With every heated discussion about new immigration legislation, what鈥檚 often lost in the conversation are the incredible stories of the immigrants who have made America their home. This narrative gets top billing in Ibi Zoboi鈥檚 American Street, a gorgeous glimpse at life in Detroit as a young Haitian immigrant. In between balancing new-kid-at-school challenges, new BFFs (in the form of her cousins), and an exciting romantic love interest, Fabiola must also deal with the fact that her mother is gone 鈥 detained by immigration and stuck in legal limbo. American Street is a stunning, captivating read that will have you questioning just what the 鈥淎merican Dream鈥 means today. We caught up with Zoboi and chatted creativity, new reads on her shelf, and more. Scroll on to learn more from this incredible author!

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

Ibi Zoboi: American dreams can sometimes be nightmares.

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

IZ: I do my best writing at my desk, sitting on my yellow chair, sipping from a yellow mug, next to a window with yellow curtains, at around five o鈥檆lock in the morning.

B+C: What鈥檚 the strangest thing you鈥檝e ever done for book research?

IZ: Looked up all my ex-boyfriends from high school to see which ones were still alive and not in jail.

B+C: What鈥檚 your go-to cure for when you鈥檙e stuck in a creativity rut?

IZ: I take a three-mile walk around the park while listening to certain songs that I think fit the mood of the story. Or I take a shower. Showers, walks, and music are magic!

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

IZ: Katniss Everdeen from The Hunger Gamesseries, and Lauren 鈥淥ya鈥 Olamina from the Parable series by Octavia Butler. Those two young women love their families and their communities and rise to the occasion when power threatens to further suppress their people. They are not completely fearless, but they manage their fears for a greater good. I try to include those same qualities in my characters even in a romance novel or a quirky middle-grade novel.

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B+C: What鈥檚 your latest Instagram (or Tumblr/Twitter/media) obsession?

IZ: I love Instagram the most, so I have a few faves. I鈥檝e been following Mimi G Style (@mimigstyle) for some time. I used to sew as well, and in another life, I would鈥檝e been a fashion designer. I love Mimi鈥檚 style. We鈥檙e the same age and are both moms of three with short haircuts.

I absolutely love Finding Paola (@findingpaola). She is gorgeous and has impeccable style. She鈥檚 Haitian like me so her colors remind me of home. (Editor鈥檚 note: Check out our story on Paola and her gorgeous headwrap brand!)

I also love bite-sized Insta-poetry. Nayyirah Waheed (@nayyirah.waheed) words are thoughtful, wise, and beautiful.

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

IZ: I want to name two that I especially loved this year. Katie Bayerl鈥檚 A Psalm for Lost Girls is a beautiful book that delves deep into spirituality, faith, and miracles. And I always love how Renee Watson examines sisterhood, and in Piercing Me Together; she unpacks classism, mentorship, and the inner lives of black girls.

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

IZ: It鈥檚 summer, and my children are at sleep-away camp, so I鈥檓 getting lost in adult books, which I haven鈥檛 read in a while. I鈥檓 currently dissecting Claudia Rankine鈥檚 Citizen, finally. Then I鈥檓 going to dive into Zinzi Clemmons鈥 What We Lose.

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

IZ: Making time for a mani-pedi is part of the creative process. Even if you plan to spend a few hours at home typing away at a story, dress up for the occasion. Self-care fuels the creative soul. Show up for your creative self and look good while being fully present.

Got an author you鈥檇 love to see interviewed? Tweet us @BritandCo and let us know!

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(Featured photo via Ibi Zoboi)