Acclaimed fantasy author visits campus to give students advice and inspiration


Photo Courtesy of Arts & Lectures

Tomi Adeyemi's next novel is set to release on Dec. 3.

A room of about 200 people had the privilege of sitting down and hearing from fantasy author Tomi Adeyemi on Sept. 26. 


Part of the Arts & Lectures series, the event gave students a chance to learn about Adeyemi’s writing journey, ask questions, receive a copy of her debut novel “Children of Blood and Bone” and get their book signed by the author.


“‘Children of Blood and Bone’ is one of the most exciting works of contemporary fiction I have read,” said Dr. Rebecca Lush, the chair of the Literature and Writing Department, who introduced Adeyemi to the podium. 


In her introduction, Dr. Lush mentioned some accolades that “Children of Blood and Bone” has received, including being on the New York Times Best Seller List for 81 weeks and counting.


After reading a few pages from her book, Adeyemi spent the rest of the night answering questions from students directly. One question was on her writing process.


The author noted that she often struggles with perfectionism. “Every other sentence, I think, ‘I could do that better,’” she said. “We are our own worst enemy.”


For writers to get past that hurdle of doubting the quality of their work, Adeyemi advised simply continuing to write. She said, “If [you] can just get through two pages today, it’s a win.”


That advice resonated with senior Vivi Martinez Mendoza, a Human Development major with a passion for writing. “I really felt that…I write one page and then I just scrap it, the whole thing, the whole idea, because I’m like, it’s horrible, no one’s going to read it.” 


“ I have all those doubts…even though you’re your worst enemy, you’ve got to push yourself to write,” said Martinez Mendoza.


Adeyemi also shared what provided the inspiration for “Children of Blood and Bone.”


Her book has black characters and mythology but in the past she used to create only white characters. According to her, this was because white is the default in Western culture.


However, Adeyemi then studied West African mythology in Brazil, which bolstered her conviction that black people could be the heroes of their own stories.


The Black Lives Matter movement also influenced Adeyemi’s writing. “I thought we were beyond the place where racism could kill you,” she said. “I felt terrified and hopeless.”


She resolved to take that fear and anger and turn it into something constructive: a fantasy book set in a black world with black heroes. 


Adeyemi is enjoying critical acclaim for her novel, but many don’t know that it is actually her second book. Her first, “The Keepers,” was never published. 


While one could say failing to publish your book is the worst thing for an aspiring author, Adeyemi found a silver lining. “[With ‘The Keepers,’] I was teaching myself to write, to revise, to get published.” 


Adeyemi learned from her apparent failure and finally achieved her dream of successfully publishing a book. “The root of success is a person working hard, and not giving up,” she said.


Junior Jake Rowland, a Literature and Writing major, appreciated Adeyemi’s words. “I do like that she added a practical aspect that dreams require work,” he said. “To see somebody who’s achieved some of the dreams that she would like to…it just makes it real.”


After Adeyemi was finished speaking, attendees lined up to meet the author and get their books signed. 


You can keep up with Adeyemi at her website, Look out for the film adaptation of “Children of Blood and Bone” (release date TBA) as well as its upcoming sequel, “Children of Virtue and Vengeance” (release date Dec. 3, 2019).


For information on upcoming events in the Arts & Lectures series, visit