Kosoko Jackson knows there’s always room for more Black queer stories

· Updated on February 15, 2024

If you’re in need of a good read, then look no further than Kosoko Jackson‘s novels. A digital storyteller by day and an author by night, Jackson has been shaping literature across a variety of genres for years. Whether its a pleasant culinary rom-com, like A Dash of Salt and Pepper, intense thrillers like Survive the Dome, or, most recently, the paranormal horror-fantasy The Forest Demands its Due, Jackson always has one calling card, featuring Black queer protagonists.

As a vocal champion of diversity in young adult literature, Jackson is bringing more Black queer representation to the forefront with each novel. His efforts won him a Lambda Literary Award in 2023 for his rom-com I’m So (Not) Over You, which featured two Black queer protagonists. With three new projects in the works, INTO chatted with Jackson for our Get INTO It interview series about how what he hopes Black queer people take away from his novels, why Beyoncé’s country era has him in a chokehold, and his advice to aspiring Black queer writers.

What three words would you use to describe your writing and why?

Diverse. Explorative. Engaging. I want all of my novels to have diverse elements so everyone can be seen. I’m really passionate about, each book, pushing myself as an author. And I like to think my narratives have engaging plots that keep readers guessing. 

Your work ranges from romantic comedies like I’m So (Not) Over You and thrillers like your latest book The Forest Demands Its Due. However, is there a genre you tend to gravitate towards?

I tend to write what I’m feeling. I’m lucky enough to have an agent who supports this. Right now, I’m really into science fiction and fantasy, but that may change. I hope to explore almost every genre at one point or another in my career. 

One defining characteristic of your work is the focus on Black queer protagonists. What do you hope Black queer people take away from reading your books?

I want Black queer people to take away that they can be anything. Heroes villains, side characters, love interests, etc. There is no pigeonholing in my stories and I think that’s important, magical, and wonderful. 

As someone who has written young adult novels, you’re versed in writing about defining teenage moments. However, what is a queer pop culture moment defined your teenage years or childhood?

I didn’t grow up with a huge amount of queer rep, but Marco from Degrassi made me feel seen. His coming out episode was the first episode of Degrassi I saw. I also loved watching True Blood and all the queer rep there – although I had to watch bootleg copies at 1AM. I also read a lot of queer manga. 

Out of all of your novels, what was your favorite one to write and what was your most challenging one to write and why?

Tough question! Currently its The Forest Demands Its Due, but that changes with each book. Not only is this one the most recent, but I always wanted to be a fantasy author. And here I am!

Of course there are folks who are obsessed with your work, but we’d like to know what’s a book, movie, song/album, or TV show that you’re obsessed with right now and why?

Texas Hold ‘Em” by Beyoncé has me in a chokehold and will not let go for a long while. I’m also relistening to MUNA a lot, and falling in love with SZA again. I’m very excited to see Dune 2 and already have my midnight tickets. 

In what ways have you grown as a writer since publishing your first book?

I like to think my plotting is a lot stronger than it used to be years ago and my ability to craft intricate stories with multiple threads. That has made it so my novels can be more expansive, I feel. There are so many types of stories I want to write, and being able to write those complex novels is great and something I look forward to expanding. 

Lastly, what advice would you give to Black queer writers aspiring to publish their novels? 

It might seem like there are no spaces for your stories, but I promise you, we need more queer Black stories. We need more novels about people like us and more novels that are more than just coming out stories. We need novels that show our wide range of differences. Your voice matters. 

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