Publishers' Preview: Diverse Books: Five Questions for Mariama J. Lockington

This interview originally appeared in the May/June 2023 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Diverse Books, an advertising supplement that allows participating publishers a chance to each highlight a book from its current list. They choose the books; we ask the questions.

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After being dumped by her girlfriend and witnessing a racist arrest in the same afternoon, Sadie finds it almost impossible to leave her bedroom, let alone the house. Forever Is Now documents one teen’s experience with anxiety — and injustice.

1. What social media app is waiting to be invented?

Maybe something to do with music. An app where you can not only make playlists but also engage with others who enjoy the same artists or genres — a virtual listening lounge of sorts. Some activism element would be cool — listening rooms for particular causes and conversations, or a board where you can pin other forms of art that a particular song inspires.

2. Where do you feel safest?

As much as I love being an author, visiting new places, and engaging with readers, I’m definitely a homebody at heart. I feel safest when I am at home with my wife, my dog, my plants, and all my books. Home to me is people over things, but as a first-time homeowner, it’s been nice to also think of home as a physical space that grounds me in all that I love.

3. What do you love about where you live?

I love that Lexington, Kentucky, is home to one of the oldest gay bars in the country and that it has a rich queer community and history. I love that I can drive from cityscape to green horse pastures in a matter of minutes and how stunningly beautiful the landscape is.

4. What books do you read over and over again for comfort?

Sula by Toni Morrison, Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston, and a newer title, The Women Could Fly by Megan Giddings. None is particularly “comforting,” but when I go back to them, I always learn something new.

5. Tell me a good first step for a young person interested in working for racial justice.

Never forget that empathy is a superpower. Spend time talking and hanging out with people outside of your community, do research on topics you care about so you can be well educated when you encounter someone who may not be, and learn when to speak up and when to listen. There is power in both.

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Photo: Adrianne Mathiowetz.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

Editor Emeritus Roger Sutton was editor in chief of The Horn Book, Inc., from 1996-2021. He was previously editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books and a children's and young adult librarian. He received his MA in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a BA from Pitzer College in 1978.

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