Day 22 Throwback: Malorie Blackman

“I spent so long, especially as a child and a teen, being told that either I had no voice or nobody wanted to hear my voice that by the time I hit my twenties and I was writing I thought, ‘No’. That’s why it is called Just Sayin’ because I’m going to speak loud and speak my truth.”

-Malorie Blackman, on her memoir, JUST SAYIN’, on the Visionary Arts Foundation site.

I wasn’t surprised to see Malorie Blackman in Stormzy’s “Mel Made Me Do It” video — she is a legend, after all. She published a memoir in 2022, and since the first time this profile was published, two seasons of a television series of her classic Noughts + Crosses aired to much acclaim (streaming in the U.S. on Peacock). At 61, with more than 70 works under her belt (including an episode of Doctor Who — she was the first Black writer to write one), she was named the 2022 winner of the PEN Pintner Prize, given to a U.K writer who, The Bookseller reports, demonstrates an “unflinching, unswerving” gaze on the world, and shows a “fierce intellectual determination … to define the real truth of our lives and our societies”. Judge Daniel Hahn said of Blackman, “Many of her books raise ethical and moral questions, with narrative energy and an uncompromising honesty – usually presenting characters who find themselves in complex situations – challenging young readers to think and to question….A writer of serious commitment to her readers and to the power of stories.”

“Before me on the page was a world of literature that I loved, but it didn’t reciprocate. It didn’t even know I existed. The omission of ‘me’ on the page rendered my life, my existence unimportant. Irrelevant. I was invisible.”

-an excerpt from JUST SAYIN’ featured in Gal-Dem Magazine.

The original post (with updated links) follows below:

Award-winning author Malorie Blackman seems to have done it all and won it all — she’s the recipient of the FCBG Children’s Book Award, Fantastic Fiction Award, Lancashire Children’s Book of the Year, Sheffield Children’s Book of the Year — and those are just some of the awards she’s won for her groundbreaking NOUGHTS & CROSSES series. Set in a fictional dystopia, NOUGHTS & CROSSES is science fiction with action and depth, exploring love, racism, violence and more. The series is complex, offering no easy answers. When describing the inspiration for the title, Blackman said that noughts and crosses is “…one of those games that nobody ever plays after childhood, because nobody ever wins…”

Ms. Blackman’s first book, NOT SO STUPID! was published in 1990; since then she’s written over 50 books for children of all ages, including Pig-Heart Boy which was made into a BAFTA winning serial, Hacker and Whizziwig among others. An accomplished playwright and television writer, Blackman is a graduate of the National Film and Television School, and divides her time between book and script writing. “I can’t remember a time when I didn’t write poems and short stories,” she’s said. “I’ve always been as interested in imaginative flights of fantasy as well as reality.”

Born in London, Ms. Blackman was always an avid reader, and was partly inspired to write by the memory of her own childhood, her times searching the library in vain for ordinary stories with a black central character. “I wanted to show black children just getting on with their lives, having adventures, and solving their dilemmas, like the characters in all the books I read as a child,” she has said. In an Webchat on Mumsnet (link expired), Ms. Blackman spoke more about her love of children’s literature: “As I love strong, challenging stories, I think the best place to find those on a regular basis is in books for children/young adults. I don’t know of any children’s writer who writes on controversial topics merely to be exploitative or gratuitous and I have read books for adults which have turned my stomach, quite frankly. But there’s usually an element of hope in children’s books which appeals to me.”

Malorie Blackman’s latest published work, BOYS DON’T CRY was published in 2010, and described in The Independent as a book that “shows her writing at its best, creating characters and a story which, once read, will not easily go away.”

You’re waiting for the postman – he’s bringing your A level results. University, a career as a journalist – a glittering future lies ahead. But when the doorbell rings it’s your old girlfriend; and she’s carrying a baby. You’re fine to look after it, for an hour or two, while she does some shopping. Then she doesn’t come back and your future suddenly looks very different…

Malorie Blackman on NOUGHTS & CROSSES and racism in the UK.

In conversation on The Guardian podcast, discussing her work and writing from the POV of a teenage father.

For more about Malorie Blackman, visit her website.

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