‘Changing Your Mind Is Underrated.’ Bomi Fagbemi’s First Draft

Author of ‘The Shadow of Saint-Domingue’, Bomi Fagbemi, finds it difficult to separate good writing from a good story: ‘I think a good story can carry not-so-good writing (see Harry Potter), but good writing makes a story great.’

First Draft is our interview column, featuring authors and other prominent figures on books, reading, and writing.

Our questions are italicized.

Editor’s note: This first draft is available in print in our latest issue on African Revolutions and Revolutionaries. Buy the issue here.

What books or kinds of books did you read growing up?

It’s really difficult to relegate books to my childhood. Growing up, I read so many books that I would still read today. I would stay up late and sit in the bathroom to read so no one would know I was awake.

I was really reading anything I could get my hands on. I even binge read the whole Bible. I think I started off with a bunch of fantasy books—Enid Blyton, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, David Gemmel, historical fiction based on Greek mythology. I don’t think I’ve experienced world-building on the scale of the Malazan Book of the Fallen series by Steven Erikson anywhere else. The Horrible Histories series by Terry Deary was great, too, and probably informs about 90 per cent of my current knowledge about the Aztecs and Mayans. Marvel comics were big for me also because they were rare imports and then manga became more accessible so I read Dragon Ball (Not Z) and Fullmetal Alchemist. I’m still a huge fan of animation...

This first draft is available online to paying subscribers only. To read the full essay, start a subscription from $1.99 / month (students) and $5.99 / month (everyone else) here