A #TTBF Q&A with Author e. E. Charlton-Trujillo
What’s your writing motto?
Write the story that only you can tell, and remember that nuance, voice and passion on the page is everything. It will truly separate your story from others every single time.
If you could go back and give yourself advice as you wrote your first book, Prizefighter En Mi Casa, what would it be?
That book was so pure in its conception because I was absolutely naive about the publishing industry. I wasn’t writing to be published. I was writing because I had something I had to say and that book was the form it took. When I won the Delacorte Dell Yearling Award from Random House, I didn’t realize how special that moment was because of my own struggle with grief at the time. I think I’d go back and tell myself that it’s okay to enjoy the success of it more.To celebrate it.
You’ve been talking to young readers about Fat Angie for a few years now. What’s the most surprising (or most interesting) question a reader has ever asked you?
I was meeting with a high school book club in Illinois when a student named Destiny said, “What do you mean Angie isn’t Black? When I read her, she’s Black.”
That day I realized how each of the kids had their own experience of Angie — her race, her family, her love and her loss. When we took a group photo at the end, the kids held the book in front of their faces because they said, “Everyone is Fat Angie.”
What would your perfect road trip be like? Where would you go and what music would you listen to?
My most notable road-trip was in the film At-Risk Summer, but I’ve spent a lot of my life traveling. Across America and in parts of Europe, but it all began in Texas. Some of my best road-trips were in my teens as I roamed the interstates and country roads, searching for something bigger than me and my small hometown.
The best road-trips were usually defined by the stops I didn’t plan. The hole-in-the-wall restaurant with the best breakfast taquitos ever! The drive-in movie theaters — the dancing outside of a concert my friends and I couldn’t afford.
The getting lost and finding myself exactly where I needed to be with my friends, random made-up games and maybe a box of pepperoni pizza on the hood of my parents’ Pontiac at the edge of an H.E.B. parking lot, listening to a mixtape on the cheap factory speakers.
Music has always been the soundtrack of my life. My road-trip playlist would be Hendrix to Hanson, Beth Ditto to Pink, Charles Irwin to Girlschool, MAWD to Nirvana. Just tons of tracks from pop, punk, rock, alternative, hip hop, country, ska and classical.
What do you want readers to take away from Fat Angie: Rebel Girl Revolution?
There are so many takeaways from this book! I love Angie, Jamboree, Zeke, Darius, Wang, and Jake so much. Writing their beautiful-ugly, awkward-passionate, hilarious-bizarre and sometimes heartbreaking moments reminded me how hard, yet hopeful it can be to be a teenager.
I definitely hope readers realize through each of them that their story and voice is a revolution. For Angie, she has to journey through the layers of grief and confront intense pushback from those who see her fatness or queerness or oddness as a threat to their perceived “normal.”
Writing this sequel, Angie reminded me that everyone has their version of hard. Regardless of social standing, race, gender-orientation or even waist size, hard doesn’t discriminate. When we get that everyone is trying to make the best of their struggle and to grow and mostly wants to do better, I think we feel less alone. It’s then that we can begin to step into ourselves without the fear of what people think.
If you could choose three books to include on our official “Read Everything” book list for 2019, what would they be?
Barely Missing Everything – Matt Mendez
Dig – A.S. King
Redwood and Ponytail – K.A. Holt