Just a break in the Bootcamp action today to talk about a new book by one of my agency sisters. THE JOCK AND THE FAT CHICK, by Nicole Winters, is the story of Claire and Kevin, at opposite ends of the social ladder, who fall for each other even though it’s unconventional.
No one ever said high school was easy. In this hilarious and heartwarming debut, one high school senior has to ask himself how much he's willing to give up in order to fit in.
Kevin seems to have it all: he's popular, good looking, and on his way to scoring a college hockey scholarship. However, he's keeping two big secrets. The first is that he failed an assignment and is now forced to take the most embarrassing course ever--domestic tech. The second is that he is falling for his domestic tech classmate, Claire.
As far as Kevin is concerned, Claire does have it all: she's funny, smart, beautiful, and confident. But she's off-limits. Because Kevin knows what happens when someone in his group dares to date a girl who isn't a cheerleader, and there's no way he is going to put himself—or Claire—through that.
But steering clear of the girl of his dreams is a lot harder than Kevin thought…especially when a cooking project they are paired together for provides the perfect opportunity for things to heat up between them outside the classroom….
GG: Nicole, it’s so nice to have you here with us today at the YA Buccaneers! And I’m especially pleased to talk with you, being agent mates, and also sharing a country (hi from outside Ottawa, Canada)! Speaking of agents, a lot of people are prepping for NaNoWriMo in November, and they’re thinking about querying that next book to get an agent. Do you have any great querying tips that might help someone just starting out?
NW: Thanks, Heidi, for inviting me to your blog, it’s great to be here. What a fun site!
Summarizing and pitching your work is tough. My advice is to give yourself time. It’s not a case of thinking I spent 30 days on 50,000 words, so a 300 word document should take a half hour, it’s far more encompassing than that. Sometimes it takes days to hone in on the query. I have to think like a sales person and always keep in mind what’s in it for the agent. How is s/he going to pitch it to the publisher? Everyone down the line — from you to the publisher — wants to make a sale, so how are you going to present a pitch and summary that is so good they’ll think, Yes! I must have this, now.
Another idea is to check out Query Shark. http://queryshark.blogspot.ca Read and analyse what works, what doesn’t and why. There’s lots of valuable stuff there
GG: QueryShark is THE best. You have to read everything there. I love that THE JOCK AND THE FAT CHICK is about two stereotypes that we might never see in books getting together, and yet totally possible. (It probably happens all the time, right?) The heart wants what the heart wants. Was this hard to write, knowing it had to be treated in a sensitive way?
NW: I could have gone with the storyline of Kevin not knowing he liked plus sized girls, but then thought, no, it’s better if he already knows his type, but he’s unable to own it. That was a lot more exciting and fresh to me. Remember the movie, SHE’S ALL THAT? It makes me wonder, what if our hero Laney, remained who she was and didn’t get the obligatory cliché makeover (eye roll) and it was Zach who had to change, and he dated Laney just as she appeared when we first saw her on screen.
GG: This is such a difficult topic in adult life as well, and fat-shaming is a huge negative aspect to our lives these days. It would be ever harder as a teen having to stand up to your peers. I love that you switched this up, though, by making Claire super confident, and Kevin as the one who questions himself. Where did you get the idea for this story?
NW: Years ago, I was talking with a writer-friend who didn’t know how to cook. He said growing up, dinner consisted of two steps: a can opener and a microwave. That hit me pretty hard. Days later I thought, what if there was a kid whose mom was like that? Okay, what if he decided to take matters in his own hands and his solution was even worse? So I made Kevin eat nothing but energy bars, shakes and gels. Now I have set up a character who’s emotionally and nutritionally starved. At the same time, I just happened to be reading and watching movies with overweight teen girls that all seemed to be drawn from the same well: depressed, bullied, or abused. I got bored of it. So what if my hero is forced to take a cooking class (which he’s totally embarrassed by and does not want his friends to find out about) and it’s there he meets a Claire who digs cooking? She’s someone who is bright, funny, talented and yes, she’s plus sized, but she’s an anti-cliché. The story isn’t about her wanting to lose weight to win the guy (no obligatory makeover here, thanks). She he opens our hero’s world and helps him nurture his body and spirit.
GG: A lot of the YA Buccaneers are foodies, I might add, and this is a fun topic for a YA book. What’s your favourite food to prepare?
NW: I love preparing or cooking anything that’s pulled from the ground where you have to knock the dirt free from it first. Favourite dishes include roasted root veggies and kitchen sink soups made in the crockpot. Nothing’s better than getting up on a Sunday, preparing a slow cooker meal, heading to the park to play with friends, and returning later to the smell of comfort food.
GG: Thanks for dropping by our ship, Nicole. It was great talking with you!
If you want to read THE JOCK AND THE FAT CHICK—and I know you do—its release date is Oct. 13th! That’s only a few days away, Mateys! In the meantime, you can find out more about Nicole, and follow her on social media.
Facebook: Nicole Winters YA Author
Facebook: The Jock and the Fat Chick
More about the author: As a C average student with a learning disability, Nicole was herself a reluctant reader. That changed when, at the age of twelve, she was assigned S. E. Hinton's classic YA novel The Outsiders. After devouring the book in a single sitting, Nicole came to understand how the right story can capture the imagination and enthusiasm of anyone - reluctant reader or otherwise. From there, Nicole gravitated towards tales of adventure, suspense, romance and horror. Her works focus on human relationships and the personal journeys of the characters, creating stories she hopes will excite and inspire readers.
Nicole enjoys traveling the world, but calls Toronto home. She is the author of TT Full Throttle (a YA road racing novel) and is currently at work on her third novel, The Conjurer.