Why Malorie Blackman gave up her engineering job to write black-character books for children

Stephen Nartey April 04, 2023
Malorie Blackman/Photo credit: Media Diversified

As a child, all she ever dreamt of becoming someday was an English teacher, however, Malorie Blackman rather found herself following the career path of a computer scientist. Her career began as a systems programmer, but somehow, Malorie emerged as a writer years later when she felt the corporate world was not giving her the fulfillment needed.

There was a burning passion to leave a lasting impact on generations, yet she wasn’t sure what she needed to do to achieve this goal. This purpose however became apparent when she noticed that there were few children’s books that featured black people. ‘Changing the narrative’ became her purpose, according to black heroes foundation.

Born on February 8, 1962, and raised in Bromley, London, her parents were from Barbados and relocated to the United Kingdom during the Windrush generation. Though she published her first book at the age of 28, she is best known for her critically acclaimed Noughts and Crosses series, which has been adapted into a TV series and stage play.

The series explores issues of race, prejudice, and power in a dystopian world where black “Cross” people hold all the positions of power and white “Nought” people are discriminated against, according to famous authors. She gets controversial by introducing an element of impossible love between two different identities. According to the BBC survey, the novel was one of the most read pieces by young readers because of how it treated such sensitive themes.

What makes Malorie unique is her ability to get her readers to appreciate her meanings and get them to think about her themes. She uses short stories, picture books, and novels to stoke the interest of children. She also uses science to highlight themes of ethnicity and related social issues. She has written over 60 children’s books, hoping to offer them an opportunity to learn about black figures.

Her literary pieces have been translated into over 15 languages, from German, Chinese, and French. The literary world is not the only activity that excites Malorie, she also plays computer games, piano and writes poetry during her free time. She has been a strong advocate for gender equality, in 2014, she joined Let Books be Books to campaign to get authors to stop labeling books as “for girls” or “for boys”.

In 2008, Malorie was awarded an OBE for her services to children’s literature, and has also received other numerous awards, including the Eleanor Farjeon Award for distinguished services to children’s literature, and the Children’s Book Award. Blackman’s work has been praised for its thought-provoking themes, strong characters, and engaging storytelling.

She has been a vocal advocate for diversity in literature and has worked to promote literacy and reading among young people. In recent years, Malorie has continued to write and publish books, including the 2020 novel, Crossfire, the latest installment in the Noughts and Crosses series. In addition to her writing, she has also worked as a scriptwriter for television, including episodes of the long-running BBC science fiction series, Doctor Who.

Last Edited by:Annie-Flora Mills Updated: April 4, 2023


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