I had the pleasure of speaking with Annette Chavez Macias, author of “Big Chicas Don’t Cry,” a novel about four Mexican-American cousins in Southern California who navigate the trials and tribulations of being a Latina woman in the United States. For reference, I was able to read “Big Chicas Don’t Cry” in October and wrote down my thoughts in a review. Annette opened up about everything from writing romance novels to her journey as a Mexican-American author.
Despite the fictionality of “Big Chicas Don’t Cry,” Annette said, “It’s based off of the area where I grew up and where I live now. It’s called the Inland Empire in Southern California.” Other things, like Annette’s “experiences and upbringing in a large, extended Mexican-American family” also inspired “Big Chicas Don’t Cry.” Annette pulled from specific family traditions like making tamales on Christmas and spending time with her own Welita. She incorporated these lived experiences into the novel, where cousins Mari, Gracie, Selena and Erica also make tamales with their Welita and family on Christmas morning. In these ways, “Big Chicas Don’t Cry” is a made-up story that still feels so tangible and real because it’s inspired by Annette’s own memories, experiences and traditions.
On her tumultuous journey of writing “Big Chicas Don’t Cry,” Annette said, “This book was a very long journey for me. It took several years to write and it was the first book that I ever attempted to write. Ever since I was little I knew I wanted to be an author. But you know, life happens and you get sidetracked. I did go to school for writing, but I ended up becoming a reporter and then I went into marketing and public relations writing.”
After years of perseverance, Annette first entered the authorship world via romance novels under the pseudonym Sabrina Sol. Through a college connection, Annette was able to publish romance works for a while, writing “three full length novels” and “seven short stories and novellas.” Of these romance works Annette said, “The heroines are Latina. So even in my romance I wanted to make sure that I inserted my heritage and my culture, the food and the traditions.”
Despite her success as Sabrina Sol, Annette said, “All the while I still had this story that I kept going back to, and I think it was because it was personal. I couldn’t let it go, so I would add to it while publishing romance stories.” This story that Annette couldn’t let go of became “Big Chicas Don’t Cry,” her first novel under the author name, Annette Chavez Macias. Annette was finally able to complete her manuscript and get a literary agent via a Twitter contest in which writers pitched their novel ideas to agents and editors. All-in-all, Annette “started writing this book in 2012” and “got the agent in 2020.” In September 2022, this long-awaited gem was finally published and released into eager reader’s hands, one of them being myself.
Regarding what she wants readers to take away from “Big Chicas Don’t Cry,” Annette said, “It was important for me to make sure that I did represent Mexican-American culture in this book. I think it’s important for readers to see themselves on the page, and this is a book that, if I didn’t write, I would definitely read because it hits so close to home.” Annette highlights something crucial about the book industry, which is the need for more diverse stories that represent people from all cultures and backgrounds. With this considered, Annette does emphasize that everyone should still read “Big Chicas Don’t Cry” because “there are universal themes that everybody can relate to no matter your background.”
On being a Mexican-American author, Annette explained the trials and tribulations she has gone through in the publishing world. Annette said, “When I was getting rejections for ‘Big Chicas Don’t Cry,’ some of the feedback was ‘I can’t relate to your story.’ Some people may have this misconception that if the characters are Brown then the story is not for them. Yet, they’ll go ahead and read stories about vampires and werewolves and relate to them just fine. Yes, some of my characters may speak Spanish. Some of my characters may eat food that you’ve never eaten before, but at the end of the day, ‘Big Chicas Don’t Cry’ is about family.”
Annette also said, “I’ve gotten some criticism because of the Spanish in my book, even though it’s not big chunks of Spanish. It’s just words, it’s Spanglish really. But some readers don’t like that even though I tried very hard to make sure there was context for the Spanish words. It’s getting better; I think there’s more acceptance and a lot more readers are demanding publishers to put out more diverse books, but it’s definitely still a challenge.” Annette’s journey to this point in her career has been far from easy as a Latina woman in the United States. To witness her persistence despite it all is awe-inspiring. She also described having an amazing support system around her composed of her husband and family, her author friends, and the strong women in her life. Through her own strength and the strength of loved ones around her, Annette has journeyed far and will continue pushing boundaries in the future.
Speaking of the future, Annette has a couple new books in the works. Coming November 29th, Sabrina Sol will release a romance novel called “Second Chance at Rancho Lindo” which is “the first book in a new series about a family of Mexican-American cowboys who live and work on their family’s ranch in Central California.” Under the name Annette Chavez Macias, she is also releasing a novel titled “Too Soon for Adios,” which is not a sequel to “Big Chicas Don’t Cry.” Annette said, “It’s a new book about a woman who meets her biological father on the day of her mother’s funeral. It’s a story about forgiveness and about how different people deal with grief.” “Too Soon for Adios” is set to release on March 21st, 2023.
As for upcoming events, Annette will be attending the Texas Book Festival on November 5th-6th. Annette will “be there on a panel with two other authors, Priscilla Oliveras and Jasmine Guillory” and they will be talking “about love and romance in fiction.” Annette will also have a book signing after the panel, so get your signed copies of her work! In addition, Annette will be attending the Southwest Florida Book Festival in March, as well as Book Bonanza in Texas which takes place in June. Lastly, Annette will attend RomCon in Anaheim, California in August, 2023. Readers, keep a lookout because Annette is also planning on releasing the second book of her new romance series sometime next year!
As a bonus, here’s a great BuzzFeed Quiz called “Which Chica Are You?” Fans of “Big Chicas Don’t Cry” can answer this questionnaire and see which cousin—Selena, Mari, Gracie or Erica—they’re most similar to. I got Mari and Annette alternated between Gracie and Erica. She explained this made sense since there are bits of her personality and character within each of the four cousins. Take the quiz and see what results you get!
Author Annette: https://authorannette.com/
Latinitas Magazine: https://latinitasmagazine.org/family-love-and-celebrating-latinx-heritage-in-annette-chavez-macias-novel-big-chicas-dont-cry/
Texas Book Festival: https://www.texasbookfestival.org/
Priscilla Oliveras: https://prisoliveras.com/
Jasmine Guillory: https://www.jasmineguillory.com/
Southwest Florida Reading Festival: http://readfest.org/
Book Bonanza Event: https://bookbonanzaevent.com/