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Meet the Author of ‘Brown Girls’, Daphne Palasi Andreades
Image Credit Daphne Palasi Andreades

At Yuty, wellness goes beyond skin-deep. How you feel, where you’re going, and how you see your place in the world all matter. This is why we are curating books that broaden your view and allow you to discover meaningful insights through brilliant authors and the worlds they create. 

We’re delighted to be giving away 15 copies of Daphne Palasi Andreades’ debut novel, Brown Girls, on Yuty’s instagram. Additionally, one lucky person will also win a £50.00 Gift Card for Yuty.me.

Daphne Palasi Andreades’ original work, Brown Girls, brings to tender poetic life the stories of a group of friends growing up in Queens, New York. Unapologetically brave in its lyrical prose, Andreades uses a chorus of voices to highlight the ups and downs, trials and successes, loving moments and heartbreaks of these women of colour. Here is a tale of growing up and of adulthood, of the myriad choices that beckon to women (and the consequences), and the questing yearning for reconciliation as immigrants in America. 

 

Describe the moment that birthed the idea for Brown Girls.

In 2017, I was a second-year graduate student studying creative writing in New York City. At the time, I felt very self-conscious, very inhibited, in my work—I felt there were things I couldn’t say, but in reality, I was too afraid to say them: about being a person of color and an immigrant kid, for example. Thankfully, I had an amazing teacher who encouraged me to take risks in my work. She quoted Toni Morrison in class one day: "If there’s a book you want to read, but it has not been written yet, then you must be the one to write it.” Hearing these words sparked my imagination and helped me feel free and bold on the page. I immediately started writing on the subway home from class that day—I realized that the story I desperately longed to read, but had not seen represented in art or literature, was one that centered women of color, the daughters of immigrants, coming-of-age in one of the most diverse places in the world, Queens, New York, which is also my hometown.

 

What was your vision for your book?

My vision for my debut novel, Brown Girls, was to illustrate women of color and immigrant communities, from this particular region, in all their beauty and complexity. I was interested in writing about the complicated relationship one might have to home and history. I hoped to write a story where other people of color and immigrant kids could see their experiences reflected, too. Lastly, I wanted to challenge myself, as a writer, by making unconventional choices in my novel: using a choral voice, a vignette structure, and blurring poetry and prose, to tell the story.

 

What’s a defining piece of feedback you’ve had about being an author that validated what you’re doing?

The words: “Keep going.” I can’t count the number of times I wanted to give up on writing and pursuing art as a career, in general. It’s a difficult path, one that’s filled with much uncertainty and doubt. But those words, “keep going,” spoken to me by my mentors, loved ones, writer friends, and my partner lifted me up. My community encouraged and believed in me when I didn’t believe in myself. They reminded me, time and time again, that my work was urgent and would speak to others. Hearing this gave me the strength to continue.

How has your upbringing influenced who you are today?

My parents, and my immigrant community in Queens, showed me what it looks like to dream big and work hard to make those dreams a reality. They taught me about having humor, as well as grit. My family are the best storytellers I know—they weave in slang, Filipino dialect, memories, songs, history. Their stories are simultaneously funny, honest, heartbreaking, surprising. They model for me how complex and layered stories can be, which I’ve brought into my own storytelling.

 

What’s been the most valuable beauty advice you’ve received?

Whenever I get stressed out—these days, it’s because of good things like book events, signings, and interviews; when I overwhelmed beforehand, and don’t know what to wear or how I want to present myself—I think of my mom, whose approach to beauty and style is: elegance in simplicity. This helps me pare down and calm down. There is elegance, for example, in simple pearl earrings, my favorite black sweater, winged eyeliner. I remember that I don’t have to try so hard.

 

Describe your beauty routine and the one product you can’t live without.

My beauty routine varies, depending on the day. For example, I’ve had different virtual and in-person events to celebrate the launch of Brown Girls—For these events, I get a bit more glammed up, which helps me feel more confident and put-together. Doing these events, though, has been a very new and different pace, especially after more than two years of COVID, where I’d seldom leave the house. I’m adjusting to being with others again, and my beauty routine is shifting, too. One product I can’t live without, especially during these cold,winter days, is my favorite moisturizer. It contains oat and has a creamy texture.

 

What does beauty mean to you?

Beauty, to me, goes beyond the physical. It means possessing an inner strength, as well as a love for oneself, flaws and all. To me, beauty also encompasses intelligence and the courage to speak one’s mind.

 

What has writing this book taught you about yourself?

It has taught me that I am more determined and stronger than I ever thought I was. All those times I wanted to give up, for personal reasons and hardships like COVID—what is most important, in the end, was that I always came back to my art. 

 

Who inspires you most in either life, beauty, fashion or music?

This may sound cheesy, but it’s absolutely true: I am inspired by, and indebted to, the women, BIPOC, and immigrant artists who came before me. Because they helped me recognize myself in literature and paved a way for me to become an artist, too. The authors Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, Toni Morrison, Zora Neale Hurston, Zadie Smith, Arundhati Roy, Jhumpa Lahiri, Edwidge Danticat, and Mieko Kawakami come to mind. Cardi B, too, because she is so funny. And of course, my family.

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