Publishers' Preview: Fall 2021: Five Questions for Mark Oshiro

This interview originally appeared in the September/October 2021 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Fall 2021, 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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The Insiders here are outsiders, three kids who are bullied at school for not fitting in. But they each go to a different school, so how is it that they each find a secret Room in their schools for refuge, and somehow, it’s the same Room for all of them?

1. What one thing would appear in every iteration of your Room?

Music in some form. There’s nothing more comforting and inspiring to me than music, so I’d need to have some means of playing it or listening to it.

2. You’ve inspired me to try my hand at making horchata. Any advice?

Well, first I’d recommend figuring out which kind. There are regional differences that are pretty significant. In The Insiders, Héctor’s abuela favors a horchata that is not made with milk, but there are other kinds that are made with it. So: be ad­venturous, go try different kinds, and figure out which ones you like! But that is the extent of my knowledge because I’ve always consumed it, never made it.

3. What’s your top tip for dealing with bullies?

These days, I rely on humor more than anything. Few things strip a person of the power they think they have over you than when you show them you refuse to take them seriously.

4. Main difference between writing for teens and writing for tweens?

Capturing the voice. I had to spend a lot of time considering how Héctor would approach situations by putting myself back into middle-school Mark.

5. Who had your back in middle school?

This is an easy one: Pilar Adams. She is the longest-standing friend I have in my life. Twenty-five years strong now! She was one of the only people who regularly stood up for me, and made it a point to be a fantastic friend.

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Photo: Zoraida Cordova.

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. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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