Episode 298: Character-Driven YA and Middle Grade — Interview with Brandy Colbert

by Gabriela Pereira
published in Podcast

Hey there word nerds! Today, I have the pleasure of interviewing Brandy Colbert, the critically acclaimed author of several YA and Middle Grade novels. Her books include Pointe, Stonewall Award winner Little & Lion, Finding Yvonne, The Revolution of Birdie Randolph, and her 2020 releases, The Only Black Girls in Town, and The Voting Booth. Her short fiction and essays have also been published in several critically acclaimed anthologies for young people.

Born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, Brandy spent a few years living in Chicago before relocating permanently to Los Angeles. She is very active on social media and also works as a copy editor for magazines and books. She is also on faculty at Hamline University’s MFA program in writing for children.

In this episode Brandy and I discuss:

  • The inspiration behind The Revolution of Birdie Randolph
  • Exploring black friendships and experience in The Only Black Girls in Town
  • How books can functions as both mirrors and windows
  • Exploring the theme of family over multiple books
  • Grappling with race in the context of a contemporary story
  • Moving into middle grade after writing YA

Plus, her #1 tip for writers.

About Brandy Colbert 

Brandy Colbert is the critically acclaimed author of the novels POINTE,  Stonewall Award winner LITTLE & LION, FINDING YVONNE, THE REVOLUTION OF BIRDIE RANDOLPH, and the 2020 releases, THE ONLY BLACK GIRLS IN TOWN (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers) and THE VOTING BOOTH (Disney-Hyperion). Her short fiction and essays have also been published in several critically acclaimed anthologies for young people. Born and raised in Springfield, Missouri, Colbert spent a few years living in Chicago before relocating permanently to Los Angeles. She is very active on social media and also works as a copy editor for magazines and books. Visit her website, and connect with her on Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr

The Only Black Girls in Town

Currently promoting two books! The first is Brandy’s middle grade debut, THE ONLY BLACK GIRLS IN TOWN (in stores March 24, 2020), about the only two black girls in town who discover a collection of hidden journals revealing shocking secrets of the past. Beach loving surfer Alberta has been the only black girl in town for years. Alberta’s best friend Laramie is the closest thing she has to a sister, but there are some things even she can’t understand. When the Bed and Breakfast next door finally finds new owners, Alberta is ecstatic to learn the new family is black, and they have a 12-year old daughter just like her.

Alberta is positive she and the new girl, Edie, will be fast friends. But her dads are quick to warn her, “all skinfolk ain’t kinfolk”. While Alberta is an upbeat sporty beach lover, Edie is a moody Wednesday Addams come to life. She wears black dresses and lipstick, and doesn’t get any of Alberta’s jokes. 

When the girls discover a collection of secret journals in Edie’s attic, their curiosity gets the best of them and they put their differences aside. Soon they discover shocking and painful secrets, and the role the unrelenting violence of racism played in it.

The Revolution of Birdie Randolph

Dove “Birdie” Randolph works hard to be the perfect daughter and carry out the path that her parents have laid out for her–drop the sport she loves, keep her head in her books, and finish high school at the top of her class. But Birdie can’t help falling in love with a sweet and handsome boy, despite his troubled past, and it’s getting harder and harder to obey her parent’s every wish and command. 

When her estranged aunt Carlene, who has been in and out of a drug rehab facility for years moves in, the tone in her home begins to shift. Birdie finds a confidant and ally in her aunt. But as Birdie gets closer to Carlene, buried secrets come out, and everything she’s ever known to be true is suddenly turned upside down.

If you decide to check out the books, we hope you’ll do so via the above Amazon affiliate links, where if you choose to purchase via the link DIY MFA gets a referral fee at no cost to you. As always, thank you for supporting DIY MFA!

Link to Episode 298

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