Another full session in the Corner theatre, and another pair of women authors who know what they like and what they want. The two debut authors, Sophie Anderson and Tomi Adeyemi spoke well and never once ran out of opinions.
They were ably aided by the beautifully named chair, Fiammetta Rocco, who oversaw not only the crying of Sophie’s youngest child, missing mum, but made sure Tomi retold her Bristol experience in Waterstones when she met a most forceful and aware three-year-old at what was her most favourite event ever…
I loved Sophie’s The House With Chicken Legs, but have not read Tomi’s Children of Blood and Bone. She had plenty of fans in the audience who had, though.
Sophie reckons we are all alike, as well as different, and she uses old stories, renewing them to suit. For Tomi writing is like therapy, and never more so than after a recent incident when police came to her home in California. As a black person she couldn’t be sure she’d even be alive much longer. Writing and tweeting about it helped her get her voice back.
It is bad is when human beings don’t see others as human beings.
Although both authors had given in to the need to remove the parents for plot reasons, Tomi feels things are now moving towards letting parents stay in books. We all think we are right, and as she pointed out, with the microphone she was unstoppable for the moment.
These two almost fought over whose turn it was to speak, which made for a refreshing change from the polite ‘no, you go first’ that you often get in these situations.
Both their books are based on courage. Tomi said she always expects the worst, but that ice cream is nice.
Sophie started her writing late, after various jobs, when the children arrived. Chicken Legs is her sixth book, and she has several bad books in her drawer. Asked about her next book she turned secretive, but let on that there is a bear.
Tomi began writing for real when she was in a job she hated, and she wrote after work, spending longer and longer on doing it. After The Hunger Games which made her cry and made her angry, she felt she must write about black characters.
There was a question about the strange animals in Tomi’s book, which she explained as her ‘repressed desire’ to have a pet. And her kind of lion does not exist in Nigeria.
When authors talk like this about their writing, it makes you want to read their books, and I hope that the fans of one, will now want to check out the other’s book as well. And I know it is wrong to mention this, even to have noticed it, but there were more black people in the audience than usual. It would be wonderful if everyone could see themselves in literature, and come to book events.