Q&A with Natasha Díaz, Author of Color Me In

We love hearing from new voices in YA!

In Color Me In, debut Author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to create a powerful, relatable, coming-of-age novel. We can't wait for this beauty to hit shelves on 8/20/19. Get to know Natasha Díaz in the Q&A below!

Color Me In is based on your personal experiences. What inspired you to tell this story? Can you tell us a little bit about your background?

I’m the only person on my mom’s side of the family who looks the way that I do, and as a result, I have witnessed blatant racism since I was a child; it just was never directed at me. So often I find that narratives about biracial/multiracial, white-passing characters delve deeply into their internal struggle but rarely touch on the privileges and colorism that are inherently tied to those of us who are mixed and also pass as white. What has been directed at me is an unending amount of microaggression, which led to debilitating self-doubt that I don’t have the right to claim myself entirely. Color Me In was my chance to write the book I never had growing up: a story that acknowledges the privileges of being white-passing without in any way detracting from the right that we as mixed-race people have to own our identities.

 

Nevaeh’s sixteenth birthday is a big moment in the book. What was your own sixteenth birthday like, and why did you decide to focus on this occasion?

Truthfully . . . I don’t remember if I did anything for my sixteenth birthday. I probably hung out with my boyfriend and maybe went to a free-crib? I definitely did not have a sweet sixteen. I chose that age for Nevaeh because, growing up, I always thought that sixteen was the gateway to almost-adulthood. You are halfway through high school, people are having sex, social life switches from slumber parties to actual parties. It’s a transitional time for anyone, and with everything, Nevaeh is dealing with internally and as a result of her complicated new life, the chaos of that time felt appropriate.

 

What advice would you give your sixteen-year-old self?

RELAX! YOU ARE GOING TO GET INTO COLLEGE. And also, break up with your boyfriend. Being in a long-term relationship is not going to fix the pain of your parents’ divorce, nor is it proof that you won’t make the same mistakes they did. Forcing it is not helping anyone. Go explore. Meet different people.

 

What advice do you have for aspiring writers or teens who might be afraid to use their voices?

Fight past the fear. We need you and your voice now more than ever. Also, anyone who tries to silence you is not a friend.

 

What is your all-time favorite book?

This question is hard. And rude. So I’m just going to say: Harry Potter(s), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and The Color of Water.

 

What was the last book you read?

Sadie by Courtney Summers. So twisty and dark and heartbreaking.

 

What is your writing process like?

Make coffee. Eat a little something. Sit down at a desk. Mess around on Twitter for too long. Unplug the wireless. Turn my phone off. Get about forty-five minutes’ worth of writing done before plugging the wireless back in. Rinse and repeat.

 

What is one fun fact about you?

I have never been behind the wheel of a car and I never, ever will. ←You’re welcome.

 

What is the one thing you want readers to know about Color Me In?

Color Me In is the book of my heart, but it is also a call to action. I hope Nevaeh’s journey inspires you to evaluate your privileges, whatever they may be, and activate them to uplift your various communities.

What questions would you want to ask Natasha? Let us know in the comments below!

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  1. Beshka11

    I think I was inspired by a few others, but I also remember my father writing about this stuff about about his time in the army (and actually his own experiences with PTSD) and about people from his generation having problems like mine. The first issue came out in 2008. I think to me, the whole time, it was important to raise awareness that people have that problem and to use that as a way to explore things in a kinder and gentler way that a lot of kids don’t have.

    How do you play?I was reading your profile for the first time two days ago and it brought back so many memories, and it was a lot of people that brought the stories of me to mind—all kinds of kids all across the country. A lot of them told amazing stories about how they just woke up one morning and their mom and dad just couldn’t believe it, so they were like, “That’s me too!” They didn’t have that much confidence.

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