Unfortunately, this is the last in a series of author interviews for #RamadanReadathon, dedicated to shining a spotlight on new and upcoming releases from debut and established writers. But I’m so excited to welcome Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé on the blog today to talk about her debut novel Ace Of Spades which will be published by Usborne in 2020!
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé is a writer from South London who has dreamt of writing books about black kids saving (or destroying) the world all her life. She is an avid tea drinker, and a lover of thrillers and mystery’s. She currently studies English, Chinese and Anthropology in the Scottish Highlands.
Her debut novel Ace Of Spades will be published by Usborne in the UK (2020) with a second untitled novel – also published by Usborne – to follow. You can follow her on Twitter @faridahlikestea.
ABOUT ACE OF SPADES
17-year-old Devon and Chiamaka are rivals at Niveus Private Academy, but when anonymous texter ‘Aces’ starts spreading their secrets, they are forced to team up and uncover their identity. However, what they find extends past a high school game of mean girls as Devon and Chiamaka find themselves at the centre of a disturbing game.
Salaam, Faridah! Thank you so much for joining us! To begin with, could you quickly introduce yourself and your debut novel Ace Of Spades? How would you describe the book in comps?
FA: Thank you for having me! My name is Faridah. I live in the north of Scotland but I’m originally from London and I’m currently a student studying Anthropology and English Lit. Ace Of Spades is out next summer and it’s about the only black students at a private high school and how, in their senior year, weird things start happening, starting with a text message sent to everyone at the school detailing one of the main character’s biggest secrets. The comp titles for this are Get Out meets Gossip Girl meets One Of Us Is Lying!
If your protagonists – Devon and Chiamaka – had to introduce themselves with three interesting facts, what would they be?
FA: So Devon’s three facts would be that he’s a pianist, his dream is to live in New York and attend Juilliard and the third fact would be that he despises stuck up people. Chiamaka, on the other hand, is quite different from Devon. Her three facts would be that she wants to be a doctor, loves watching rom-coms and Marvel movies (she definitely would have cried during Endgame) and being liked and respected is the most important thing to her.
What are these characters currently listening to?
FA: Devon is currently listening to some old school R&B and crying, and I imagine Chiamaka is listening to dramatic opera music and also crying.
What are the most prominent themes within the novel, and why was it important for you to tell this story?
FA: Some of the themes you can find in Ace Of Spades are institutional racism, classism and how it affects both white people and people of colour, homophobia in the black community and microaggressions. I thought it was important to tell this story as I’ve always loved mysteries/thrillers but never really got to see any with a black protagonist doing the solving. I also love politics; I love watching race-related debates, studying society, understanding why and how things happen, and I wanted to create a story where the puzzle was more than just finding ‘who done it’. I wanted to write something allegorical that readers could look back on and try to unpack.
What inspires you to write, and what are your favourite books written by Black and/or Muslim authors?
FA: I’ve actually always loved storytelling. It stems from my mum’s bedtime stories about Nigerian Folklore. I loved learning about my culture through scary stories about Nigerian witches and mythological creatures. Later, what inspired me was people like Oscar Wilde who wrote these bizarre hilarious stories and I wanted to leave my readers both dying of laughter and fear.
So one of my favourite stories of all time is called Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin. It’s a story about a guy who comes to Paris and falls in love but it’s a complicated, toxic love and I just adored the writing and how messy everyone was.
And finally, what are your most anticipated releases for 2020? Apart from your own, which other books should we be excited about?
FA: I am SO stoked for three releases in particular. The first one is The Henna Wars by Adiba Jaigirdar, which is a YA rom-com about a Bengali girl named Nishat who enters a business competition with her henna business and it is so good and I cannot wait for readers to get to read it too!
Another book I am so excited for is called Deathless by Namina Forna – I was blessed enough to have read this already. It is a YA Fantasy about a world where when girls turn 16 they have to go through a purity ritual where they are cut and it is revealed whether they are pure or not through the colour of their blood. Red is human, red is pure. Gold is demonic, gold is impure. Our protagonist bleeds Gold and is killed – but then she wakes up. It is a beautiful story about friendship and strength and I am so excited for it.
The last 2020 release I am so excited for is A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Roseanne Brown and it is a YA Fantasy about a princess who’s told that her future husband must die and a boy who is tasked with killing the princess in order to free his sister – I haven’t yet gotten to read this book but it sounds amazing. I can’t for these stories. 2020 is going to be an amazing year!
All of these sound incredible – I’ve noted and added them to my TBR! Thank you so much for joining us, Faridah, and for taking the time to answer these questions!