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  • Writer's pictureElnora Gunter

The Place that Made Me: Jade Adia

What's a neighborhood?

An address? A street sign? A place on a map?

When you look at the wire fences, the old school car parked in the driveway, and the old heads playing Spades in the front yard, what do you see?

Something that needs to be fixed? Changed? Torn down and built back up again in the holy outlet image of Old Navy, Whole Foods Mid-America?

Or do you see the community? The people that live there, grow up there, and thrive there. Look again and you'll see the beauty: a living, moving, incomparable work of art that should be respected for what it is rather than erased for what it isn't.

So what's the best way to write a love letter to your community?

You write a book, of course.

And that's just what author Jade Adia did.

1. Welp, the first question is the one all in the writing community love to know! What’s the story of your writing and publication journey?

I wrote THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD while quarantined with my family during

the summer of 2020. These were the months when we all witnessed an incredible

outpouring of support for #BlackLivesMatter, but also so much pain. Writing felt like a

way to cope with the anxiety of the moment while also creating a space for myself to

imagine Black and brown teens thriving alongside their found family, falling in love, and

being absolutely ridiculous.

I drafted the novel in six weeks. I queried and got a few full requests, but no offers. A

few months later, I applied to PitchWars and didn’t get in, but I met some amazing

authors who were willing to give me feedback anyway. I kept editing until I felt ready to

cold query again. I got multiple offers and signed with the incredible Jim McCarthy. We

edited again, then went on submission. I ended up in an auction with entirely editors of

color across multiple houses, which was a dream. I signed with Rebecca Kuss at Disney-Hyperion who had sent Jim an email so personal and passionate responding to

my story that it literally made me cry! I knew right then that we’d be great together and

working with her and our editorial assistant Ashley I. Fields has been amazing ever


2. Your debut book, THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD, centers on Rhea and

her group of friends using social media to prevent the gentrification of their

neighborhood. What was your inspiration for writing a YA novel with social media

as a plot point? In what ways do you see this being accepted more and more as

a plot device in YA contemporary and realistic novels?

I love dark humor and Gen Z has fully mastered a new era of comedy through the ways

in which they interact online. It felt natural to write a story that celebrates the ingenious

way that young people – particularly young Black creatives – use social media to

critique and poke fun at the world around us. Social media is part of our lives, and I

think it’s here to stay at a plot device in YA contemporary.

3. Issa Rae is a fellow South L.A., Black creative who has expressed wanting to

show the beauty of her neighborhood as opposed to it always being portrayed as

a place rife with gang violence and synonymous with the crack epidemic. Did you

also share this goal when writing your book? What do you hope to be the biggest

takeaway for readers after experiencing Rhea’s story and her connection to her


Definitely! I have the utmost respect for Issa Rae. Without a doubt, I share the same

goal of showing South LA as a gorgeous, diverse collection of interconnected

communities. South LA is such a sacred place where people feel rooted because of our

connections to neighbors, local businesses and loved ones that share the block. Rhea

understands that gentrification is violent because it destabilizes these fragile

ecosystems of human connection that not only make South LA special but also make

life worth living. I want readers to walk away ready to talk about the harms of

gentrification in a way and center the lived experiences of those most at risk of

displacement and cultural erasure.

4. Unfortunately, sometimes books that contain an element of social commentary

are quickly labeled as issue books. Did you ever have this occur when seeking

representation for this book–someone concluding it was only about

gentrification? What would you tell readers and others who might read a book’s

summary and make these assumptions? And what are your thoughts on some

questioning the place of “issue” books”?

My issue with the label of “issues books” is that, in my eyes, it is a concept steeped in

the white gaze. This is not to say that marginalized writers who have embraced this

term are wrong to do so; however, it feels ridiculous to me when publishing

professionals see a story about a person of color living their full, dynamic life, then slap

it with a label suggesting that the primary purpose of telling this story is to teach white

people about racism. I know that this tension is intersectional and goes beyond race –

this affects stories about queer and disabled people as well. To me, it feels like just

another way to “politely” sideline our stories.

My story is a dark comedy about found family, told through a conversation about

gentrification. I’m so lucky that every single person on my team recognizes this first and

foremost. I want people to know that this story is silly as hell, full of people falling in

love, and laughing while making completely ridiculous choices. The characters in my

book are all Black and brown, and they live in a community full of queer, disabled,

socioeconomically diverse people who share their skin tones. Living in a dynamic

community and going on an adventure to protect that space doesn’t make it an “issue”

book. To the reader who’s tempted to pigeonhole my book, I’d ask you to just let my

characters be free and enjoy the wild ride!

5. What are your writerly forms of self-care? Does this become something you

adhere to more strongly since writing under contract?

I always let myself enjoy a massive mug of Earl Grey tea before I start writing. I sit at my

desk, look out the window, and take pleasure in the moment before I begin writing for

the day. I’m so sentimental about these moments as creators when we get to just think

about our stories without the pressure of a rude Word doc glaring at us like, “Sooo, how

much we writing today, sis?”

Ok, now it’s time for the ‘fun’ questions!

6. As a self-proclaimed "nerd" in your Insta bio, which convention would be your dream to

host a book birthday party for THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD?

a. Comic-Con San Diego

b. DragonCon

c. Anime Expo

d. Pax Expo

I would DIE if I got to talk about literally anything at Comic-Con San Diego. Simply

perish. Combust. So many of my biggest creative inspirations come from cartoons and

the comic book world. A big ol’ nerd dream of mine is to do a panel there, then get

dressed in full Steven Universe cosplay to go hang with a bunch of fellow weirdos.

7. The secret to lovely, moisturized lock for the curly-haired girls (you have amazing

hair, btw!)

I finally found a silk bonnet that actually stays on my big head instead of running off to

god knows where in the middle of the night, and let me tell you… the haircare game has

been CHANGED!!!

8. List 5 L.A. rappers, singers, or other artists who you’d pick for a feature on


Dom Kennedy, Jhené Aiko, Kendrick Lamar, Cuco, Frank Ocean


Born and raised in Los Angeles, Jade Adia is a 20-something author who

writes stories about gentrification, Black teen joy, and the sh*tshow that is

capitalism. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Ethnicity, Race &

Migration. She is currently in law school, specializing in Critical Race


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