Love triangles have long been a romance staple: the tension! The secret, longing looks! The strong possibility that one of them could kill you! (Oh wait… that was just Twilight.) But in Brandy Colbert’s Little & Lion, the beloved love triangle get a fresh new look — and not just because two of the love triangle members are (step) siblings. When Suzette moves home for the summer, she’s juggling confusing feelings about her sexuality, along with concern for her stepbrother, who has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. To make matters more complicated, Suzette and her stepbrother happen to fall for the same girl. Though there’s romance tucked inside this gorgeous novel, it’s ultimately an unforgettable story about discovering — and accepting — yourself, while supporting the friends and family around you. We caught up with Colbert and chatted with her about creativity, inspiration, and more. Scroll on to learn more from this brilliant writer!

Brit + Co: Describe your book in six words or less.

Brandy Colbert: Siblings navigate mental health and relationships.

B+C: Where/when do you do your best writing?

BC: I’m a total night owl, so I usually do my best work between 9pm and 2am. I like the quiet of the nighttime and how it feels like I’m the only one who’s still awake.

B+C: What’s the strangest thing you’ve ever done for book research?

BC: Oh, I think my Google searches are probably pretty strange. I tend to write about heavier topics, so I often find myself reading pretty horrific true stories.

B+C: What’s your go-to cure for when you’re stuck in a creativity rut?

BC: Usually, getting out of the house and spending time with people. If that isn’t possible, I find that good television always spurs creativity. It’s still storytelling, but the fact that it’s a different medium seems to help.

B+C: What two lady heroes do you turn to for inspiration, and why?

BC: I’m really inspired by Issa Rae and Misty Copeland. They’re both wonderful examples of persistence and true talent, and I feel lucky to be living in a time when they’re both creating.

B+C: What’s your latest Instagram obsession?

BC: I love the aesthetic (and humor) of Joy the Baker (@joythebaker), and find such black girl joy in Yara Shahidi’s page (@yarashahidi).

B+C: Can you name a book that you think deserves a little more love + recognition?

BC: I loved Elana K. Arnold’s What Girls Are Made Of, which is tough and gorgeous and I think everyone should read it. As for a book that’s not out yet, I will continue to push Liara Tamani’s Calling My Name, which is out October 24, until everyone I know has read it; it’s a beautiful coming-of-age story that I wish I’d had as a teen.

B+C: What’s next on your to-read pile?

BC:Dread Nation by Justina Ireland, which is out next April! I’ve been looking forward to this book since I first heard about it, and I was lucky to get an advance reader copy.

B+C: What advice do you have for aspiring creative ladies?

BC: Lately, I keep going back to the quote that says the more specific your story, the more universal it is. So I would advise women to create for themselves above anyone else.

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(Featured photo via Jessie Weinberg)