News & Updates

Tuesday, 4 October 2022

In case you missed it, the cover to my third book was revealed at the end of August. I’m still pinching myself at how stunning it is! Here are three things I want you to know about Forever is Now and this beautiful cover:

1. I am so honored to have Alex Cabal’s gorgeous artwork on this cover, and Mallory’s Grigg’s savvy book design. As with my other books, I have had a great experience working collaboratively with my publisher and artists to make sure the cover stands out. I was able to send along comp covers that I liked, as well as send along key images/themes from the book as well as a character sheet of Sadie’s style, personality, etc. Alex took all of these things, and sent along artwork drafts and  we all worked to come to this final image, then Mallory stepped into create the final layout, fronts, and overall design. I love the strength and soft beauty captured in this cover, and I am obsessed with the wild flower element which nods to a garden that holds importance in the story. And the hand wrap? Chef’s kiss! Let’s just say, boxing is a critical coping mechanism for both myself and my main character, Sadie. I’m so happy to have Sadie brought to life here in all her powerful glory.

2. I wrote this book in 2020 when I was struggling with my own mental health. I was having panic attacks on the daily, and deeply triggered by the never ending violence being enacted on Black bodies in this country. This novel is my ode to Black girls and young queer people who live with chronic anxiety, but who want to make a difference in this world. I wanted to write a book in which my characters are full of beautiful contradictions — where it’s possible to be strong and delicate all at the same time. I talk about this more in my author’s note in the book, but writing Sadie’s story saved me during a really hard time. My hope is that some small part of her story will resonate with folks, and give those who need it permission be exactly as they are and know that it is more than enough.

3. I am a poet at heart. I love writing prose and other forms, but poetry will forever be the form I come back to to make sense of the world. Sadie’s story is told in verse because she too is a poet, a storyteller, and writing helps her organize and find her voice when she is feeling alone, small, and hidden. As a a queer Black woman, who lives with chronic anxiety and a myriad of phobias, writing this story in poems was such a cathartic process. It helped me refine and get closer to the core voices and needs of each of my characters. I believe that poetry is for everyone, that it has the power to connect us beyond the bounds of social constructs,  and that it can change a heart, a mind, one word at a time. And so, I’ll leave you with this short excerpt from the novel:

Chapter 1: Cicadas

The sunlight today is thick

with the percussion of wings

and endings.

It’s late May, school is out

and I am wrapped in Aria’s arms.

We are at Lake Merritt in Oakland

and even though she is holding me

she is also speaking heartache:

Sadie, are you listening?

We need to take some space.

I am listening, but I am also

remembering my gram—my mom’s mom

and the noise of her backyard in Baltimore.

How when I was seven, and unafraid of most things

we visited for the first time

in the muggy, humid summer

and I ran around collecting

the empty carcasses of cicadas

off of all the trees.

How come they do that?

I asked Gram.

It’s just the cycle of things, baby,

she answered, standing over

her tomato plants with the hose.

They live underground for years and years,

then one night they emerge from the soil

            and shed the skin of their former selves.

 They only live a day or so with wings,

                                          then they die.

But that noise they make, it’s music.

I collected their shells in a jar that trip,

brought them back to California with me.

At night, in my room when I can’t sleep

I look at them in the moonlight

on my bookshelf.

I imagine their hissing and the way

Gram’s yard was an orchestra of sound.

All this time, I thought I was holding on to

that memory                of being a kid.

My body free of most terrors, full of dreams

and questions.

The brown dust of the cicadas on my bookshelf


bottled away in my heart.

But this January, I turned sixteen

and when I blew out my candles

everything shifted, again.

Worry a growing thing, a living shadow

braided into my DNA—new anxieties

slamming my mind shut like a door.

And now, hearing Aria say the words:

                       I think  we need                       space.

My chest hammers, my palms sweat

my head screams:

               You’re too much to handle,

               too much mess.

Sadie, say something.

Can you hear me?

Aria says again.

I hear her.

But I am also thinking of the jar,

of the audacity of those empty brown shells,

of Gram’s words: They only live a day or so

with wings.

Why come out of the ground at all?

If when you emerge                finally

wings sharp and iridescent

life as you know it

can be over in a flash?

Copyright @ Mariama J Lockington


Forever is Now will be out May 23, 2023. Preorder now!

Preorder via Joseph Beth Booksellers 

Preorder via Amazon

Preorder via Barnes and Noble

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Mariama J. Lockington has over thirteen years of experience working as a K-12 educator in the nonprofit sector and currently works for the University of Kentucky’s College of Education. She enjoys teaching hands-on writing workshops and speaking with young people about their stories. Learn More