Friday, September 15, 2017

Victoria in My Head by Janelle Milanes: Interview + Giveaway


I have the pleasure of hosting Janelle Milanes, author of Victoria in My Head, on the blog today for an interview PLUS an amazing giveaway! I hope you guys enjoy it ^_^



Publisher: Simon Pulse/Simon and Schuster 
Pub. Date: September 19th, 2017
A shy, rule-following teen winds up joining a local rock band in this laugh-out-loud, heartfelt coming-of-age novel.

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.



Janelle Milanes is originally from Miami, FL and received her BA in English Literature from Davidson College. A lifelong YA addict, she moved to New York for her first job as a children’s literature associate at Simon & Schuster.

For the past five years, Janelle has worked as a teacher and librarian throughout the New York City area. THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD is her first novel and reflects many of her own experiences growing up as a second-generation Latina in America.

Janelle currently lives in Brooklyn with her husband and their two cats. Her favorite Disney princess is Belle, since she was also a big book nerd.
Connect with Janelle: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Instagram 


Your main character, Victoria Cruz, is caught between two identities—an aspiring rock-star, and a shy teenager with overprotective Cuban parents. Could you tell us more about that? Do you personally connect with Victoria? Is this a theme you specifically want readers to pay attention to?

One of the biggest aspects of the story is how Victoria struggles to navigate multiple identities and expectations of what she's supposed to be. There's the respectful daughter, the hardworking student, the Latina in touch with her roots, the all-American girl, the rebellious rock star, etc. No one fits inside a definitive box, and that's definitely the case with Victoria. She tries to reconcile all these seemingly incongruous parts of herself.

Of all the characters I've ever written, Victoria is the one to whom I most relate--particularly when I think back on the teenage version of myself. I used escapism, usually in the form of books and music, when I found real life to be too suffocating. I wanted to explore what would happen to a character who makes her escapist daydreams a reality.

Who are some of your favorite musical artists, groups, bands, etc.?

I hop around a lot when it comes to musical artists, but some of my high school faves were The Beatles, They Might Be Giants, The Pixies, Elliott Smith, Queen, Letters to Cleo, and David Bowie. I listened to a lot of Broadway albums, too--I had a passionate love for Les Mis and cried when I finally got to see the show for the first time in NYC fifteen years later! Lately, I've been listening to everything from Fifth Harmony to Beach House to Frank Ocean to Arcade Fire. My Spotify account is just a mess of different genres.

What are some of your favorite books, movies, or TV shows that include music in a significant way? 

TV was probably my biggest influence when it came to finding new music. Shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Gilmore Girls, and the O.C. introduced me to artists and songs that I otherwise never would have heard of. When I was younger, I wanted to be the person who picked out the music for dramatic TV scenes. It just seemed like the coolest job in the world. (I still kinda feel this way, actually--how does someone land a job like that?) Anyway, I think that was why I spent so much time picking out a song to match each chapter of THE VICTORIA IN MY HEAD. It's my way of living out that failed childhood dream!

When did you know you wanted to be an author? 

Interestingly enough, here was never a light bulb that went off in my head when it came to figuring out I wanted to write. I didn't truly think it was possible. To me, authors belonged in the same category as movie stars--it didn't seem like normal people like myself could one day see their names on book covers. That just didn't happen. I didn't know any authors in real life. They were untouchable. So, I focused on more practical pursuits for much of my life, and as much as I enjoyed writing, it took a back seat. It was only in my late twenties that I became disciplined enough to actually finish a manuscript. Once that happened, becoming an author seemed like a more attainable goal.

Who are some fictional characters (that are not your own) that you personally identify with, and why? 

Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables. Always. Constantly reading, dreaming, and wanting everything in the world to be beautiful and good.

What are your favorite types of scenes to write? What are your favorite types of scenes to read?

The scenes I like to read are usually the ones I like to write as well! Romantic banter is always fun. I'm obsessed with a good love story and cranking up the tension before a couple gets together. I also enjoy getting inside the mind of a character...that's the benefit of reading as opposed to other mediums! Writing their inner dialogue, giving them a unique perspective, letting loose as they rant and go off on tangents--those are the moments when I can really get lost in writing and immerse myself in being someone else.

Do you have any favorite fictional couples/OTPs? What makes you love them so much? 

Yes! Okay here goes: we have Rory/Jess from Gilmore Girls, Logan/Veronica from Veronica Mars, Leslie/Ben from Parks and Recreation, Ron/Hermione from Harry Potter, Anne/Gilbert from Anne of Green Gables, Lara Jean/Peter from To All the Boys I've Loved Before, Elizabeth/Mr. Darcy from Pride and Prejudice, Anna/Etienne from Anna and the French Kiss, Jessica Darling/Marcus Flutie from Sloppy Firsts, Simon/Blue from Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda, Tara/Willow and Spike/Buffy from Buffy the Vampire Slayer if we pretend season six never happened...I could go on forever. Shipping is a passion of mine!

My favorite couples to ship are the ones that start out with plenty of conflict and mutual dislike. I'm so captivated by the evolution from hate to love. It probably offers the worst foundation in terms of real-life compatibility, but it's way more fun to read about. To me, these couples offer the most satisfying development since they have to travel from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other.

What are some of your favorite and least favorite tropes in books? 

I'm okay with almost any trope IF it's well-executed. Yes, even love triangles. My favorite tropes would have to be hate-to-love romances and self-realization of powers (mostly in fantasy, but it could also be a moment of self-discovery in contemporary.) My least favorite would have to be a Mary Sue protagonist with whom everyone inexplicably falls in love. I also hate the trope of every adult in a book being completely clueless and failing to possess basic communication skills. Sure, those people exist. But as a teacher, I work with so many caring, devoted adults who have maintained great relationships with their students. I'd love to see that represented more in YA.

Who are some writers or authors you'd like to collaborate with, and why?

Oh, god. There are so many ridiculously talented writers out there. Growing up, I was a devout Judy Blume fan. It would be amazing to be able to collaborate with her in some way. Actually, just meeting her would make my life complete.

I'm also big into Stephanie Perkins. Anna and the French Kiss is one of my favorite contemporary YA books of all time. She knows how to write dreamy boys and ship-worthy couples, which I'm all about. Jenny Han is also fantastic. Her books are poignant and sweet, with relatable characters that remind me so much of my younger self.

What's next for you? Any tour plans or are you working on a new project?

I'm revising my next book, which is being published by Simon & Schuster in 2018! I'm not sure how much I can say about it yet, but it revolves around a girl with severe social anxiety. She's in love with a boy she met online but is too scared to meet him in real life, her father is marrying a woman with whom she has nothing in common, and the most popular boy in school wants to use her to win back his girlfriend. Yeah. It's a doozy. There will still be plenty of humor along the way, though, just like in Victoria!


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34 comments:

  1. Great interview! This book sounds really interesting. And I mean, if she's a Darcy fan, it's gotta be good, right?!

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    1. Thank you! And I think this book is going to be great, I hope it's on your TBR ^_^

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  2. I'm also a huge Judy Blume fan. Great interview and giveaway!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it, good luck on the giveaway!

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  3. I'm excited to get to know this character who is my fantasy/dream personality for myself. I've had this on my must read list for my debut author challenge this year. Can't wait as I love music as a musician myself.

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    1. That's awesome, I hope that this book exceeds all of your expectations ^_^

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  4. I always feel like authors are born knowing that they want to write, so it's cool the Janelle didn't expect this for herself!

    I am also a fan of the hate-to-love trope! :)

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    1. I know what you mean, so many authors say they were just born knowing what they wanted to do it. It's so interesting when it's different for others!

      I am also a fan of the hate-to-love trope ^_^

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  5. Oh this sounds interesting. Nothing gets me more than having music in a YA book.

    Great interview!

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    1. Yes! I want more music in books so this book is perfect for me ^_^

      Thank you for stopping by!

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  6. I have been drooling over the cover for this book for quite some time now! I love the whole concept of this one and Victoria sounds like such an interesting character. Thanks so much for sharing this. :)

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  7. I am interested about this book now and it's definitely on my TBR. I liked this interview so much!

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    1. Yay! I'm so glad you liked this post and I hope that Victoria in My Head exceeds all of your expectations!

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  8. Oh my gosh, I already love this author. I also always shipped Tara/Willow and Spike/Buffy and also pretend season 6 never happened. :o

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    1. Janelle is great, isn't she? I don't remember a lot of Buffy even though I'm pretty sure I watched it all haha but between us season 6 never happened ^_^

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  9. This sounds like a fun read. As someone who was an extremely shy teen I have a feeling I might identify with the main character a lot. Thanks for the great interview with the author as well. It always gives me a good feel for a book before I read it sometimes to know more about them.

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    1. I think so many people will be able to relate to Victoria! And authors are usually the ones that sell me on their books. Even at events, often there are authors who I didn't know of their work before and before the end of their event, I have bought the rest of their work haha.

      Thanks for stopping by!

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  10. This interview was so interesting - I love the questions that you picked - they were incredibly interesting! I wish I had heard of this book before now - it sounds like a really fun read!

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    1. Thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed it! Thankfully, you've heard of it now, so I hope it's on your TBR!

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  11. This book sounds SO CUTE! I'd love to read it! *_*

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    1. There's no need to wait any longer, it's out today! I hope you check it out ^_^ (Good luck on the giveaway!)

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  12. This sounds like a great read and I love the author interview!

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  13. Not really a book for me, but your interview post is awesome Brittany :D Thank you for sharing about this book and author. <3 Sort of curious :)

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    1. Aw okay, you should still give it a try, it might surprise you! Thank you for stopping by~

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  14. This was so fun to read! Great interview!

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  15. Great interview! I thought it was so cute when she fangirled about wanting to meet or work with Judy Blume. The book sounds like a lot of fun too. I hadn't heard of it before but am interested in checking it out for sure. Great post, Brittany!

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    1. Thank you, I'm glad you enjoyed it. I hope you check out Victoria in My Head!

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  16. YAY FOR ROMANTIC BANTER! Same same with that one - flirty dialogue is my faveeeee piece of dialogue.

    I love how this book goes not only between the mc's different identities, but also her Latina heritage as well. I always love small bits of cultures that young adult books explore, and the fact that it's there but not a big deal is a great addition. This one sounds so cute!

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

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    1. Romantic banter is the best!

      I hope that you love this book, Aila. It sounds perfect for you!

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