CountyAnne Arundel County
MSAC Individual Artist Award (IAA)2019
Artist StatementWhen my oldest daughter was eight years old, I realized that fiction featuring protagonists of color were primarily either historical fiction or the characters were from the inner city. In other words, fiction hadn't changed much at all since I was a child. My work was inspired by my need to show the world that cultural experiences of people of color are not monolithic. My fiction is designed to be a mirror for those readers of color that relate to the experiences covered and a window for readers who may not be familiar with the suburban experience of those youth. I believe exposing both the readers who look like my main characters and those who don't, increases empathy for our varied experiences and reminds young readers that we're more alike than different. However, it also honors the unique cultural experiences of contemporary youth of color and ensures they don't feel invisible within today's fiction.
Paula Chase grew up on a healthy diet of Judy Blume, Mildred Taylor and Francine Pascale. Admiring
authors of such differing styles resulted in a forever love of children’s fiction of every variety. In 2006,
she put finger to keyboard and created her own world of characters. The result was her debut YA novel,
So Not the Drama, the first in a five-book series about a multi-cultural group of friends navigating the
highs and lows of high school.
Growing up, Paula never thought about the lack of characters of color in popular fiction. However, when
her 10-year old daughter lost interest in reading she realized how frequently children’s literature either
stereotyped or simply left Black characters out. Dedicated to increasing awareness to children’s books
by authors of color, she launched The Brown Bookshelf with authors Varian Johnson, Kelly Starling Lyons
and Don Tate in 2007. The initiative spawned 28 Days Later, a promotional campaign designed to
highlight the work of authors of color. She remains committed to ensuring that young adult and middle
grade fiction are both inclusive of the many different experiences of persons of color and a
representation of issues they encounter.