February is Black History Month and currently there are some wonderful kidlit blogs highlighting African American authors and books featuring African American protagonists, such as Lee and Low's Black History Month Giveaway and The Brown Bookshelf. Here at the YA Highway, we thought it would be fun to take a look into the future and spotlight African American YA authors who have debut novels forthcoming. Today, we are so pleased to introduce Brandy Colbert! Brandy's debut, a dark YA contemporary titled A POINT SO DELICATE is coming in 2014.
About the author
Brandy Colbert lives and writes in Los Angeles. Her debut novel, A Point So Delicate, is forthcoming in 2014 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers/Penguin. She’d love to connect with you on Twitter, her blog, or Goodreads.
About the book
A ballet prodigy's life begins to unravel when she is forced to admit to the role she played in her childhood friend's abduction.
1. What books did you read when you were a teenager?
Well, this is no way to start off an interview, but I was actually reading a lot of Danielle Steel from around ages 14 to 16. I was looking for something skewed a little older than the books I grew up with -- like the Ramona series, the Babysitter's Club, and anything by Barthe DeClements and Judy Blume -- but I was a teenager for most of the 90s, and young-adult literature just wasn't the vast, wonderful world it is today.
And when I wasn't busy devouring every Danielle Steel novel I could get my hands on, I reread several classics, because we always had a lot of those around the house. The Secret Garden, A Little Princess, Charlotte's Web, Little Women, and the Little House series were (and still are) some of my favorites. In addition to a personal library that rivaled mine, my friend Emily owned a beautiful set of hardback Nancy Drew mysteries, and she was kind enough to let me borrow those whenever I wanted. There was a foray into John Grisham novels. It's unfortunate that it was so difficult to find books written about young people of color when I was growing up, but I would read pretty much anything you put in front of me back then, and considered it a bonus if the main characters were anywhere near my age.
2. Can you tell us anything about the main character in A POINT SO DELICATE?
Yes! She's 17. Her name is Theo. She lives in a suburb of Chicago and she's a gifted ballet dancer harboring a few secrets -- some of which tie back to her friend Donovan's abduction four years ago.
3. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Don't give up. Write what you love. Learn to be patient.
4. What 3 words would you use to describe the publishing journey so far?
Dream come true.
5. Are there any African American authors who have influenced your writing?
There are several, but I'd say I'm most inspired by Z.Z. Packer and Colson Whitehead. Theirs was the first contemporary writing I found that told stories about black people who'd grown up in the suburbs and went to predominantly white schools and struggled with a diverse set of problems. But while their stories aren't always centered around being a person of color, they contain a good mix of subtle phrasing and brutal honesty that never shy away from the topic of race as it fits into their characters' lives. They make you think.
The experiences of black people in this country are so varied and reading the work of those authors in particular showed me that there's a place for everyone's story. I discovered them both a few years ago, in my late twenties, and it was so refreshing to finally find writing I could relate to on many levels. I think their work also encouraged me to find my voice and tell my own stories without worrying that they have no place in the YA world because they don't fit a certain mold. I highly, highly recommend Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by Packer and Sag Harbor by Whitehead.
Thank you so much, Brandy!