Hi guys! Today starts the first full week of school for me, and I am very excited! Senior year is going to be full of some amazing experiences, achievements, friends, and books! High school is coming *quickly* to an end, and I know I need to enjoy each and every day while it lasts. Right now, Kelly deVos is here with me to talk about her debut novel Fat Girl on a Plane, which looks amazing! I hope you enjoy this interview and check out her book!
About the Book
High school senior Cookie Vonn’s post-graduation dreams include getting out of Phoenix, attending Parsons and becoming the next great fashion designer. But in the world of fashion, being fat is a cardinal sin. It doesn’t help that she’s constantly compared to her supermodel mother—and named after a dessert.
Thanks to her job at a fashion blog, Cookie scores a trip to New York to pitch her portfolio and appeal for a scholarship, but her plans are put on standby when she’s declared too fat to fly. Forced to turn to her BFF for cash, Cookie buys a second seat on the plane. She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich. Bowing to society’s pressure, she vows to lose weight, get out of the friend zone with her crush, and put her life on track.
Cookie expected sunshine and rainbows, but nothing about her new life is turning out like she planned. When the fashion designer of the moment offers her what she’s always wanted—an opportunity to live and study in New York—she finds herself in a world full of people more interested in putting women down than dressing them up. Her designs make waves, but her real dream of creating great clothes for people of all sizes seems to grow more distant by the day.
Will she realize that she’s always had the power to make her own dreams come true?
1. Why do you love writing? When did you first have a love for writing, and how was it formed?
Like a lot of writers, I fell I love first with reading. Around the fifth grade, I became obsessed with Trixie Belden, which is a series of Middle Grade detective novels, similar to Nancy Drew. So I started writing my own Trixie Belden stories, sort of like fan fiction, and this is what made me want to be a writer.
2. What are your favorite books, genres, and authors? Which ones have impacted you and your writing style the most?
At the moment, I tend to read mostly YA. Some recent faves have been have been HOLE IN THE MIDDLE by Kendra Fortmeyer, AMERICAN PANDA by Gloria Chao and THE UNIVERSE IS EXPANDING AND SO AM I by Carolyn Mackler. I guess, in general, I’m attracted to personal, character-driven stories. On the adult side of things, I’m reading SHARP OBJECTS by Gillian Flynn as I am watching the show and I read The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer
3. What do you do when you’re not writing? Is writing a part-time or full-time job?
I write 20-30 hours a week so I guess I’d call it my part time job. I’m a graphic designer for a company that sells professional beauty products to salons and stylists. I also enjoy knitting and I collect stickers.
4. Your debut novel Fat Girl on a Plane, which recently released from Harlequin Teen, follows Cookie as she deals with her body image and weight while trying to achieve her dream of becoming a fashion designer. As an advocate for body positivity and fat acceptance, how do you explore these two issues—especially in the fashion industry—throughout your book? Why is it important to address these in Young Adult fiction?
First of all, I think it’s vitally important for there to be more fat stories out there. Fat people make up 30-40% of society but are very rarely main characters in fiction and film. I also think young people have a lot of questions when it comes to body images issues, weight loss and diet culture and I wanted to write something that sparked conversations about those topics.
5. What inspired you to write Fat Girl on a Plane, and how have your personal experiences, including your time working in the fashion and beauty industries, shaped and impacted your book?
The novel begins with my character, Cookie Vonn, being declared “too fat to fly.” This was inspired by a real experience I had where I was on a business trip to Salt Lake City and was asked to buy a second seat on the plane. The experience was incredibly humiliating. Afterwards, I started doing research. I went on a lot of travel blogs. There seemed to be two perspectives. Fat people were asking, “How is it okay to treat people like this?” Thin people were asking, “Well, why can’t you just lose weight?” That was the inspiration. I wanted a narrative that spoke to those two questions.
6. Your novel is set between two alternating timelines called “Fat” and “Skinny.” Why did you decide to write the story in this format, and what were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
I felt that the best way to shine the spotlight on how differently society treats people it considers fat and those who are thin would be to show the life of the exact same person before and after a major weight loss. I think the biggest challenge was dealing with my character’s interior thoughts when she was fat. Her ideas were based on many things that I struggled with as I learned to love myself as I am. It was sometimes hard to show the Cookie having negative thoughts about her body and also make it clear that, as the author, that’s not how I wanted her to feel, that I wanted her to move beyond those ideas. The book is really about that process – about how to start off feeling like you don’t deserve success and happiness because a lot of the world doesn’t like the body you’re in – and end up being your own best advocate.
7. If you could spend one day with Cookie in real life, how would the day unfold? What would you two do?
I would be desperately trying to get Cookie to design and sew something for me! Our day would begin at the fabric store, we’d do some sewing and then have dinner at an Instagram-worthy restaurant!
8. How do you want readers to be changed when they pick up Fat Girl on a Plane? How has writing your debut novel changed you?
I want people who have struggled to feel good about themselves and their body to feel seen and understood. Ideally, I also hope that thin or average size people who’ve never had weight issues and who might be influenced by fat stereotypes to be able to walk away with more of an understanding of why fatphobia is harmful.
9. If your book had a playlist, what songs would you include on it?
I always do make a playlist for each project! It’s been a while since I was working on FAT GIRL, but the original list had a bunch of Halsey, PVRIS and Lorde on it. I think now, Cookie might add some Dua Lipa and stuff from Beck’s last album.
10. What could we expect from you in the future? Are there any secrets you would like to share?
Well, it’s not a secret, but next year I’ll have a new thriller coming from Inkyard Press/Harper Collins. It follows a teen coder caught in the turmoil of a governmental crisis that may have been triggered by her own father.
11. Before you go, would you like to share any advice you have to any aspiring authors or writers?
Keep going! Ultimately, the only thing we, as writers, can control is our own work. Keep trying to improve your work and your process, whether that’s by finding critique partners, reading helpful craft books or going to conferences and events. It’s the love of the craft that has to sustain us in the face of rejection and criticism.
Thank you so much, Kelly, for coming onto the blog! It’s so great to have you!
About the Author
A third generation native Arizonan, Kelly deVos can tell you everything you’ve ever wanted to know about cactus, cattle and climate. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. Kelly is represented by Kathleen Rushall of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. Her debut novel, FAT GIRL ON A PLANE in now available from Harlequin Teen and her work has been featured in the New York Times and on Salon, Bustle and SheKnows. Kelly is also a passionate advocate for body positivity and fat acceptance.
Have you read Fat Girl on a Plane? Do you like YA contemporary?
Comment below, or find me in one of my social media pages, and let’s chat!