Brandy Colbert: I Wanted to Explore Addiction and How it Affects Families

5 Questions With...

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[Note From Frolic: Our resident YA expert Aurora Dominguez got the opportunity to interview author Brandy Colbert and ask her five(ish) questions. Brandy’s novel ‘The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is out August 20th!]

Aurora: What was your inspiration behind your most recent novel?

Brandy: I wanted to explore addiction and how it affects families, particularly a Black family that seems to have it all together on the outside. I like writing about gray areas and topics that make people uncomfortable, and especially things that I’ve been thinking about a lot.

What character do you most relate to and why?

I don’t relate to her, but Aunt Carlene was my favorite character to write. When the story starts, she’s fresh out of rehab—which she’s been in and out of for many years—and intent on trying to prove that she’s working hard not to relapse. There’s such a stigma with addiction, which I see as a societal problem and also within my own circles. I wanted to explore what it looks like and show different sides of a person who’s made mistakes in the past and is trying to create a brighter future.

Why do you feel YA books are so popular and have such a voice right now?

When looking at adult readers of YA, I think adolescence is such a unique time—whether people hated or loved high school, they remember it vividly. Transporting themselves back to those years allows them to create an alternate reality of their experience and perhaps reconcile some of the hardships they faced at that time. Or, if they enjoyed it, they can look back fondly on those years with a fresh perspective. I think it’s also a nice escape from the mundanity of adulthood, and a way for parents to connect with their children and what they’re reading. And I’m grateful especially to the teen readers who support our stories and help us create authentic portrayals of the lives they’re living today.

Please describe the content of your latest book and what can readers expect from the read.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph is about a sixteen-year-old Black girl named Dove (aka Birdie) who lives with her parents above their family’s hair salon in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago. Birdie has always followed the rules, but the summer before her junior year, she begins to feel stifled by her parents’ restrictions and has to figure out if she wants to live her life for her or other people. She’s also getting to know her aunt Carlene, who shows up out of the blue after many years away, and is starting a romance with a boy named Booker, who her parents would never approve of. Readers can expect a coming-of-age story about family, secrets, friendship, and romance.

What’s next for you in the book world?

I have two (!) novels releasing next year that I’m really excited about. My first middle grade, called The Only Black Girls in Town, will be out in March 2020, and my next YA, The Voting Booth, is slated for sometime in the spring.

Who is your favorite writer right now and why?

It’s impossible to choose just one, but some of my favorite writers are Jesmyn Ward, Meg Medina, and Colson Whitehead. They’re all writing innovative, fresh stories, and most of those narratives are focused on communities that don’t always see themselves reflected authentically. I’m greatly inspired by their work.

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