Tami Charles is the author of the new young adult novel Becoming Beatriz. Her other books include Like Vanessa and Definitely Daphne. She is a former teacher.
Q: Why did you decide to focus your new novel on your character Beatriz, who first appeared in Like Vanessa?
A: I was curious to dive into more of Beatriz’s character. What made her such a bully in Like Vanessa? Surely, bullies aren’t born that way. And of course, Beatriz needed a shot at redemption. This is how I created her story.
Q: In one of our previous interviews, you described the research you did to write Like Vanessa. Did you do additional research for your new novel?
A: Lots! Because Becoming Beatriz is set in the 1980s, I had to make sure I got the clothing, the music, and the slang right! I also used current events that took place in Newark, New Jersey (in 1985) to add a historical twist.
Q: You also have a new picture book coming out, Freedom Soup, which we talked about in another interview--what do you think Jacqueline Alcantara's illustrations add to the book?
A: Jacqueline captured Haiti perfectly. From the lush fields, to the variety of skin tones, to the soldiers preparing for battle. She is a talent to keep your eye on!
Q: You've written for different age groups--do you have a preference?
A: Not at all. I write as widely as I read!
Q: What are you working on now?
A: I just finished a YA novel, a new format for me. Verse! I had a lot of fun writing it. We’ll see where it goes. I’m returning to picture books really soon, as I have some fun ideas up my sleeve.
--Interview with Deborah Kalb. Here's a previous Q&A with Tami Charles.