To celebrate the recent release of her novel Lionheart Girl, we asked author Yaba Badoe to let readers in on a little bit of information about her, by taking part in our 'seven things' series. Here's what she had to reveal...
1. The best way to give my readers an insight into who I am is to reveal a few of my quirks: I love eating cold Ambrosia rice pudding out of the tin.
2. My favourite colour is turquoise.
3. I’m one of life’s perpetual pedestrians because although I learnt how to roller skate as a child, I’ve never mastered the art of riding a bicycle or driving a car.
4. I discovered my love of reading at a prep school in the depths of the English countryside. Cold, suffering from chilblains, I used to hug a radiator while I devoured stories from a huge volume of Grimms’ Fairy Tales. Stories, even disturbing ones, have always been a comfort to me.
I think it was my grandmother who first instilled a love of folktales in me. Her stories of Ananse the spider-man and trickster, were an education in how the mighty can be defeated by ingenuity – a valuable lesson for a girl to absorb!
5. Until recently, I made a living producing and directing documentaries for British television. I started out as a General Trainee with the BBC and made films for the BBC, ITV, and Channel 4. Filmmaking gave me an opportunity to travel to fascinating locations: from Mongolia to Vietnam, Spanish Town to Cape Town. Many of the places I’ve relished end up in my novels.
6. Perhaps the most extraordinary experience of my life, an adventure which seeped into my new YA novel, Lionheart Girl, is an encounter I had with a community of women condemned to live as witches in the town of Gambaga in northern Ghana.
I was working as a freelance reporter for the BBC African Service at the time. As soon as I started interviewing the women at the witches’ camp, the trajectory of my life changed. It was as if my understanding of anthropology, feminism and journalism coalesced, and I was where I was supposed to be, listening to the stories of women forced to live in exile from their families. If they dared return to their villages they’d have been lynched because it was believed that they’d caused death and destruction.
It took me a while to make sense of their stories and even longer to complete a documentary film about them. However, with the support of feminists in Ghana and elsewhere, we did it. You can watch my film, The Witches of Gambaga, at www.yababadoe.com.
7. I’m completely in awe of the BBC’s Natural History Unit and Sir David Attenborough. Thanks to their films I’ve grown up engrossed in the remarkable beauty and interconnectedness of the natural world.
We must be the only generation of human-animal that’s been fortunate enough to see so much of what was previously unseen: the nuzzling intimacy of lions, the speed of cheetahs, the wonder of coral reefs and rain forests. To marvel at such a world and then contemplate its destruction, is the reason why I include as much of it as possible in my writing.
Lionheart Girl by Yaba Badoe is out now in hardback (£12.99, Zephyr).
MORE FROM BOOKS: Five things I'd like my readers to know about me, by RA Williams
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