For the November book of the month our pick was Little and Lion by Brandy Colbert. Today I am super excited to share with you all an interview I got with the lovely Brandy Colbert. Which is also awesome because it is the first interview I have ever got to host with an author!
About Little and Lion:
A stunning novel on love, identity, loss, and redemption.
When Suzette comes home to Los Angeles from her boarding school in New England, she’s isn’t sure if she’ll ever want to go back. L.A. is where her friends and family are (as well as her crush, Emil). And her stepbrother, Lionel, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, needs her emotional support.
But as she settles into her old life, Suzette finds herself falling for someone new…the same girl her brother is in love with. When Lionel’s disorder spirals out of control, Suzette is forced to confront her past mistakes and find a way to help her brother before he hurts himself–or worse.
About Brandy Colbert:
(From The authors about page)
Brandy Colbert was born and raised in the Ozarks—more specifically, Springfield, Missouri—and earned a bachelors degree in journalism from Missouri State University. Her debut novel, Pointe (Putnam, 2014), won the 2014 Cybils Award for young adult fiction and was named a best book of 2014 by Publishers Weekly, BuzzFeed, Book Riot, the Chicago Public Library, and the Los Angeles Public Library. She was also chosen as a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for spring 2014.
Brandy’s second novel, Little & Lion (Little, Brown, 2017), was named a Book of the Month Club selection and a Junior Library Guild selection. Her work can also be seen in the anthologies Feral Youth; Here We Are: Feminism for the Real World; Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories; and the upcoming collections Three Sides of a Heart: Stories About Love Triangles; Our Stories, Our Voices; and Toil & Trouble.
Her third novel, Finding Yvonne, will be available on August 7, 2018, from Little, Brown Books for Young Readers.
Brandy lives in Los Angeles where she works as a copy editor for magazines and books. Her writing is represented by Tina Wexler at ICM Partners.
Without further ado, here is the interview!
1. First and foremost, what inspired you to become a writer?
I started writing stories when I was seven years old. I’ve also always been a big reader, and great storytelling (books, TV, film) inspires me to get my own stories on the page.
2. Why is mental health important to you?
I think mental health is still largely considered a taboo subject, which is unfortunate. There’s nothing shameful about taking care of our brains, and mental health should be monitored and maintained, same as one’s physical health.
3. Why is discussing mental illnesses important both in writing and in everyday conversation?
I believe that the more we talk, write, and read about mental illness, the less stigmatized it will become. It helps people realize they’re not the only person going through something, and also hopefully helps them realize that they don’t need to be embarrassed to get help if they want it, whether that’s through therapy or medication or both.
4. What did it mean for you to have Lionel be diagnosed with bipolar disorder?
I haven’t had a lot of exposure to bipolar disorder, so writing a character with it was an excuse for me to really dig into the topic. I did a lot of research to better understand and try to create a well-rounded character who, yes, has bipolar disorder and is learning how to live with it, but isn’t defined by it.
5. What was the most difficult part of the writing process for you?
Incorporating all the research into a book that (hopefully) is authentic. I wrote outside of my experience with both the bipolar disorder and bisexuality, and it was very important for me to get this representation right. I put a lot more pressure on myself than if I had been writing from first-hand experience.
6. How long did it take you to write Little & Lion, how was it different from writing your first book Pointe?
I started writing Little & Lion in the fall of 2013, and it’s been through many versions since then, though the brother/sister relationship was always the focal point. Second books are always more difficult because there are expectations and reviews that weren’t there when you were writing the first one. Plus, I sold Little & Lion on proposal, which means I had only written around 50 pages and a loose outline, and I was working with a new editor and publishing house. It was an all-around different experience, but I’m learning that the writing process of each book is generally different.
7. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write what you want to read! Trends come and go, and they’re so unpredictable that it’s not advisable to write to them. Also, once you do get that beloved project to the point where it’s ready to go out to agents, there will likely be several rounds of revisions with your agent and then editor, so it’s important to love what you’re working on. You’re going to be with those characters and their story for quite a while—including once it’s published and you’re promoting it at festivals, conferences, and in interviews. You have to love the story before anyone else can.
8. What novel genre would you like to write in that you haven’t yet tried?
I’d love to dip my toe into magic realism and verse novels. They are two of my favorite genres, though both are intimidating!
I wanna take this time to thank Brandy for taking the time to answer my questions. She is such a sweet human being and I am so happy to have had the chance to read Little & Lion and become inspired by her and her story.
Thanks for reading! Let me know your thoughts down in the comments below. Have you read any of Brady Colbert’s works? If so, what did you think?
Also, What novel genre would you like to write that you’ve never tried?
I know that magical realism would have been my choice as well… but I would also like to try my hand at some speculative fiction…. whelp I just gotta finish writing the story ideas I have for now first.
-Till next time!