Who would have thought a day would come when we would have a fantasy novel set in West Africa with heroes and heroines bearing Yoruba names with Yoruba ancestry?
Tomi Adeyemi, 23 year old Nigerian-American writer is set to make our dreams come true with her debut novel Children of Blood and Bone, which although yet to be published, is already headed for the big screen.
After struggling to publish a book for a period of five years without desired results, Adeyemi went on to take writing classes at Harvard University and attended a lot of writing workshops to decipher what she wasn’t doing right.
By applying all she had learnt, she was able to finish the first draft of a novel, something she hadn’t been able to do in five years. However, that didn’t land her the publishing deal she dreamt of. Nevertheless, by employing the knowledge she had acquired and with some more hardwork, she was able to finish the draft of her debut novel, edit and send it out to publishing houses and literary agents.
The feedback has been mind-blowing.
While Fox 2000 obtained screen rights for the book, she landed a seven-figure deal with Macmillan Publishing. These have been described as “one of the biggest Young Adult debut novel publishing deals ever.”
Why this story line? On her blog she writes:
“I want a little Black girl to pick up my book one day and see herself as the star,” Adeyemi wrote on her blog. “I want her to know that she’s beautiful and she matters and she can have a crazy, magical adventure even if an ignorant part of the world tells her she can never be Hermione Granger.”
The book, a first of a three part series, tells of a girl Zélie Adebola, who must fight against the monarchy to bring back magic to her people.
In her words, here is a synopsis of the novel as described on her blog;
With magic, Zélie’s family could stand against the royal guard.
Her people wouldn’t live in fear.
Her mom wouldn’t have hanged from that tree.
Ten years after the raid that killed her mother and took magic away forever, Zélie Adebola has one chance to bring magic back. To do so, she must stand against a society built on the dark underbelly of slavery and corruption.
Danger lurks in this west-African inspired world, where lionnaires roam and beautiful villages built over oceans and forged in iron stand. But the biggest danger of all lies in the crown prince, who’s hell-bent on erasing magic for good.
Adeyemi is a creative writing coach based in San Diego U.S. and a graduate of Harvard University with a honors degree in English literature. She also studied West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil.
Asides from writing works that young black girls who rarely find themselves in the pages of fantasy reads and movies on our big screens, Adeyemi seeks to inspire other writers not only through her coaching programme but also through online webinars and courses which she shares with aspiring writers through her blog; www.tomiadeyemi.com
Adeyemi, is not only an emerging voice but an important voice for African literature in telling a varied story of Africa to the world. She joins the likes of Chimamanda Adichie and Chinua Achebe who have had their novels Half of a Yellow Sun and Things Fall Apart adapted for screen. Adichie’s Americannah is in the works of hitting the big screen as well.
Her book is much awaited and so is the movie adaptation of the novel. African literature is definitely gaining global recognition and a wider audience, thanks to these women who are tirelessly ensuring that the world has as many varied tales of Africa as is possible.