Susan Bradley’s YA mystery series is about Autumn Covarrubias, a green-eyed Nancy Drew who also happens to be Mexican.
I sat across from the interviewer and stared at her in disbelief. She repeated her question, “Do you really consider yourself Hispanic?”
I was still very young and didn’t have the filters I have today. My reply was, “Um, both my parents were born in Mexico, 95% of my extended family lives in Mexico, I spoke Spanish before I spoke English, and I spent summers in Mexico with my grandparents. So hell yes, I consider myself Mexican.” I could tell she didn’t believe me.
So why I am telling this story? Sometimes people, like the interviewer above, have these preconceived ideas about what a Latina should look like. Beauties like Penelope Cruz, Selena Gomez, and Selma Hayek come to mind.
I don’t look like that. I do have the dark hair, but I have green eyes (a dominant gene in my Hispanic family) and fair skin. Not to mention, that my last name is Bradley — the surname of my Irish grandfather. He was my only grandparent who was not born in Mexico. He was a New Yorker that came to teach in Mexico and fell in love.
Europeans settled in Mexico just as they did in America. Those are some of my ancestors. In my young adult mysteries series, I purposely gave my main character, Autumn Covarrubias, green eyes. She is smart, feisty, and fiercely loyal to her family. It was paramount that I try to show different facets of the Hispanic community. She intends on putting her education and career first. Romance is second.
I didn’t purposely set out to write about a diverse character. I wanted to write about my experiences and show my community in a different light. There was not a Hispanic Nancy Drew-like character I could relate to, so I set out to write about a Mexican female sleuth — someone who would resonate with Latinas who love to read mysteries, like me. They deserve to see themselves on the page and know what is possible. Autumn is a gifted student and intends to be the first person in her family to go to college. Her parents support this dream 100% because they want what is best for their daughter and didn’t think that dream was possible for them.
In Unraveled, she solves her sister’s murder. In Uncovered, she helps the local police investigate a series of kidnappings that are part of an online survivor game. My goal in continuing to write about Autumn is to break some of the stereotypes surrounding young Hispanic women. I want to give them a heroine they can be proud to claim as their own.
Susan Bradley grew up in South Texas, about ten miles from the U.S.-Mexican border. Her first young adult mystery, Unraveled, was published by Evernight Teen in 2013 and the sequel, Uncovered, is on sale now. Susan loves spending time with her daughter, estates sales, traveling, and discovering new books. She holds a MFA from Seton Hill University.