Hello All! I am so excited that “The Victoria in My Head” by Janelle Milanes is available now and that I get to share the news with you! If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Milanes be sure to
check out all the details, my Q&A with the author, and an awesome giveaway opportunity!
About The Book
Synopsis: Victoria Cruz inhabits two worlds: In one, she is a rock star, thrashing the stage with her husky voice and purple-streaked hair. In the other, currently serving as her reality, Victoria is a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents, who sleepwalks through her life at the prestigious Evanston Academy. Unable to overcome the whole paralyzing-stage-fright thing, Victoria settles for living inside her fantasies, where nothing can go wrong and everything is set to her expertly crafted music playlists.
But after a chance encounter with an unattainably gorgeous boy named Strand, whose band seeks a lead singer, Victoria is tempted to turn her fevered daydreams into reality. To do that, she must confront her insecurities and break away from the treadmill that is her life. Suddenly, Victoria is faced with the choice of staying on the path she’s always known and straying off-course to find love, adventure, and danger.
From debut author Janelle Milanes comes a hilarious and heartfelt tale of the spectacular things that can happen when you go after what you really want.
What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
This is so difficult! A lot of the books I’ve loved have achieved well-deserved success. I’ve also read plenty of manuscripts that went unsold but fully deserved to be. There is a novel I really enjoyed called Wither by Lauren DeStefano. It’s part of a trilogy, The Chemical Garden Trilogy, and it’s a YA dystopian series. I think there was such a boom of dystopian YA after The Hunger Games that this one got a little lost in the shuffle.
What is the most difficult part of creating/writing this novel?
Starting a novel is my favorite part of the writing process–it’s powering through the middle and tying everything up at the end that is my nightmare. THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD, though, was difficult the whole way through! It was only the second manuscript I’d ever written, so the plot and pacing initially weren’t where they needed to be. Revising the book was a huge pain and I had to cut a lot of scenes that were fun, but didn’t add much to the story. The book was also originally set in the 90s, which I ended up changing as well. Incidentally, that meant the entire 90s playlist I had so carefully put together had to be thrown out. Not fun.
If this book was adapted into a TV show or movie what actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book and why?
I’ve thought A LOT about this, and I still don’t have a perfect answer! There is, unfortunately, a huge absence of mainstream Latinx actors, which makes the choice that much more difficult. If I had to choose an actress to play Victoria, she would be somewhere in between Selena Gomez and Ariela Barer. I’ve seen a couple of YouTube videos of Ariela’s band, The Love-Inns, and it reminds me a bit of what I imagined Debaser would be.
Who are some of your favorite authors that you would recommend to readers?
My favorite YA author of all time would have to be Judy Blume. As a younger reader, I remember feeling so understood whenever I read her books. As an adult, I’ve reread most of them and now appreciate them for entirely different reasons. Her books always remind me to cut through the crap when I’m writing, because she’s able to express the mindset of a kid in such a succinct, accurate way.
A couple of recent favorites are Stephanie Perkins and Jenny Han. Their books make me feel warm and cozy, and they know how to write an engaging love story. ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS might be my favorite YA contemporary romance ever. I’ve reread it a dozen times and am still hooked on the tension between Anna and Étienne. And Jenny Han’s Lara Jean series has that same endearing romance with a refreshingly innocent, sheltered protagonist (which is a voice often missing in a lot of YA.) I also love the family dynamics, particularly the close-knit, evolving relationship among the Song sisters.
The Victoria in My Head is a reflection of many of your own experiences growing up as a second-generation Latina in America, how do you relate to your main character Victoria?
I relate to Victoria in so many ways. We both share a tendency to overthink things, to give in to anxiety, to use daydreaming as a form of escapism. Victoria faces pressure from all sides, but growing up as a second-generation Latina definitely adds an extra layer of that. Growing up, I always felt as though I had something extra to prove. I wanted to show that I was fully “American” while also embracing my Cuban roots. I wanted to succeed in life because my family sacrificed so much to give me that opportunity. Though like Victoria, I also wanted the excitement and passion that came with taking risks. I remember feeling pulled in so many different directions and paralyzed by indecision just as Victoria does in the book. I only wish I had been as brave in high school as she turns out to be! That only came later in my life.
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