‘Beginnings are Easier Than Endings.’ Bim Adewunmi’s First Draft

Producer on This American Life and co-host of Thirst Aid Kit, Bim Adewunmi, says podcasts are not as easy to produce as they may sound: ‘that covers everything: the characters, the emotional stakes and heft of the stories, the scoring choices, the pacing of the storytelling, the precision of the mixing... all of it. No detail too small.’

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

Our questions are italicized.

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

I was really lucky: I had big eyes and indulgent parents. My dad told me books could be friends and I really took that to heart. He always gave us two types of pocket money: general pin money and book money. Like any good child of the Commonwealth, I bought and swallowed lots of Enid Blyton—I read every age-appropriate series of hers I could get my hands on. I also loved reading Nigerian folktales and my dad loved explaining their deeper origins to me. The Pacesetter series—what we might now call YA—was one of my reading touchstones. I remember being absolutely wrecked by Black Beauty by Anna Sewell.

I spent a lot of my book money on comics: Archie, lots of DC and Marvel (Ghost Rider was IT), and also Ikebe Super. I went to Federal Girls Government College, Sagamu in the 90s and in hindsight, I lucked out with the English literature curriculum: so many of the assigned books at school were just incredible: Chukwuemeka Ike’s The Bottled LeopardCyprian Ekwensi’s The Passport of Mallam Ilia, Buchi Emecheta’s The Joys of Motherhood stand out. I learned how to read in Yoruba, too, and even though I mostly hated that class, I still remember Chief TAA Ládélé’s Jẹ́ N Lò’gbà a Tèmi and Eru O B’odo. A lesson in the value of perseverance, I suppose. I also remember illicit copies of Hints magazine going around class during evening prep—if they survived to the end of term, they’d be absolutely tattered...

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