Introducing… Malorie Blackman

Introducing… Malorie Blackman

“What strikes me as a brilliant book is a book that I totally get lost in when I’m reading it. I absolutely believe in the characters. I feel as they feel. So, when they’re hurting, I’m hurting. When they’re happy, I’m happy. And I just get lost in it. So, for me, when I’m writing, I pay an awful lot of attention to my characters and try to make sure I really get to know my characters before I even start writing so they come across as real people. Hopefully when people are reading it, whenever my characters are going through something really traumatic, they think, “Oh, my god, what’s going to happen next?”

– The Guardian interview with three young readers in June 2013

If this brief description is the recipe of a brilliant book, children’s and young adult novelist Malorie Blackman has proven to master the formula of realism and empathy over the course of her career spanning 28 years. A child of Barbadian parents, the London-born writer worked as a systems programmer, catering assistant, and volunteer reading helper before establishing herself in writing. Blackman ended up not far from her childhood dream to be an English teacher – now one of Britain’s most beloved writers, having written over sixty books, a handful of television scripts, and a stage play.

“I hadn’t fully realized just how powerful words could be before this. Whoever came up with the saying ‘sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me’ was talking out of his or her armpit.”

– Malorie Blackman, Noughts & Crosses

Once saying, “I’m not representative of anything. I’m just Malorie Blackman – a black woman writer,” Blackman did not directly name the ethnicities of her characters or explicitly delve into matters of race and racism until she penned the critically acclaimed and widely popular Noughts & Crosses novel series which presents an alternate history in which Africans have a technological and organisational advantage over Europeans in 21st century Britain. At her career’s peak, Blackman experienced an onslaught of racist criticism over her call for greater diversity in literature, asserting in response that a lot of racist sentiments come from ignorance which can combatted through broadened cultural exposure and representation. “I tackle racism by showing black people doing everyday worthwhile things,” she’s said. “Vicky’s dad works in a bank (Hacker), Elaine’s dad is a computing manager (Elaine, You’re a Brat!), Bean’s dad is an inventor (Operation Gadgetman) – no big deal, now let’s get on with the story.”

“She is hugely prolific… with an inexhaustible imagination providing strong, ingenious plots for any sub-teen … Against an everyday background, her characters empower young readers to achieve what in reality they never could – solve the mystery, be smarter than the police, see the future and return.”

– Books For Keeps

Among her many honors, Blackman was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 2008 and was named the new Children’s Laureate from 2013 to 2015. Many of her works have gone on to be adapted for the stage and the screen, including Pig-Heart Boy which won a BAFTA for Best Drama in 2000 and Noughts & Crosses, retitled Black & White, by the Royal Shakespeare Company in 2008.

With a career such as hers, Blackman could run out of splendid ideas to entertain and educate readers of all ages for many years to come. Check out some of her titles below.

 

Selected Published works

Young Adult Novels

Not So Stupid!: Incredible Short Stories
Trust Me, Livewire
Words Last Forever, Mammoth
The Noughts & Crosses series:
Noughts & Crosses
An Eye for an Eye
Knife Edge, Doubleday
Checkmate, Doubleday
Double Cross
The Stuff of Nightmares
Boys Don’t Cry
Unheard Voices: An Anthology of Stories and Poems to Commemorate the Bicentenary Anniversary of the Abolition of the Slave Trade (editor)
Noble Conflict

 

Children’s Novels

Hacker
Operation Gadgetman!
Jack Sweettooth the 73rd
The Space Stowaway
Whizziwig
Thief!
A.N.T.I.D.O.T.E
Pig Heart Boy
Animal Avengers
Dangerous Reality
Don’t Be Afraid
Forbidden Game
Hostage
Tell Me No Lies
Whizziwig Returns
Dead Gorgeous
Cloud Busting
The Deadly Dare Mysteries
Whizziwig and Whizziwig Returns
Doctor Who: The Ripple Effect

 

 

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