Maggie Ann Martin, author of the recently released YA novel To Be Honest, brings readers a unique, diverse read about the struggles of adolescence and what it means to be proud of the body you were given. With a humorous and realistic depiction of high school and body image, Martin gives light to the struggle and insecurities of teen life and the power it takes to be proud of yourself. Read below to hear Martin’s view on body image, her inspiration, and her advice for young writers.
What first inspired you to tell Savannah’s story, including complicated family dynamics, senior year, young love, and body positivity?
I think I’ve always known that I wanted to write a story about a character like Savannah but didn’t quite know how. It wasn’t until she popped into my head during a creative writing class in college that I knew she had a voice that could carry a story like this, though.
How would you describe the writing experience for this novel compared to that of your previous work?
A lot more of my heart was definitely exposed in To Be Honest, so it was a much more emotional process to write this book. Not that I didn’t absolutely love writing The Big F, but it was a much more personal experience telling Savannah’s story.
What do you hope teens who struggle with their own body image take away from Savannah’s story and experiences?
I hope teens reading this novel feel empowered to stand up to anyone who makes them feel inferior because of the body they inhabit — even if those people are their parents.
YA has had a few recent works, such as Dumplin’ and Holding Up the Universe, that also deal with similar issues. What unique qualities and messages do you believe To Be Honest has to offer teen readers?
I think the mother-daughter dynamic in this story is unique. I hope it continues to spark dialogues between parents and kids.
When did you first discover you wanted to be an author, specifically for young adult audiences?
From birth basically! I was always writing stories growing up; my sister and I would even create our own books (I would write, she would illustrate). Creativity was always encouraged at our house. As far as knowing I wanted to write YA, I’ve been enthralled with the genre ever since I started picking up YA vampire books that were recommended to me after I finished Twilight. I think there’s something really special about telling coming-of-age stories, and even adults (sometimes especially adults) can relate to those emotions and struggles.
If you could choose any profession other than writing, which would you choose? Why?
Chocolate taste tester. No explanation needed.
On your website, it says that you fangirl constantly. What book/TVshows/movie characters are you fangirling over now?
I am in the same boat as everyone else right now: I’m fangirling the heck out of the To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before movie and Peter Kavinsky.
What have been your favorite reads of 2018 so far? And what are you currently reading now?
I absolutely loved The Impossibility of Us by Katy Upperman and Leah on the Offbeat by Becky Albertalli. Right now I’m reading Wild Blue Wonder by Carlie Sorosiak, and it’s GREAT.
Are you currently working on another novel? If so, what details can you share with readers?
I am but can’t talk many details right now! I promise it includes more unapologetic and proud fat characters, though!
Finally, what advice do you have to offer aspiring young writers?
I feel like I’ve been saying it a lot lately, but I whole-heartedly mean it. Write the stories that scare you. Write the stories that you want to see on the shelf. Pour your heart out on the page. Someone is dying to see themselves reflected in your words!
Read a review of Maggie Ann Martin’s To Be Honest here.