Bernardine Evaristo

Author of:

Author Interview with Bernardine Evaristo, Author of "Blonde Roots"
Created By: BookBundlz

About You:
1. If you could have coffee with any 3 authors, living or dead, who would they be?

Mr Charles Dickens (for storytelling tips),  Mr Langston Hughes (for stories about his life) and Mr Bill Shakespeare (for understanding human psychology and behaviour).

2. If you could only take one book, food item and drink with you to a deserted island what would they be?

The Encyclopedia Britannica, an indecently large chocolate cake and a magnum of Cristal champagne. Cheers!

3. What are your secret indulgences?

My indulgences are not for me to divulge....(A tongue twister, try saying it quickly)

4. What about you would surprise your readers?

That I'm addicted to watching the telly series '24' in spite of how predictable, repetitive, politically unsound and generally absurd it is. P.S. Don't tell anyone! 

5. What is your perfect day as an author?

1/ Coffee 2/Cycle in the Spring sunshine to the gym 3/ Writing 4/ Lunch 5/ Siesta 6/ Writing 7/ Social 8/ Sleep.

6. If you could be any fictional character who would it be?

It would have to be God, in a book called the Bible...

7. What are the book(s) you are reading now?
I'm judging the Orange Prize New Writers' Award this year so I'm ploughing through 36 first novels, none of which I can mention yet. 

8. What was your favorite book as a teenager, and why?

The Kon-Tiki Expedition by Thor Heyerdal, a non-fiction account of his Pacific journey in 1947 by balsa raft from South America to Polynesia, some 8000 km. He proved the theory that the ancient Incans could have made this journey. The book whetted my appetite for adventure and showed me that ambitions could be realised against all the odds.

9. (Aside from your own) What book(s) have you read that you think are perfect for book clubs?

On Black Sister's Street by Chika Unigwe - an excellent new novel about African women who end up in the sex trade in Belgium. 

About Your Book:
10. Where did the inspiration for your book come from?

I wanted to write about the transatlantic slave trade, which is such an important part of international history of the past 500 years. But I wanted to find a way to write it afresh, which is why in my world Africans enslave Europeans.

11. They say every book written is the author telling a personal philosophy. What personal philosophy are you trying to get across?

I'm not sure I can reduce my novel to a particular philosophy. One of the themes in the book is the way in which people in power exploit those who are not, and then develop an ideology (in this case racism) to support their beliefs.

12. Writers are often surprised by something that happens in their book. Perhaps a character says or does something you did not think they would, or something you thought would only be a couple of paragraphs turns into 10 pages. What surprised you about your book?

I was surprised that the voice I found for Doris' African slave master, Bwana, became that of an Eighteenth Century apologist for the slave trade. Bwana looks African but in the manner in which he speaks, he clearly is not. I don't know how that came about. The magic of writing. 

About Your Writing Process:
13. What is your writing process like?

There's no special formula. Each book requires a different approach and discipline. Most of my books are heavily researched but my research methodology varies. I've written a book in 18 blink-and-you'll-miss-them-months and another book took 5 painstaking, nail-biting years to complete.  But even the books that are written faster are the result of many years of gestation. 

14. What gets you in the mood to write?

I don't need to be in the mood. It's my job. I just do it. Years ago I needed be drinking whisky and chain smoking into the early hours before I hit the zone to write. I was a poet at that time. Well, we all know about poets and drink....

15. What advice would you give to aspiring authors?

Don't just dream it, do it. Get informed feedback on your writing when you've done it. Join a workshop or course, but only if that feels right for you. Be self-motivated, self-disciplined and open to learning your craft. Read excellent fiction, a lot and widely. (Garbage in, garbage out, as they say.) Be positive and don't ever, ever give up. 

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