Author Lydia Ruffles spills the tea on her new book, Colour Me In, out 9 August.

10 Things You Need to Know About Colour Me In

  1. Colour Me In is about a 19-year-old actor called Arlo Thomas who flees to the other side of the world after a tragedy, taking only a sketchbook full of maps.
  2. I got part of the idea from creeping around a derelict building and another bit from a deep YouTube spiral about how globes are made. More came while I was lost in Tokyo doing research for the story. All this grew into a book about friendship and first love, mental health and masculinity, art and adventure. It also has rabbits.
  3. Second novels are hard. Making aesthetics helped and are also a fun way to procrastinate.
  4. The first sentence is, “Memories of the little forest at the bottom of the swimming pool flood Arlo the second the plane flings its great bulk into the sky.” I added it in the final edit. Another favourite line is, “One of the building’s doors hangs from its hinges, fringed by wild fronds that shine like fibre optic lights in the strange island sun.”
  5. The cover was designed by Leo Nickolls. Art direction was by Alison Padley, who also did the hardback and paperback covers for my debut, The Taste of Blue Light.
  6. I wrote some of it in an underground capsule hotel, which features in the story.
  7. Some people get salty about epigraphs – the quotes or proverbs that sometimes appear at the front of books – but I like them. In my early drafts, I had Troye Sivan lyrics but they cost $s to use so I switched them out when I found a Confucius quote which perfectly sums up what the book is about – “No matter where you go, there you’ll be.” (PS Love you, Troye.)
  8. My editor Polly Lyall Grant and I decided the original title didn’t fit halfway through editing. We spent weeks emailing each other suggestions and keeping a list of our faves. Colour Me In finally came just as I was falling asleep one night. I flung myself out of bed to write it down in case it fell out of my head while I slept.
  9. Arlo is mentioned briefly in The Taste of Blue Light. He’s a bit older so this one isn’t set in the arts school where Blue takes place but his and Lux’s (the main character from Blue) paths cross more than once.
  10. If you like contemporary YA that’s half dark and half dreamy, Colour Me In is for you. Tag me @lydiaruffles if you’re reading it!