Writer and screenwriter Bia Crespo‘s debut novel, “Me, My Crush and My Sister”, recently released by Seguinte, is a hilarious and captivating story about first loves, love between sisters and self-love. With a plot that combines sapphic romance, dating lies and coming of age, the book offers a captivating insight into the complexities of relationships.
The story centres on a trio of girls: Tamires, Antônia and Júlia. Tamires is the popular girl, always surrounded by suitors, especially among the girls. Her social life is hectic but, surprisingly, her ex-girlfriends become her friends. However, she is not the protagonist of this book. Antonia, her younger sister, feels that she is a dull version of her older sister and prefers the tranquillity of her home life and watching series. When Julia enters the sisters’ lives, a new challenge arises.
In an effort to get Antônia to get along, Tamires throws a party in her flat, where the third element of the story appears: Júlia. Antônia is enchanted by Júlia and, on realising that she is attracted to girls, realises that she is a lesbian, like her sister. However, when Júlia decides to win Tamires over, the plot thickens. She proposes that she and Antônia fake an affair in the hope of getting closer to Tamires. While Antônia initially agrees to the plan, real feelings begin to emerge, leading to complicated situations and broken hearts.
Bia Crespo, screenwriter, writer and producer, brings her ability to create emotionally rich stories to the pages of “Me, My Crush and My Sister”. The book offers a captivating exploration of complex relationships, mixing laughter and tears, making it an engaging read for fans of LGBT+ literature.
The author, who has a degree in audiovisual studies, has a solid career in film and TV, and now brings her talent to literary writing. With an engaging narrative, Bia Crespo presents a story that goes beyond the pages of the book and enters the imagination of readers.
How did the inspiration for the plot of “Me, My Crush and My Sister” come about? Was there a personal experience or a specific source of inspiration?
The plot couldn’t be further from my personal experience: I don’t have any siblings, lol. I’ve always been fascinated by (and envious of) the relationships between siblings, especially female siblings. It’s a mixture of competition and admiration that people carry with them for life. I’ve had many friends who were beautiful, intelligent and successful, but because they were younger sisters, they thought the older one was the favourite. Put all this together with the fake dating plot, which is my favourite trope in literature, and I came up with Me, My Crush and My Sister. The personal part I put into the story was Antônia’s experience at film school and also her first steps as a lesbian at that time. For me it was a very important and intense moment and I thought it would be nice set the story in this universe, not least because I don’t see many works that deal with the Brazilian university experience.
The book deals with themes such as first love, love between sisters and self-love. Which of these themes is most meaningful to you and why?
Self-love is a topic that I think is super important and necessary. No wonder it’s one of the main themes of young adult literature. It’s very common in these stories for people to be discovering themselves, becoming who they will be for the rest of their lives, and gaining the confidence to be who they are. Being able to help people embark on this journey of self-discovery and self-affirmation is a privilege and an honour.
Tamires, Antônia and Júlia are very different characters. Which one do you identify with the most and why?
I think I have elements of all three. When I was younger, I was a lot like Antonia in terms of lack of confidence and comparing myself to others. I felt very lost at film school, just like she does in the book, because I liked popular films and everyone else was super cult. Nowadays I think I’m more like Tamires, who is a confident person and plays the role of group counsellor. But I used to be very emotional like Júlia, lol, capable of doing anything to win someone over.
The plot involves the peculiar situation of a “dating lie”. How does this contribute to the development of the story and the characters?
The lying relationship plot came naturally, perhaps because it’s one of the literary tropes I like best. I think it’s a very quick and effective way to heighten the romantic conflict and escalate the stakes throughout the story, especially when we’re dealing with characters who are too insecure to confess their feelings, as is the case with Antonia. Júlia is the driving force behind this story. She comes up with the crazy plan to have a fake fling with Antônia just to be close to Tamires. Deep down, she constantly needs to prove that she can be better, that she can go where no one else has gone – which, in this case, is to date Tamires. In a way, all this chaos is what sets Antônia in motion and takes her out of her comfort zone. I like to think that Antônia and Júlia are people who had a lot to learn from each other. No wonder they met.
The book deals with LGBT+ issues and the discovery of sexuality. What message would you like to convey to readers about this part of the story?
When I was a teenager in the 2000s, there were practically no books with LGBTQIAP+ themes. Films and series were very few and very hard to find, if they weren’t horrific tragedies. I’m sure this delayed my coming out of the wardrobe and realising that I was a lesbian, so much so that I didn’t come out until I was 25. I think it’s extremely important that teenagers and young adults have contact with all kinds of representation in literature, so that they can see themselves in the pages and see the possibilities for themselves. This phase of life is full of discovery, trial and error, so if I can make it easier for someone, I’ve done my job.
The university environment and the film course are important settings in the book. How do you think these environments influence the characters’ choices and journey?
This university phase is a rite of passage in many people’s lives. We enter as teenagers and leave as adults. I think it’s important to set a story of coming of age and self-discovery in a universe where we are finally confronted with our identity, with the role we are going to play in the world. I’d like to see more stories that show the Brazilian university experience, which is totally different from the American one, so common in films and series. For me, university wasn’t much use in academic or professional terms, but it was a turning point in my development as a human being. This is completely reflected in the journeys of Antônia and Júlia – while the former is doing the course she always wanted with the support of her family, the other has to lie to get her parents’ approval. These are important conflicts that give even more depth to the love problem they are going through. When I was at university I felt like this: everything happening at once, with a lot of intensity.
Comedy is an essential element in the plot. How did you balance humour with deeper emotions when writing the book?
My experience in films and series has helped a lot in this regard. A good comedy script is one that makes you cry right after you laugh. We stir up a lot of emotion in an hour and a half, so I was careful to put these dramatic turns into the literary experience. In films like 10 Hours to Christmas and The Perfect Mother-in-Law I think I’ve found that balance well, just like in the Rensga Hits! series. The secret of comedy is not to be afraid of being cheesy. The more jokes and the more emotion, the better. People want to connect and stories need to be open to that.
What was the biggest challenge you faced in creating the dynamics between the characters and keeping the plot suspenseful and surprising?
I was scared to death that people would reject Júlia! I think she was the character who underwent the most changes throughout the edition. I thought a lot about her complexities and her motivations so that the audience could forgive her. At the same time, I heightened the conflict with the arrival of another female character (no spoilers!) who seems perfect for Antonia, but who actually turns out to be the friend she needed all along. In the trafficking world it’s very common to walk a fine line between love and friendship and I wanted to take advantage of this in the book to increase the conflict and suspense.
“Me, My Crush and My Sister” touches on issues of self-discovery and acceptance. How do you hope readers will connect with these themes?
The idea is that we shouldn’t compare ourselves to anyone, whether it’s our older sister, that cousin with a degree or the neighbour who got into a public university. This is also a recurring theme among teenagers and young adults, so I decided to address it in my book to show that we should be enough for ourselves. This comparison is rubbish and, over the course of adulthood, we move further and further away from it. Individuality and confidence are part of the quest for maturity.
The book has received a great response from readers. What kind of reactions have you received and how has this impacted you as an author?
I was surprised by the positive reception and excited because I came from total literary anonymity – most authors of young adult literature came from Wattpad or independent publications. I started from absolute zero, without ever having published a fanfic under my name. But people were super receptive and I had a lot of support from other authors, especially LGBTQIAP+ authors. I’ve taken a copy of several reviews and messages I’ve received from readers and I’ve set them aside to read when I’m sad about my audiovisual career, lol. Unlike writers, screenwriters are very undervalued, sometimes even erased from their own projects. This positive reception makes me feel that my message is reaching people and impacting them as I wanted it to. Sapphic literature is still in its infancy in Brazil and around the world, so I feel there’s always room for more people. May there be many of us!
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