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The Reading Culture

Rabbit Holes: Brandy Colbert on Deep Research and Deep Characters

The Reading Culture
The Reading Culture
"I'm a bad liar. So I'm just like, I'm really good at telling the truth.” - Brandy Colbert

Going down internet rabbit holes and discovering everything there is to know about random subjects is a relaxing way to spend an evening, according to Brandy Colbert. This passion for research is part of the secret sauce that helps her build such deep and believable characters in her fiction work. In her nonfiction writing, Brandy’s ability to bring humanity to the real “characters” in the story is what brings history to life.

Brandy is a true acolyte of the writing craft. She spent her youth creating stories of her own and occasionally borrowing and reinterpreting tales from TV. After studying journalism in college she spent the early stages of her career contributing to niche magazines, where she honed her research prowess.

Today, Brandy brings all those skills together to write gripping, detail-oriented, character-driven fiction and nonfiction stories.

Brandy Colbert is known for works such as "Little & Lion," which won the Stonewall Book Award, "The Only Black Girls in Town," and "Pointe". Meanwhile, her nonfiction book about the Tulsa Race Massacre, "Black Birds in the Sky" won the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award.

In this episode, she tells us where she developed and honed her research skills, how she brings characters to life, and why a character by any other name is just…. not the same character.


Connect with Jordan and The Reading Culture @thereadingculturepod and subscribe to our newsletter at thereadingculturepod.com/newsletter.


In Brandy’s reading challenge, "Powerful Nonfiction" she challenges us to read a list of nonfiction books that she says will, “open minds, challenge assumptions, and highlight the power of historical truth.”

You can find her list and all past reading challenges at thereadingculturepod.com.

Today’s Beanstack Featured Librarian is Cindy Philbeck, Teacher-Librarian at Wando High School in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She told us a heartwarming story about a student's discovery of Sabaa Tahir's All My Rage.


Chapter 1 - Reading in the Ozarks (1:47)

Chapter 2 - Early heartbreaks (5:54)

Chapter 3 - A Midwestern college experience (11:57)

Chapter 4 - A Humanist View (14:00)

Chapter 5 - Women’s muscles (17:43)

Chapter 6 - Rejections (19:58)

Chapter 7 - Write what you know research (23:55)

Chapter 8 - A bad liar (27:37)

Chapter 9 - Black Jewish Lesbians (exist) (30:19)

Chapter 10 - Powerful Nonfiction (36:55)

Chapter 11 - Beanstack Featured Librarian (37:44)


Host: Jordan Lloyd Bookey

Producer: Jackie Lamport and Lower Street Media

Script Editors: Josia Lamberto-Egan, Jackie Lamport, Jordan Lloyd Bookey

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