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.
1. When did you decide to become a writer?
Interestingly enough, I never had this “aha” moment when I decided to become a writer. I’m such a pessimist that I didn’t think it could truly happen! I dabbled in writing when I was a kid, then later in high school and college, but I was never disciplined enough to finish anything I started. It was only later in life that I decided to buckle down and finish a book. (That first book is terrible, by the way, but it’s finished and that’s what counts.) I then learned from my mistakes and wrote a second book, The Victoria In My Head. That was when I decided to try to get published.
2. Do you try to set a number of words per day?
I do, but I’m such a slow writer that my goal may seem pitiful to some. Really, I try to work toward a weekly word count because my mood on certain days may vary. I shoot for 3,000 words a week. I usually try to do 500 words most weeknights after work, and then I go to a cafe on Saturday or Sunday to knock out 1,000 words.
3. What struggles have you overcome as a writer?
I think struggling is an inherent part of writing, no matter who you are. Life circumstances can definitely make it more challenging to find the time to write. Balancing a full-time job, or school if you’re still a student, might mean sacrificing some of your social life if writing is something you really want. Good writers also need to be good readers, so having access to books is important–especially for younger kids who might want their voices heard one day.
4. Which famous person, living or dead, would you like to meet and why?
This is so hard! My dignified answer would be someone like Sylvia Path because she was a brilliant writer who left this world far too young. The Bell Jar is one of my favorite books and a tragic look at a woman who, struggling to fit into society’s gender roles at the time, suffers from a mental breakdown.
My shallow answer is Ryan Gosling…no explanation needed.
5. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don’t try to make your writing sound like anyone else’s. Think about what makes your point of view, or your voice, unique. Then, let that come through in your writing. When I write with an intended audience in mind, I always end up trying to be something I’m not. It’s more important to be your authentic, no-holds-barred self.