Natasha Diaz
Q&A With Natasha Díaz, Author of Color Me In

In August, we at PRH Audio start feeling a little nostalgic—remembering summers past even as we savor the gems of the current season. We sat down with debut YA author Natasha Díaz to talk about her new audiobook, Color Me In, and what memories make her late-summer nostalgia list.

Tell us a little about Color Me In.

Color Me In is an #ownvoices, contemporary, coming-of-age story about Nevaeh Levitz, a biracial (Black and White Ashkenazi Jewish) 15-going-on-16-year-old who is also white-passing. Nevaeh is going through many transitions as she adjusts to her parent’s separation, splitting time between the affluent suburbs of White Plains where she was raised, and Harlem, NYC, where her mother’s Black Baptist family lives. Rather than planning for a sweet sixteen, Nevaeh’s father decides he needs to take back cultural control and makes her prepare for a belated Bat Mitzvah, making her even more of an outcast at her mostly white, posh private school. As she goes through her sophomore year, Nevaeh falls in love, uncovers a secret about her mother’s past, and tries to find her place between her two worlds as she comes to terms with her privileges and finds her voice.

Is there a character from this book that you already miss writing or would like to spend more time with, and why?

Oh, I miss and love all of them, but Stevie is the character I would love to get to spend more time with (both on the page and in the flesh). He is such a fun, confident, exuberant character that has so much love to give. I also admire his passion for dancing and the drive with which he goes for it at all times, unafraid to put himself out there and be adventurous and silly.

Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?

Real talk, ‘book’ was my first word after ‘mama’ and ‘dada.’ My mother is an actor/playwright and my father is a poet so writing was infused into my DNA from a very early age. I always wrote poetry to express myself and took every opportunity I could to write, whether it was the speech for my middle school graduation, contributions to the literary journal in high school, or choosing to pursue an English major in college, writing is something that has always made me feel whole.

What sound makes you feel the most nostalgic? (Is it someone’s voice? Is it a song? Whatever “sound” means to you!)

Probably the Beatles song, “Blackbird.” My dad sang it to me every night before bed but he would let me choose the color of the bird and I always tried to make it really complicated so I
would say “polka dot bird” or “rainbow bird” that would totally mess up the flow of the song, but he made it work.

What was your favorite book or audiobook as a child?

Abiyoyo! It’s a South African folk tale that Pete Seeger adapted into a short story/picture book. I can’t remember who read the recording, but the voice actor had a really deep voice and I listened to the cassette tape over and over when I was younger, even though when they got to the parts with the giant it got a little scary.

Listen to a clip of Bahni Turpin reading Natasha Díaz’s debut, Color Me In:

Author: Natasha Díaz
Read By: Bahni Turpin

Debut YA author Natasha Díaz pulls from her personal experience to inform this powerful coming-of-age novel about the meaning of friendship, the joyful beginnings of romance, and the racism and religious intolerance that can both strain a family to the breaking point and strengthen its bonds.

Find more author and narrator Q&As here!