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 too 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 She arrives in the city to find that she’s been replaced by the boss’s daughter, a girl who’s everything she’s not—ultrathin and superrich.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?
About the Author:
Can you tell us about your book, Fat Girl on a Plane, in 45 words or less?
It’s the story of high school senior, Cookie Vonn, who wants to be the next great American fashion designer but feels that she can’t achieve her dreams without losing weight. The book follows her across two timelines, before and after a major weight loss.
That title alone already makes a huge statement. What do you want readers to take away from this book? How do you want them to enter this book?
The book’s inciting incident was inspired by something that actually happened to me. On a flight to Salt Lake City, I had to buy a second seat on the plane. Planes are so cramped that they put fat people on a collision course with fat phobic people. So I wanted to start the book off by putting the reader in one of the most tense, difficult situations for fat people. And then I wanted to send them off on a journey with Cookie as she learns to really love herself and practice self care. I hope at the end of the book readers will realize, as Cookie does, that self-esteem and genuine self-worth have to be based on what’s inside and not outside.
What was your favorite scene to write?
Cookie has a big, satisfying confrontation with her fat-shaming nemesis and that was super fun to write. Often times it’s not really possible to confront people like that – in real time – and I enjoyed putting the scene on the page.
What was the hardest scene to edit out?
During editing, I actually had to add a number of scenes and I don’t think I ended up cutting anything. There’s a funeral in the book and I ended up editing that scene over and over as it seemed to be really difficult for me to get my point across.
I’m curious, did you ever find it difficult to write some of the scenes in this book? This is a very real topic. How did intense did it get for you?
My editor and I both wanted to take a really clear stance against fat shaming and be very pro body positivity in the book. But writing this way presented certain difficulties as it doesn’t always match up with the reality I have experienced as a fat person. In real life, there isn’t always someone with enough courage on hand to confront a fat phobic person. And fat people can internalize a lot of shame or negative feelings about their bodies without always realizing that’s what happening. So, finding a way to make sure the reader understands the book’s body positive message while still being real about what fat people experience and how we feel was sometimes challenging.
What would you want to say to some of the girls (or boys!) who might experience some of the things that Cookie (the main character) probably goes through in this book.
Do not let anyone stop you from living your best life. I sincerely hope that society will pivot away from the often cruel way it treats people it classifies as overweight. But even if it doesn’t, I hope young people generally will come to understand that their self-worth should be based on their character and not the size of their bodies. That’s ultimately the lesson that Cookie learns and that’s what I’m hoping readers will take away from the book.
Will Fat Girl on a Plane be the end of Cookie’s adventure? Are you working on anything else?
My original intention was to go right into a sequel after finishing FAT GIRL, which was going to be a summer road trip book that follows Cookie as she travels across America as part of a school assignment. But then the election happened and I just couldn’t get into the headspace of doing a fun book like that. Instead, I wrote a YA political thriller that follows the daughter of a Doomsday Prepper who has inadvertently triggered a national crisis.
What is the best book you’ve read recently?
I just finished DEAR MARTIN, which I would totally recommend both for its message and the amazing quality of Nic Stone’s writing. I also loved THE SANDCASTLE EMPIRE by Kayla Olson. It’s been described as Lost meets Pirates of the Caribbean and it totally lives up to that reputation.
What are the next 2 books in your TBR pile?
I just started WARCROSS by Marie Lu which is excellent. Then, I’m desperate to move on to FOREST OF A THOUSAND LANTERNS by Julie C. Dao. That book has been on my TRB list for so long and I’m glad it’s finally out!