Tomi Adeyemi has been making waves in the genre world for years. The bestselling author of the Legacy of Orisha series received high praise for her first book Children of Blood and Bone. She has won Hugo awards, Andre Norton awards, and her books are on their way to becoming a movie series via Lucasfilm. Now Tomi Adeyemi has made the Time list of the 100 most influential people in 2020. Her entry contains is lovingly written by actor John Boyega (who also uses the opportunity to campaign for a role in the upcoming movies). Adeyemi is a brilliant writer and one of the pioneers of African Futurism alongside her contemporaries N.K. Jemisin and Nnedi Okorafor. Let’s take a look at the life and work of Tomi Adeyemi in 2020.
Photo by Larry D. Moore via Wikimedia Commons.
Celebrating Yoruba and Black Lives In Children of Blood and Bone
Tomi Adeyemi is a Nigerian-American who grew up in Chicago never speaking her mother tongue. She graduated from Harvard with honors in English Writing, and went on to study West African mythology. Adeyemi has worked in film production (handy for her upcoming adaptation process) and as a creative writing coach. She also runs a writing masterclass called The Writer’s Roadmap for aspiring authors.
Adeyemi drew inspiration for her bestselling book from a trip to Brazil. She says that she was “in a gift shop and the African gods and goddesses were depicted in such a beautiful and sacred way … it really made me think about all the beautiful images we never see featuring black people”.
Image via the Children of Blood and Bone Wiki
Children of Blood and Bone was written as a love letter to Adeyemi’s Nigerian heritage. It focuses on the mythology of the orisha, who are like demigods in Yoruba – an ancient African religion. The series focuses on a young girl who struggles against the government to restore magic to her people. An official synopsis tells us the following about Children of Blood and Bone.
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.
Image via MacMillan Publishing
Tomi Adeyemi Is Crossing Age and Genre Lines With Her Work
In a powerful essay written in 2015, Tomi Adeyemi outlines the reasons why she writes. In it she talks about the need to see more people like herself on page and screen. She responds to the outrage that fans had over certain characters being depicted as black (see: Rue in The Hunger Games movies). Adeyemi also writes eloquently about police brutality, and the endless murders of people of color. This essay was penned five years ago, but it could have been written yesterday. But Adeyemi persists in the hope that she can get through to people with her books.
“Because when you have a good story, it doesn’t matter who the story is about. If you have a good story, there will be people who are dying to read it and studios that are dying to produce it. Any person who doesn’t want to read or see a story with characters who are different from them will have to get over it or miss out on the story of a lifetime. So that is why I write. The dream is the same, but the purpose is different. It isn’t fame or success; it is a burning passion to tell a story about someone who is different and to force readers to fall in love with what is different from them.”
Tomi Adeyemi On The Time List Of Most Influential People
Image via the Author
Tomi Adeyemi has a lot of amazing (and some questionable) company on the list of Time 100 most influential people for 2020. She is joined by genre actor Michael B. Jordan; and other powerful black women like activist Angela Davis, Micaela Coel, Jennifer Hudson, Gabrielle Union, and Vice-Presidential nominee Kamala Harris.
In his write-up for the author, actor John Boyega praised Adeyemi for bringing characters to the page that represent young black people. He gives thanks for her creating new heroes for his kids to look up to.
“Tomi is the god of ideas. She’s inspiring a lot of young people to write. She creates the very world that we as actors get to play in. And the big-screen adaptation will hire a lot of people and bring more representation to our industry—all that comes directly from Tomi’s imagination. She is going to be very powerful when it comes to bringing stories and ideas to the forefront.”
You can check out the rest of the Time 100 Most Influential People for 2020 online. Children of Blood and Bone and the sequel Children of Virtue and Vengeance are out now. The third book does not yet have a title or a release date, but we look forward to seeing more work from Tomi Adeyemi in the future.
Emily O'Donnell is a writer and photographer with roots in some of the earliest online fandoms. She cut her genre teeth on the Wizard of Oz books at the tender age of 6 years old, and was reading epic adult fantasy novels by the age of 10. Decades later, she still consumes genre fiction like there is no tomorrow. She is delighted to be living through the golden age of sci-fi and fantasy popularity. She is unashamed of the amount of fanfiction that still lingers online under her name.