I was lucky enough to be born in the awesome, inspiring country of Nigeria.
My father is a Nigerian university professor. My mother a white English author and editor. We lived first in the city of Ibadan, surrounded by my father’s extended family. And then in the megacity of Lagos where my three siblings came along.
I have wanted to be an author from the age of 5. Right through my childhood books were my comfort and escape. When I ran out of books to read I made up stories in my head.
The books I read led to some of my biggest decisions – at 10 I chose to go to boarding school in England – led astray by “Malory Towers”! At 13 my mother and siblings joined me in the UK. We travelled home to Nigeria in the school holidays – and since then I have had one foot (sometimes more, sometimes less) in each country.
I studied English and Commonwealth Literatures at university, and afterwards I travelled – filling notebook after notebook with my scribbles. Then I fell in love with the art of oral storytelling – after being cajoled into telling a Nigerian folktale on a festival stage.
Since then – for the last 20 years – I’ve told stories from the African continent & diaspora to adults and children in schools, festivals & theatres all over the world. Children in the West constantly asked me what it was like growing up on the African continent – they imagined it was full of safari animals and poverty. My first book – Anna Hibiscus – was my reply.
The best-selling “Anna Hibiscus” series is about a girl from a rich (in-many-ways) family growing up in an African megacity –a city inspired by the city I grew up in, Lagos.
“The No.1 Car Spotter” series, which followed Anna, is about a boy from a poor (in-money-only) family living in a village – inspired by my childhood visits to my father’s home village.
My third series “Too Small Tola” is set back in the megacity of Lagos, Nigeria – but this time the heroine is from a poor (in-money-only) family.
I write picture books too. It is perhaps my favourite genre –action, humour, suspense & surprise – all in 500 words!
My first information book – “Africa, Amazing Africa” – is a love letter to my fatherland. My second non-fiction book – “Brilliant Black British History” (due to be published in 2023) – is a celebration of the history of my motherland.
I’ve now written over 20 children’s books – almost all set in Nigeria. You can peep into all my books on the Books page…
Now I live in Wales where I swim in cold seas & stomp along wild footpaths … loving where I am, and also longing and plotting for the day when I can return to the continent of my birth.