Middle grade and young adult author Paula Chase is on a mission to showcase Black teenagers in their environment. I recently spoke to her about her latest offering, Turning Point.
Tell me about your book.
Turning Point is about a summer of change for two friends. One goes away to a ballet intensive, while the other remains home hostage to her aunt’s many rules. They both struggle to find their footing in their new circumstances, and eventually both begin to question who they should be when the road grows bumpy.
Why did you decide to write it?
My goal is to showcase Black teenagers in their environment. What that means changes with every story, which is exactly the point. There is no single environment, but there are circumstances that are attached to individuals based on their home, how they’re being raised, their neighborhood. In this case, I took a character who is fiercely independent and from a rough-and-tumble working class neighborhood and placed her in a very white, very traditional space. Then I took another character who is being raised by a very devout Christian aunt and gave her more time than she knows what to do with. The point was to see what would come of them as they find themselves having to navigate their new spaces without the usual armor that friendship provides.
What’s one thing readers would be surprised to learn about you?
I can be a really silly person. I love quoting from movies, songs and TV shows to express myself.
To what do you attribute your success?
Persistence. You can tell me no if you want, but it doesn’t mean very much to me.
What do you hope your legacy will be?
That I refused to allow Black readers or Black creatives to remain marginalized.
What’s the most difficult part of being an author?
Having to promote books. Book promotion uses a different set of skills than writing books and having to switch between the two is exhausting. I wish I could write the book, wish it well and then move on to the next book.
What was your most memorable experience writing this book?
Turning Point was due to my editor last summer. It was also the same time that I needed a fairly major surgery. I had started it but then left it unattended for months. Right after my surgery I started writing again and the clock over my head was ticking furiously. I wrote the first draft in 55 days. It’s something I will never do again. It nearly broke me.
What’s next for you?
I can’t announce it just yet, but I have something really exciting on the horizon. I hope the readers will love it. It’s a project I’ve been wanting to write for years. I’ll just say this, when it hits it has the potential to change the landscape for books featuring Black characters.
To learn more about Paula Chase, visit her website or connect with her on social media.
Use Black Fiction Addiction’s affiliate link to purchase your copy of Turning Point.