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
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
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
8. List 5 L.A. rappers, singers, or other artists who you’d pick for a feature on
THERE GOES THE NEIGHBORHOOD: THE SOUNDTRACK.
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