“I really wanted to write the book that I wish I’d had at 15”: A conversation with Danielle Jawando

And the Stars Were Burning Brightly by Danielle Jawando is an emotionally rich story about mental health. We follow 15-year-old Nathan, who is looking for answers in the aftermath of his brother Al’s suicide with Al’s former classmate Megan. I interviewed Danielle, who was one of my undergraduate tutors, about her debut novel. We discussed mental health, the need for Northern representation and the impact of covid on both And the Stars Were Burning Brightly and her latest novel.

Finding Myself in a Teenager: Empress & Aniya by Candice Carty-Williams

If Queenie is the black Bridget Jones, then Empress & Aniya is the black Freaky Friday. Friendship and black girl magic permeate these pages, shaped by Candice Carty-Williams’ deep understanding of the nuances that set apart the haves from the have-nots. Having grown up in an area of relative poverty, Empress’ life really struck a chord with me. I got her. I knew what it was like. This truly is a book I wish I had when growing up and learning how to navigate my friendships and my blackness in a world not made for me.

Friendship, Womanhood, and Identity in Nikki May’s WAHALA

Centring around the lives of three mixed-race race women—Ronke, Boo, and Simi—as they navigate their challenging 30s, Nikki May’s debut novel WAHALA considers womanhood and the mixed-race experience. In its tale of these three women, WAHALA is a riveting exploration of friendship, belonging, and identity that will have you drinking from its palm until the very last page.

5 Fun Facts with Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

A blend of Queenie and The Secret Lives of Baba Segi’s Wives with a healthy spoonful of Bridget Jones’s Diary, Yinka, Where Is Your Huzband? will make you laugh as you cheer for a loveable heroine looking for love, and herself, between her two cultures. From the blog post that inspired her to Yinka’s abiding love for her local chicken shop, Lizzie Damilola Blackburn gives us five fun facts about one of the first Black British romantic comedies.