Saturday, 2 March 2013

Author Interview: Na'ima B Robert

Really pleased to present an interview with Na'ima B Robert, author of the excellent Black Sheep, one of my 3 favourite contemporaries of the year to date! 

1: When you close your eyes and imagine your readers, who do you see?

Such a diverse group, I honestly don't know! Definitely kids or adults who are looking for something slightly different or want to learn about a different segment of society. 

 2. I loved both narrators of Black Sheep - was it difficult to write characters with two such different voices?

No, not at all because they were so distinct from each other. In terms of accent, exposure, education and background, Dwayne and Misha come from totally different sides of the tracks. Although I must say, I really enjoyed talking to myself in Dwayne's voice and that of his inner voice - good fun! 

3. One of the strongest parts of Black Sheep for me was the portrayal of Islam. How big a part does religion play in your own life?

Well, like Dwayne, I chose to convert to Islam when I was at university and I know loads of people like him and Misha who have become Muslim - that part was the easiest to write because I know about it from the inside, whereas the gang life was something I had to research and check with others. 

4. As well as the two excellent narrators, there were lots of other great characters in Black Sheep - with one of my favourites being a particular teacher who showed faith in Dwayne. Who was the most memorable teacher you were taught by?

Definitely my O Level English teacher, Ms Nyandoro. She was bold, witty, fearless and never accepted less than my best work. Later, she became a friend and someone we all credit with shaping us as young women.

5. There have been lots of outstanding screen adaptations of YA books over the last few years - would you like to see Black Sheep filmed? If so, any thoughts on who you could see playing Dwayne and Misha?

I think Black Sheep would make a good film but I might be too chicken to watch it! I don't know any young actors out there so, if age wasn't an issue, I would say Ashley Walters as Dwayne, and Thandi Newton as Misha. Otherwise, I think the two leads from Kidulthood would do well.

6. If you could ask any author any question, what would you ask and who would you ask it to?

I would ask Amy Tan how she gets some amazing historical detail into her novels like The Joy Luck Club, one of my favourites.

7. Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what was the soundtrack to Black Sheep?

No, I don't listen to music but I did watch Bullet Boy about 4 times! I actually watched more movies and documentaries for this book than I ever have before - even trailers helped! 

8. What are you reading at the moment?
My Masters course notes! Although I have just finished Peacock Spring by Rummer Godden which I absolutely loved! 

9. What's next for Na'ima B Robert?

I am working on a Muslim love story at the moment, which should be out later this year if all goes well. That, and running 2 magazines and studying for my Masters :)  

Best of luck with all of that, Na'ima! I'm looking forward to reading your next book.

You can find Na'ima on Twitter, and on her website

1 comment:

  1. You always give such interesting interview questions! This one is really interesting and I'll be looking out for something by the author. Thanks for sharing!