Tomi Adeyemi, born 1 August 1993, a Nigerian-American writer and creative writing coach based in San Diego, California. Tomi is known for her book Children of Blood and Bone, the first in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers. After graduating Harvard University with an honors degree in English literature, Tomi Adeyemi received a fellowship that allowed her to study West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil. When she’s not working on her novels or watching Scandal, she can be found blogging and teaching creative writing.
Tomi Adeyemi’s website has been named one of the 101 best websites for writers by Writer’s Digest.
Tomi Adeyemi doesn’t live in a fantasy world, she just writes compellingly about one.
I’ve been writing since between five and seven. Writing is just the first thing I ever did and I kept doing it, so I’ve been writing for almost my entire life. My freshman year of college, The Hunger Games movie adaptation came out and I was really excited about it. This was maybe 2011. I loved it, but there was a lot of hateful backlash against the black characters in the film. People were like, “Oh, why’d they make all the good characters black?”
Just really, really awful and hateful things. I’m the kind of person who gets motivated by anger, so I was like, “Oh man, I’m going to write a story that’s so good and so black that everyone’s going to have to read it even if you’re racist.” That became my writing mission. The first story that I wrote for that mission did not go anywhere, but it took me about three or four years. I needed it because it taught me everything about writing and it taught me everything about actually how you get a book published. Lots of writers’ first books don’t go anywhere, but this was such a valuable learning experience that I couldn’t have done what I did with this book without that book.
I learned that book wasn’t going anywhere, but I also learned I didn’t want it to go anywhere because I saw what was out there and I knew I could do better. Then I was really inspired after reading books like Shadowshaper by José Older and An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir.
This was on the tail-end of me still on my book one journey, so maybe between three and four years of book one, and I was discovering fantasy is way to teach people but not in a preachy way — just in the way you can get something across through a character’s experience that helps explain something that feels like it can’t be explained in a universal way. I don’t know if that’s too many vague words. I got that from both of those books and I was excited and like, “I want to write something big!”
There’s so much talk of representation in politics and entertainment — it’s everywhere — but I didn’t realize representation was important until really my senior year of high school. The reason was that every character I wrote in the stories I was just writing in my free time were white or biracial. It was because I never saw myself. Even me, I didn’t think I could write myself into a story, and I realized that leads to so many self-esteem issues that would really just be solved if people saw themselves. On the same token, seeing a black God and a black Goddess — it’s not only like, “Wow, this is so cool and different.” When you see blackness in a sacred way, that means something. That makes you feel a certain way, whether you’re black or not. I knew I wanted to do something with it; I just didn’t have the story idea.
Children of Blood and Bone By Tomi Adeyemi
Written in response to genre fiction where the characters were always white, Tomi’s Children of Blood and Bone has already drawn comparisons with everything from Game of Thrones to Black Panther and has secured a major motion picture deal. Your chance to read the next big blockbuster success before it hits the big screen.
Tomi Adeyemi’s debut novel is the start of what promises to be an epic, addictive new series. The Children of Blood and Bone is influenced by Adeyemi’s West African heritage, and in it she bends religious deities (the Orïsha) and a diverse landscape into a refreshing new take on fantasy.
“The deadline I gave myself for Children of Blood and Bone, when I was just starting out, was for this competition I wanted to get into because they had a good track record for getting people representation and even sometimes book deals. But that meant I had to write my book in one month and then I had to revise it in another month and submit it to the competition. And then I got into the competition but then that was another two months of revising; I signed with my agents and then that was another three months of revising. We submitted the book and that was pretty crazy. I ended up with Macmillan. And then we’ve been revising since April … It was like 18 straight months of really intense writing and revising. I’m still a little delirious. It’s been aggressive and it’s been accelerated, but it’s also been so much work. A lot of people don’t realize writing is really just rewriting. The final book is probably somewhere between draft 30 and draft 40. It’s been through a lot. I’m so happy with it, but I’m also so ready to sleep for two straight weeks.”
“For me, I love the beginning stages of world-building. I love when it’s pure inspiration, which is how I like to approach it. Like I said with this book, I’ve been working on it straight for 18 months. I guess 19 months if I think about the month before I started writing, where I was in this world-building stage. Two months of those were inspiration and then the other 17 months was purely rewriting to make it all fit. So I really enjoy that first month or two when you really are just creating a world from scratch. Then I think you do everything you want to do. I like to stretch my imagination to the limit and be like, “Oh, you know what would be really cool? Giant lions!” Then you go from there, like, “I want them to wear these headdresses” and stuff. For me, it’s all the fun stuff, all the Pinterest board. Once I had my initial ideas down, then I do like “Step One,” or I guess “Version 1.0” of putting real-world logic behind it. It’s like, “If I want my character to ride a lion, then it would make sense to have other fantasy jungle cats — which means there’s probably a fantasy cheetah, a fantasy panther, a this and a that.” Then you think about our real world, how you have methods of transportation but then you also have nicer methods of transportation — so which of these cats is like having a Ferrari, which part of society has that? At first it’s all fun and then it’s adding real-world parallels to it.”
The Children of Blood and Bone is told from multiple points of view, as Inan and Amari, children of the iron-fisted king, and Zélie and Tzain, siblings who have suffered greatly under the king’s regime, find themselves on a dark, magic-filled quest for power.
Their journey is accompanied by violence and betrayal, but friendship and even star-crossed love also play a part. Enriched with themes that resonate in today’s social and political landscape, The Children of Blood and Bone takes on injustice, discrimination, and a struggle for change.
The action and danger ramp up with each chapter, and I found myself racing through the final pages, holding my breath right up to the cliffhanger ending.
With five starred reviews, Tomi Adeyemi’s West African-inspired fantasy debut, and instant #1 New York Times Bestseller, conjures a world of magic and danger, perfect for fans of Leigh Bardugo and Sabaa Tahir.
They killed my mother.
They took our magic.
They tried to bury us.
Now we rise.
Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zélie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.
But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.
Now Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.
Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers and her growing feelings for an enemy.
“A phenomenon.” — Entertainment Weekly
“The epic I’ve been waiting for.” — New York Times-bestselling author Marie Lu
“You will be changed. You will be ready to rise up and reclaim your own magic!” — New York Times-bestselling author Dhonielle Clayton
“The next big thing in literature and film.” — Ebony
“One of the biggest young adult fiction debut book deals of theyear.” — Teen Vogue
“Book one in the Orïsha Legacy trilogy, Adeyemi’s devastating debut is a brutal, beautiful tale of revolution, faith, and star-crossed love.” — Publishers Weekly, starred review
“Well-drawn characters, an intense plot, and deft writing make this a strong story. That it is also a timely study on race, colorism, power, and injustice makes it great. Powerful, captivating, and raw?Adeyemi is a talent to watch. Exceptional.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“A remarkable achievement.” — Campus Lately
“In terms of people who want to be writers, I wish more people knew how much work it was. Every first draft sucks, so when you have your favorite novel and you’re like, “Wow, this is a masterpiece,” and then you write your first draft and you’re like, “This is really bad,” and then you’re like “I can’t do this because this is nowhere close.” When in reality, the book you loved so much started out just as crappy. It’s just been rewritten 100 times. That’s how you actually get to the place where you’re like, “This is so shiny and beautiful.”
- Tomi Adeyemi Biography and Profile (Tomi Adeyemi / Goodreadbiography / Entertainment Weekly)