Publishers' Preview: Spring 2022: Five Questions for Vincent Tirado

This interview originally appeared in the March/April 2022 Horn Book Magazine as part of the Publishers’ Previews: Spring 2022, 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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In Burn Down, Rise Up, a school project on urban planner Robert Moses is making Raquel see her South Bronx neighborhood differently — as is the unsettling appearance of what look like zombies roaming the streets and subways. Can she stop them?

1. School uniforms: for or against?

Neutral. I’ve heard the argument for uniforms: kids will bully each other based on what they wear, so they should wear the same thing. But when I was in school, I was often made fun of for having cheap shoes. My family was poor, and I didn’t want to burden my mom with trying to buy me anything that cost more than twenty dollars if I could help it. You can’t really stop bullying by removing the things that make us different — you have to deal with people’s inner need to feel superior.

2. Do you carry a resguardo like Raquel tries to remember to do?

I have friends who are brujas who gift me such charms from time to time. They’re so pretty and the gesture is so loving that I do accept them, but I don’t carry them everywhere I go.

3. Someone hauls out a Ouija board at a party. What do you do?

I leave. Expeditiously. I consume a lot of horror media, especially the kind that digs into demonic possession and exorcisms, but I don’t like the idea of introducing something into my life without knowing anything about it — and that includes spirits. I don’t really care if someone calls me scared. Being scared is good. Fear is good — it keeps you alive. I would like to stay that way if I can.

4. What’s the first place in the South Bronx you would want someone to visit?

THE POINT Community Development Corporation, which has community at the core of its values. If there’s anything you need, THE POINT (thepoint.org) has resources to help. You can always find something to do there, from art to dancing.

5. What’s the scariest book you ever read?

On Sundays, She Picked Flowers by Yah Yah Scholfield, a Southern Gothic tale about a woman who escapes from her abusive mother to a home in the woods — where there are other things to keep at bay. It was a hauntingly beautiful piece that will always stay with me.

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Photo: Luis Rodriguez.

Roger Sutton
Roger Sutton

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 M.A. in library science from the University of Chicago in 1982 and a B.A. from Pitzer College in 1978. Follow him on Twitter: @RogerReads.

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