What is your book Here the Whole Time About about?
Here the Whole Time is a story about friendship, life-long crushes and self love. In this book we follow Felipe, a fat gay teen that can’t wait to spend his winter break watching movies, reading comic books and being far from all the bullies at school. But things get a little out of hand when his mom informs him that they’ll be hosting his neighbour Caio, as guest, during the next fifteen days. Felipe has had a crush on Caio since forever and has no idea how he will sleep in the same room as Caio, dealing with all his body image insecurities and trying not to overthink everything. It’s not gonna be easy, but Felipe’s journey is filled with great people, that will inspire him to be a little bit kinder to himself.
Tell us about the journey of writing Here the Whole Time.
Since this book is about a lot of personal topics and deals with a lot of insecurities that I had growing up as a fat gay teenager, it was a wild journey! I was 26 when I wrote it and thought I had it all figured out but, spoiler, I hadn’t. The path to self love is hard sometimes and it’s something we should practice everyday. And, while I was writing Felipe’s story, I’ve found myself revisiting a lot of my own dark places and dealing with them for the first time in years. But, hard topics aside, HTWT is also a very funny book and I had the most fun ever coming up with all the joyful scenes in the story. And, at the end of the day, I can see what Taylor Swift meant with ”hell was the journey but it brought me Heaven”.
Do you have a specific routine when writing your books?
Since my writing career is not my full time job, I still have office work to do everyday. I really love when, on weekends, I am able to wake up super early, make a fresh cup of coffee and sit on my desk to write for a few hours with no music or anything. Just the white noise of a quiet morning. That’s the ideal scenario for me but it’s not always like that. Most of the time, I have to write whenever I can. I type on my phone on my way to work, write for a few minutes before dinner and that’s that.
What is the best thing about being a YA author? What is the hardest?
In Brazil, where I live, the YA book community is very passionate and enthusiastic about books. Being in touch with readers and hearing about their own stories and reading experiences is such a privilege that sometimes I think I don’t even deserve to get all this love and kindness. 2020 has been a horrible year for everyone and it makes me miss presencial book events so much. But even online, having readers to support you will always be my favorite part.
The hardest part, though, is that whole “great powers x great responsibilities” thing. Writing stories for teens will always be a huge responsibility because we’re dealing with an audience that is in a very crucial moment in their lives. They are forming their ideals, coming up with their own views and starting to see the world for their own. As gatekeepers (and with that I mean authors but also editors, librarians, etc.), it’s our job to create a safe and healthy environment for teens to express and see themselves. It’s our responsibility to help raise more and more diverse voices. And that’s not always easy. It’s hard but, at the same time, extremely rewarding.
What did you enjoy reading as a kid?
I grew up reading and loving comic books! Monica’s gang had a huge impact on me (and on a lot of Brazilian kids to this day). Also loved everything by Meg Cabot and a lot of Middle Grade Brazilian authors. Used to love all sorts of illustrated stories, books about mysteries and secret treasures and kids going in epic adventures!
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
To be honest I really don’t know? I remember the first story I posted online just for my friends to read (it was a painfully heterosexual love story between two band mates) when I was 16 but at that time being a writer didn’t felt like something I could actually do. In my mind it was only a hobby or something I could do for fun. I’ve always loved writing and, for a long period of my young adult life I thought I could be a journalist or a blogger or something. Writing something bigger like a book only crossed my mind when the plot of HTWT kinda came to me when I was trying to find queer fat representation in books and having a hard time to find it. I was so excited to read it that I simple had to write. And I couldn’t be happier about how everything turned out in the end!