Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Q&A with Emily Locker




Emily Locker is the author of the new young adult novel Running Mates. Also a psychotherapist, she lives in Washington, D.C.


Q: What inspired you to write Running Mates, and how did you create your character Annabelle?


A: I had attempted to write a few novels before Running Mates that all got soundly rejected. The main feedback was that although everyone loved my characters’ chemistry, there wasn’t enough of a hook, especially for a debut novel.


I found my missing hook upon moving back to Washington, D.C., with my husband and two young children, in an unexpected place.


In my youngest child’s nursery school class there was a parent who had been President Obama’s speechwriter and another one who had been Mike Pence’s speechwriter. I was thinking, how is this going to work? But through various family and parent-only events during the year I watched everyone get along swimmingly!


It was there I got the idea that Anna (my liberal protagonist) would fall for the dreamy Gabe (a Republican senator’s son) in a town divided by politics and that fun and chaos would ensue. 


Q: The Publishers Weekly review of the book said, “Locker captures the complexities of real life meeting ideology.” What do you think of that assessment?


A: I love that assessment! I think it is referring to the way we are all so politically divided right now and how this division is perpetuated by social media and other experiences that allow us to hate one another without knowing each other.


In real life, when you’re sitting next to a person or in an overlapping community, like school, or on a sports team, it’s much harder to actually dislike the person, and often we find them quite lovable (even if we don’t love everything about them). Or in Anna and Gabe’s case, simply irresistible!


Q: How would you describe the dynamic between Annabelle and Gabe?


A: Annabelle and Gabe, at their core, are wonderful complements to each other.


Anna wears her heart on her sleeve, she is unafraid to say just how she is feeling, but she can be slightly impulsive. Gabe is more guarded, careful to keep the cool and confident mask in place, but he is very sensitive and steady.


They bring out the best in each other and push each other to be more authentic and less afraid.


Q: What do you hope readers take away from the story?


A: That we can think differently from one another but remain civil, kind, and less extreme, and in that balance is where we will find true change, growth, and even love.


Q: What are you working on now? 


A: I am in the early stages of working on my next novel! I am having tons of fun constructing my hero, who is a bit more of a bad boy than Gabe.


Q: Anything else we should know?


A: I also have a day job. I am a psychotherapist — a job I love.  But having spent much of my career just talking to people, I am very behind on technology. 


Trying to master Instagram has been a funny and awkward endeavor—I am embracing the charmingly awkward vibe —now that I am entering the published author phase of my life!


--Interview with Deborah Kalb

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