Interesting Intersections: An Interview with Maisha Oso and a Giveaway!! (U.S. only, please)
Updated: Mar 23
Today, I'm so excited to introduce--or reintroduce if you already know Maisha--to my blog. Maisha is represented by Jemiscoe Chambers-Black of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency. She is also the author of BUSTER THE BULLY, out now from Welbeck Children's Books.
You can find her on:
Twitter at @MaishaWrites
or on her website https://www.maishaoso.com/
I'm so excited you are here with me to chat about all things writing!
CK, Thanks again for giving me the opportunity to be on your blog.
Or course! I was wondering if you could share any pictures of your writing space or spaces with us.
I have to share 2 because a lot of my initial writing gets done in my car on my notes app while I’m waiting in a school pickup or drop-off line. But, when I want to feel like I have my stuff together, I’m in my home office.
Wow! You can write while in the car? That is amazing. I'm actually very jealous of that because I get distracted easily. Why are these places great for your creativity?
The first is great for my creativity because I’m in the car with (or about to pick up) a captive audience the exact age of my intended readership. My kids are 6, 4, and almost 2, so not only do I get to test story ideas on them, but their ridiculous conversations often give me new material.
My home office is great because it houses the books of so many brilliant writers, and I’ve found that reading not only helps me with my craft, but it really sparks my creativity.
Tell us a bit about yourself and why you became a writer. I always find these journeys so fascinating.
To be honest, I had no idea that I’d ever be a writer. I knew I loved writing poetry when I was much younger, but life got in the way, and I found myself with a career in strategy and analytics for several years. In 2013 my husband and I packed up and went abroad to Africa for his job. We lived in Kenya and South Africa and I became a mother while living overseas. I loved reading to my kids, and after a while, a spark was ignited, and I decided that I wanted to write stories of my own.
When I think about my personal story, what's interesting is that all those years I was working in analytics, I had no idea I was a creative. In hindsight, I can look back and see that I loved projects where I had to create something new, streamline a process, or come up with a strategic framework. But it wasn't until I poured myself into writing that I realized that while I was very good at my old job, my natural gifts are in the creative space. It makes me wonder, how many more writers, illustrators, designers are out in this world that don't even realize or have forgotten they are creatives.
I love your author origin story and reading how you realized you are a creative. I'm so glad you are writing your own stories and they are making their way into the world. Now, we’re dying to know about you and, if you are willing to share, your intersections.
Sure. I’m a Black American, cisgender woman. I’m Christian, and politically, I lean super left.
May I ask if the plot of your current book/WIP or your main character mirrors you in any way?
I’m currently working on a picture book where the MC tries to blend in to make friends and feel accepted but loses herself in the process. While that’s not my story now, I can say that that definitely has been me at different points in my life.
This sounds like a much-needed story written by someone who experienced this. Publishers: Take note! Speaking of mirroring, who is one intersectional author you find inspirational and why?
Wow, this is a tough one. Ok, so I have to say Jason Reynolds because he does such an amazing job at making reading accessible and enjoyable to a bunch of folks who probably wouldn’t be reading otherwise. The voice in his books is just so captivating. I grew up in Jamaica, Queens in New York City, and I feel like he speaks to a generation of people who grew up like me. I recently shared one of his books with two people who aren’t big readers, and neither of them could put it down. One of them even said verbatim, “I didn’t know there were books like this”.
He is such a phenomenal author and I love that he uses his voice to push for change. We've started to see a major shift in that publishing is making strides to be inclusive. What is one hope you have for the future of publishing?
I hope that one day the beautiful diversity of the world is reflected inside of literary agencies, publishing houses, and on the pages of countless books for children and young adults.
Me, too! And great point about not only publishing the books but having diversity at all levels. This is so very important, and I adore that you brought it up. Thank you so much for stopping by to share a piece of your writing life with us. It is truly an honor. I wish you all the luck in the world getting stories like yours into the hands of children!
I'm giving away a copy of Maisha's picture book, BUSTER THE BULLY, as well as a copy of Jason Reynold's STUNTBOY, IN THE MEANTIME. All you have to do is comment here OR comment on my original post on Twitter OR retweet OR quotetweet. I will choose a winner March 27th.
No matter what, give the incredibly talented Maisha Oso a follow!
Written by Maisha Oso
Illustrated by Craig Shuttlewood
Published by Welbeck Children's
Buster is the big fish in a small pond: he is the bully of his fish tank who terrorizes all the smaller fish. But when he gets kicked out and sent to the ocean for his bullying behavior, a shark bullies him! Buster quickly finds a safe hiding spot and as he catches his breath, he reflects on how it feels to be on the receiving end of a bully’s bashing.
So, when Buster sees another little fish in danger of being eaten by the same shark, he comes to the rescue and saves them both. Having gone from bully to bullied to brave, Buster discovers the error of his previous bullying ways and vows to change for the better.
This rhyming picture book shows the perspective of both the bully and the bullied, within the same character, and clearly shows how someone could have a change of heart through experience and empathy.
Written by Jason Reynolds
Illustrated by Raul the Third
Antheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books
Portico Reeves’s superpower is making sure all the other superheroes—like his parents and two best friends—stay super. And safe. Super safe. And he does this all in secret. No one in his civilian life knows he’s actually…Stuntboy!
But his regular Portico identity is pretty cool, too. He lives in the biggest house on the block, maybe in the whole city, which basically makes it a castle. His mom calls where they live an apartment building. But a building with fifty doors just in the hallways is definitely a castle. And behind those fifty doors live a bunch of different people who Stuntboy saves all the time. In fact, he’s the only reason the cat, New Name Every Day, has nine lives.
All this is swell except for Portico’s other secret, his not-so-super secret. His parents are fighting all the time. They’re trying to hide it by repeatedly telling Portico to go check on a neighbor “in the meantime.” But Portico knows “meantime” means his parents are heading into the Mean Time which means they’re about to get into it, and well, Portico’s superhero responsibility is to save them, too—as soon as he figures out how.
Only, all these secrets give Portico the worry wiggles, the frets, which his mom calls anxiety. Plus, like all superheroes, Portico has an arch-nemesis who is determined to prove that there is nothing super about Portico at all.