Brandy Colbert, the award-winning author of Little & Lion, is an inspirational writer that we adore. Her new middle-grade novel, The Only Black Girls in Town, is both relatable and inspiring and will have readers falling in love with her enchanting characters. In honor of her new book, we got the chance to interview Brandy and get the scoop on the new release, her inspiration and the books she loves.
What inspired you to write The Only Black Girls in Town?
The Only Black Girls in Town isn’t based on my life, but I was born and raised in a predominantly white town in the Missouri Ozarks, which was about 3% black when I was growing up in the ’80s and ’90s. I was usually the only black kid in my class in elementary school, and that only changed slightly when I started junior high in seventh grade. It’s something I think about a lot, since I write for children, and one day I started wondering if anyone had written a middle-grade novel about the only black girl in a town until another black girl moves in across the street. From there, the story instantly started taking shape, and I had a lot more to say than I’d realized all these years.
Why did you choose to write in the Middle-Grade genre? What kind of impact are you hoping this book has on young readers?
I’ve written several young adult novels, and I love that age group, but the books that have really stuck with me are the ones from my childhood when I started reading and choosing books on my own. Once I started adding more middle grade to my reading stack the past few years, it just felt like there was something inherently special about books for that age group, no matter how old I was when reading them, so I wanted to try writing them, too. I hope kids will see themselves in this book, and not feel alone – because I certainly felt alone when I was growing up – and if they can’t see themselves, I hope they’ll learn something new about people who aren’t like them. But, overall, I think books should be enjoyable, so I hope they like Alberta and Edie’s story.
What are your top 5 favorite books of all time?
The most impossible question! I can’t choose favorites of all time, but here are five that I truly love: Drinking Coffee Elsewhere by ZZ Packer, Goodbye Stranger by Rebecca Stead, Sag Harbor by Colson Whitehead, What Girls Are Made Of by Elana K. Arnold and (this is cheating because it’s a series, but!) the Gaither Sisters books by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Are there any books you’re looking forward to reading this year?
So many! A few I can think of off the top of my head are All the Things We Never Knew by Liara Tamani, Parachutes by Kelly Yang, The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, Something to Say by Lisa Moore Ramée and Ways to Make Sunshine by Renée Watson.
Name three essentials you’ll be taking with you on book tour.
A warm wrap because I’m always cold on the plane, my favorite Sharpies (yes, I have favorites!) to sign books and my iPad so I can keep up with all my favorite TV shows while I’m away.
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