism; I turn to entertainment for swoons and laughs too. And so I really wanted to write a book where a queer girl could rest assured the worst thing that would happen to the queer main character is she’d maybe say something very embarrassing in front of the girl she’s crushing on.

The great thing is being part of the YA community from before I started writing this book to the present, it’s great to see are more and more queer books that are lighter, that have different kinds of stakes, and that let young queer readers see themselves in all sorts of cool and swoony and exciting situations.

BL: Jordi is honestly (HONESTLY, AMY) one of my favorite book love interests in a long time. Five pages after meeting her, I already felt like I had a crush on her, too. Where did the inspiration for Jordi come from?

AS: This makes me so, so happy to hear. I had so much fun writing Jordi!

For any love interest I write, I definitely need to think they’re swoony too, or I can’t really fully relate to my main character. Plus it’s just fun to invent a swoony person and then figure out how they fit into your story. So, firstly, I just got to basically design someone crushworthy. One of the best parts of this job?

But in writing Jordi, I also wanted to make her someone who was like an of course! to Abby but also a completely unexpected wildcard. On one hand, they care about so many of the same things: art, beauty, creative career aspirations. On the other, Jordi is someone Abby doesn’t fully understand, either. She’s filled her world with people who say everything, whereas Jordi’s someone who keeps things a bit more under wraps. For Abby, who I relate to because I also blurt out way too much, crushing on someone who seems to have so much going on under the surface, is terrifying. So there’s also that aspect to writing love interests – they need to challenge something within the main character. It can’t be too easy!

Also, they always, always must have great hair.

BL: What was the hardest scene to write or the biggest writing challenge in the book?

AS: It was so hard starting this book. I must have written ten different openings, and I was just never really into it. I couldn’t figure out how I could be so psyched to tell this story, and yet so meh about the pages I was actually finishing. I sort of had all the elements there but they weren’t connecting, and I worried I’d never be happy with it. But I still remember VERY CLEARLY that one night I was making dinner, and I had the thought that Abby believed in romance and big stories and yet had decided that none of it was for her, and suddenly that was it. I took a break from the kitchen and wrote the opening, which has actually changed very little since that night. And somehow that was what it took for the rest of the book to come together. But it was months getting to that point.

BL: What makes you excited for LGBTQ books in 2018?

AS: The variety of stories being told! There are so many queer books coming out (har har) in 2018, and they are about so many different kinds of characters! They are in serious books, funny books, spy books, fantasy books, on and on. There is no reason any genre should lack queer characters – queer people are everywhere! And I’m so glad that books, more and more, are reflecting this.

BL: You only get one outfit to wear for the rest of your life — WHAT IS IT?

AS: Oh my god this is TORTURE. But it would likely be my cat dress from Retrolicious – it has realistic cat heads all over it, including one that looks just like my cat The Doctor. I’d wear it with my jean jacket that has so many enamel pins on it that it weighs more than your standard jean jacket, and my oxblood Dr. Martens wingtips. I would also probably wear one of my Tatty Devine necklaces, likely the one that looks like Saturn.

BL: Your book makes me want to eat hamburgers ALL DANG DAY. Where is your favorite place to eat a burger in ALL OF AMERICA? 

AS: Is it super basic to say Umami? Because I love Umami so much. Their cheesy tots make me believe in magic and love. I love their Hatch and Manly burgers too, plus they carry the Impossible Burger which is like the best veggie burger out there.

I am also a big fan of Fusion Burgers in Highland Park, which also has some very exciting burgers and sides, as well as very tiny bottles of Diet Coke that are exciting to me!

For fast food, I do adore In-N-Out, even if it is a Southern California cliché. What can I say? Sometimes clichés are true for a reason.

BL: What are you working on next? (If you can tell us!)

AS: My next book is The Last Year of James and Kat. It’s not out until Spring 2020, which is very far away! The book is told in two POVs in alternating timelines of the bestfriendship between two girls, James and Kat, and what happens when senior year brings changes. (This sounds very serious but I promise there are plenty of rom-com moments too! I can also promise it is a queer book as well!)

Britta Lundin is a TV writer, novelist, and comic book writer. She currently writes on the show Riverdale on the CW. Her young adult novel Ship It comes out May 2018 from Freeform Books. A longtime fanfiction reader and writer, she can track her life milestones by what she was shipping at the time. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, she now lives with her wife and their lime tree in Los Angeles.

New Releases: April 2018

The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in L.A.) by Amy Spalding (3rd)

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Seventeen, fashion-obsessed, and gay, Abby Ives has always been content playing the sidekick in other people’s lives. While her friends and sister have plunged headfirst into the world of dating and romances, Abby has stayed focused on her plus-size style blog and her dreams of taking the fashion industry by storm. When she lands a prized internship at her favorite local boutique, she’s thrilled to take her first step into her dream career. She doesn’t expect to fall for her fellow intern, Jordi Perez. Abby knows it’s a big no-no to fall for a colleague. She also knows that Jordi documents her whole life in photographs, while Abby would prefer to stay behind the scenes.

Then again, nothing is going as expected this summer. She’s competing against the girl she’s kissing to win a paid job at the boutique. She’s somehow managed to befriend Jax, a lacrosse-playing bro type who needs help in a project that involves eating burgers across L.A.’s eastside. Suddenly, she doesn’t feel like a sidekick. Is it possible Abby’s finally in her own story?

But when Jordi’s photography puts Abby in the spotlight, it feels like a betrayal, rather than a starring role. Can Abby find a way to reconcile her positive yet private sense of self with the image that other people have of her?

Is this just Abby’s summer of fashion? Or will it truly be The Summer of Jordi Perez (and the Best Burger in Los Angeles)?

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Syncopation by Anna Zabo (9th)

Twisted Wishes front man Ray Van Zeller is in one hell of a tight spot. After a heated confrontation with his bandmate goes viral, Ray is hit with a PR nightmare the fledgling band so doesn’t need. But his problems only multiply when they snag a talented new drummer—insufferably sexy Zavier Demos, the high school crush Ray barely survived.

Zavier’s kept a casual eye on Twisted Wishes for years, and lately, he likes what he sees. What he doesn’t like is how out of control Ray seems—something Zavier’s aching to correct after their first pulse-pounding encounter. If Ray’s up for the challenge.

Despite the prospect of a glorious sexual encore, Ray is reluctant to trust Zavier with his band—or his heart. And Zavier has always had big dreams; this gig was supposed to be temporary. But touring together has opened their eyes to new passions and new possibilities, making them rethink their commitments, both to the band and to each other.

Buy it: Amazon

Lizzie by Dawn Ius (10th)

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Seventeen-year-old Lizzie Borden has never been kissed. Polite but painfully shy, Lizzie prefers to stay in the kitchen, where she can dream of becoming a chef and escape her reality. With tyrannical parents who force her to work at the family’s B&B and her blackout episodes—a medical condition that has plagued her since her first menstrual cycle—Lizzie longs for a life of freedom, the time and space to just figure out who she is and what she wants.

Enter the effervescent, unpredictable Bridget Sullivan. Bridget has joined the B&B’s staff as the new maid, and Lizzie is instantly drawn to her artistic style and free spirit—even her Star Wars obsession is kind of cute. The two of them forge bonds that quickly turn into something that’s maybe more than friendship.

But when her parents try to restrain Lizzie from living the life she wants, it sparks something in her that she can’t quite figure out. Her blackout episodes start getting worse, her instincts less and less reliable. Lizzie is angry, certainly, but she also feels like she’s going mad…

Buy it: B&N * Amazon

Past Tense by Star Spider (10th)

Julie Nolan is a pretty average girl with pretty average problems. She’s been in love with her best friend, Lorelei, ever since they met in grade three. Only Lorelei doesn’t know about it — she’s too busy trying to set Julie up with Henry, her ex, who Julie finds, in a word, vapid.

But life gets more complicated when Julie comes home to find her mother insisting that her heart is gone. Pretty soon it becomes clear: Julie’s mom believes that she has died.

How is Julie supposed to navigate her first year of high school now, while she’s making midnight trips to the graveyard to cover her mother with dirt, lay flowers and make up eulogies? And why is Henry the only person Julie feels comfortable turning to? If she wants to get through this, Julie’s going to have to find the strength she never knew she had, and to learn how to listen to both her mom’s heart and her own.

Buy it: Amazon Canada

Unmasked by the Marquess by Cat Sebastian (17th)

The one you love…

Robert Selby is determined to see his sister make an advantageous match. But he has two problems: the Selbys have no connections or money and Robert is really a housemaid named Charity Church. She’s enjoyed every minute of her masquerade over the past six years, but she knows her pretense is nearing an end. Charity needs to see her beloved friend married well and then Robert Selby will disappear…forever.

May not be who you think…

Alistair, Marquess of Pembroke, has spent years repairing the estate ruined by his wastrel father, and nothing is more important than protecting his fortune and name. He shouldn’t be so beguiled by the charming young man who shows up on his doorstep asking for favors. And he certainly shouldn’t be thinking of all the disreputable things he’d like to do to the impertinent scamp.

But is who you need…

When Charity’s true nature is revealed, Alistair knows he can’t marry a scandalous woman in breeches, and Charity isn’t about to lace herself into a corset and play a respectable miss. Can these stubborn souls learn to sacrifice what they’ve always wanted for a love that is more than they could have imagined?

Buy it: Amazon

Queer Sex: A Trans and Non-Binary Guide to Intimacy, Pleasure and Relationships by Juno Roche (19th)

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In this frank, funny and poignant book, transgender activist Juno Roche discusses sex, desire and dating with leading figures from the trans and non-binary community. Calling out prejudices and inspiring readers to explore their own concepts of intimacy and sexuality, the first-hand accounts celebrate the wonder and potential of trans bodies and push at the boundaries of how society views gender, sexuality and relationships. Empowering and necessary, this collection shows all trans people deserve to feel brave, beautiful and sexy.

Buy it: B&N *Amazon

Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli (24th)

31180248Leah Burke—girl-band drummer, master of deadpan, and Simon Spier’s best friend from the award-winning Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda—takes center stage in this novel of first love and senior-year angst.

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat—but real life isn’t always so rhythmic. An anomaly in her friend group, she’s the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends—not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high. It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting—especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.

Buy it: B&N * Amazon * BAM * IndieBound

White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig (24th)

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life.

It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.

Buy it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound