Maggie Ann Martin hails from Des Moines, Iowa but moonlights as a New Yorker. She earned a BA in English and Journalism from the University of Iowa, the most welcoming literary community in the world. When she is not writing, you can find her binge-watching TV shows or passionately fangirling over fictional characters on the Internet. Her two young adult novels, The Big F and To Be Honest are available now from Swoon Reads (Macmillan).
Voyage: What was the inspiration behind your novel, To Be Honest? What made you want to tell this story?
Maggie Ann Martin: The inspiration for To Be Honest was definitely the overwhelming desire to write a fat main character in YA that is comfortable in their own skin. I wanted to write the story that I wished I’d read as a teenager. I also wanted to talk about the complexities of the conversations around body politics, especially when you’re fighting for those rights with your own family members. The dynamic of my main character, Savannah, and her mom (who just got off of an extreme weight loss reality TV show) was something that I wanted readers to connect with from both sides. It’s been lovely hearing from adults that are having conversations about weight with their children differently after reading this story.
V: When you write your stories, what is the one thing you hope readers will take away?
MAM: I hope readers take away that they always have the right to advocate for their own bodies, even if the person actively oppressing them is a member of their family. I always hope that readers come away from the book thinking about the ways they talk to themselves and others about their weight.
V: What was the hardest scene of To Be Honest to write?
MAM: I think the hardest scenes to write were the moments when Savvy was reaching out to her mom and giving her a lifeline to explore the grief and guilt that came along with her weight and she refused to take it.
V: If you could tell your younger writer self anything, what would it be?
MAM: Psttt… that fat romantic comedy idea that you don’t think will ever work TOTALLY WORKS.
V: What are your writing must-haves?
MAM: Ooh, for me writing doesn’t come without an awesome playlist, mini Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups on standby, and my chihuahua, Milie, cuddled by my side. With all of those things, I can always hit my writing stride.