Tomi Adeyemi

Tomi Adeyemi (born August 1, 1993) is a Nigerian-American novelist and creative writing coach. She is known for her book Children of Blood and Bone, the first in the Legacy of Orïsha trilogy published by Henry Holt Books for Young Readers,[1] which won the 2018 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy[2] and is a finalist for the 2019 Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.[3]

Tomi Adeyemi
Adeyemi at the 2018 Texas Book Festival
Adeyemi at the 2018 Texas Book Festival
Born (1993-08-01) August 1, 1993 (age 26)
United States
ResidenceSan Diego, California, United States
NationalityNigerian American
Alma materHarvard University
Notable worksChildren of Blood and Bone
Notable awardsAndre Norton Award (2018)

Early lifeEdit

Tomi Adeyemi was born on August 1st, 1993[4][5] in the United States to parents who emigrated from Nigeria, and struggled financially when Adeyemi was a child. Her father was a physician in Nigeria but found employment as a taxi driver while he waited to transfer his qualifications. Adeyemi's mother worked as a cleaning woman. Adeyemi grew up in Chicago, not being exposed to her Nigerian heritage, her parents decided not to teach her or her siblings their native tongue. She would later embrace her heritage as an adult, explaining, "I didn't think too much of it and I think that is the kind of an experience of the first generation. You're just trying to fit in. You don't realize how cool your culture is until you get out of that phase of trying to fit in." She would later describe one of her novels as a love letter to her culture.[5]

Adeyemi wrote her first story when she was five years old, relating, "I loved myself so much I gave myself a twin named Tomi. Everything started out fine. But then I didn't write another black character until I was 18. I look at that gap, and just the thought of me sitting alone in my room reinforcing the lies the world told us pisses me off."[6]

Adeyemi graduated from Hinsdale Central High School in Hinsdale, Illinois in 2011.[7] Tomi was qualified into the Hinsdale Central High School Foundation's Young Scholar Program in 2008 and went on to win their "Young Scholars" scholarship in 2010-2011.[8] During her senior year, Tomi also received the Rani Sharma scholarship.[9] She went on to graduate from Harvard University with an honors degree in English Literature,[10] then studied West African mythology and culture in Salvador, Brazil, on a fellowship.[11]


Adeyemi, top left, with other fantasy authors at a panel discussion at the 2017 New York Comic Con

After Adeyemi moved to California, she worked at a Los Angeles film production company. When she decided to reduce her hours there to write a book, her parents, who had uprooted their lives in Nigeria to give her a better life, were not entirely accepting of this idea. Adeyemi says, "I'm first-generation Nigerian so I came out of my mother's womb and I was supposed to be a doctor, a lawyer or engineer, and I was like 'oh hey, I'm quitting my very well-paying job at a very stable company that has many future job opportunities for me' ... I'm so lucky that my parents were like, 'obviously we're not crazy about this but we love you'."[5]

While working on her first novel Adeyemi was a creative writing coach.[7]

Adeyemi's first written novel did not yield positive feedback. She instead set herself a year to write another book that became Children of Blood and Bone, and she entered it into Pitch Wars, a competition program in which emerging writers are matched with editors and authors to revise their work before they submit it to a literary agent.[5]

Adeyemi's debut novel, Children of Blood and Bone, was released in March 2018, and debuted at number 1 on The New York Times Young Adult Hardcover Bestseller List.[12] It is a young-adult (YA) fantasy novel,[13] featuring protagonist Zélie Adebola, who fights a monarchy to return magic to her people. Adeyemi has said she wanted to write a fantasy novel set in West Africa so that "a little Black girl [could] pick up my book one day and see herself as the star...I want her to know that she’s beautiful and she matters and she can have a crazy, magical adventure even if an ignorant part of the world tells her she can never be Hermione Granger."[14] Children of Blood and Bone was awarded the 2018 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy and is a finalist for the 2019 Lodestar Award for Best Young Adult Book.

Fox 2000 has purchased the film adaptation rights to the book.[13] Reportedly the deals for the publishing and film rights were approximately seven figures.[15][16] Deadline described it as "one of the biggest YA debut novel publishing deals ever."[13]

Adeyemi made a guest appearance in the final episode of Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis.[17]

For reasons unclear, her second novel, Children of Virtue and Vengeance was pushed back from its initial release date of March 2019 to June 2019. According to some Amazon users, the book was pushed back again from June 2019 to December 2019. Adeyemi later admitted on her Instagram that her publisher offered her two choices: June 2019 and December 2019, but she chose the former so fans would not have to wait. Unfortunately, the workload was too much and the author, editors, and publisher agreed to give the second book more time.

Personal lifeEdit

Adeyemi lives in San Diego, California.[13] She is of Yoruba heritage.[18][19]


In November 2018, Adeyemi accused Nora Roberts of plagiarizing the title of her book, Children of Blood and Bone.[20] Adeyemi later retracted the accusation saying "after talking to her, I believe our titles were created in isolation".[21] Roberts later clarified that her book had been titled and submitted to her publisher one year before Adeyemi's. She also criticised Adeyemi's lack of fact checking and the fact that Adeyemi had not deleted the accusation a day later.[22] According to the United States Copyright Office, copyright "does not protect names, titles, slogans, or short phrases."[23][24][25]



  1. ^ Nsubuga, Jimmy (April 15, 2017). "Writer lands seven figure deal for Black Lives Matter-inspired fantasy novel". Metro. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  2. ^ "2018 Nebula Awards". The Nebula Awards. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  3. ^ "2019 Hugo Award & 1944 Retro Hugo Award Finalists". The Hugo Awards. 2019-04-02. Retrieved 2019-05-19.
  4. ^ Adeyemi, Tomi (August 1, 2018). ""thank you all for making this the best birthday yet..."". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-08-01.
  5. ^ a b c d Kembrey, Melanie (March 9, 2018). "Interview: Tomi Adeyemi and her fantasy novel inspired by Black Lives Matter", The Sydney Morning Herald.
  6. ^ Shapiro, Lila (February 23, 2018). "Watch the Book Trailer for Tomi Adeyemi's Children of Blood and Bone, One of the Biggest Deals in YA History". Vulture.
  7. ^ a b Wols, Lauren; Eck, Everett; Anderson, Hannah (March 21, 2018). "New author Tomi Adeyemi visits her alma mater". Hinsdale Central High School (Hinsdale, Illinois).
  8. ^ "Hinsdale Central High School Foundation - Young Scholars 2008". Retrieved 2019-07-13.
  9. ^ "Senior Scholarship Program". PowerShow. Retrieved 2019-07-13.
  10. ^ "Tomi Adeyemi". Goodreads. Goodreads. Retrieved August 5, 2017.
  11. ^ Durosomo, Damola (March 29, 2017). "This 23-Year-Old Nigerian Author's Afrofuturist Novel Has Been Picked Up By Fox Studios". OkayAfrica. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  12. ^ "Young Adult Hardcover Books - Best Sellers". The New York Times. March 25, 2018. Retrieved April 6, 2018.
  13. ^ a b c d Fleming Jr, Mike (March 29, 2017). "Fox 2000, Macmillan Land African Flavored Fantasy Novel 'Children Of Blood And Bone' In Splashy Deal". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  14. ^ "Tomi Adeyemi's unpublished novel and fantasy movies". BusinessDay. April 1, 2017. Retrieved June 20, 2017.
  15. ^ Danielle, Britni (March 30, 2017). "Tomi Adeyemi's Debut Novel Heading to the Big Screen in Blockbuster Deal". Ebony. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  16. ^ Rosen, Judith; Roback, Diane; Sellers, John A.; Nawotka, Ed (April 14, 2017). "A Big Week for Children's Book Publishing". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved April 16, 2017.
  17. ^ Sunshine Moxie (2018-11-15), Hermione Granger and the Quarter Life Crisis - Episode 207 - "AIW", retrieved 2018-11-25
  18. ^ "Why my Parents didn't Teach My Siblings & I Yoruba – Tomi Adeyemi". BellaNaija. August 22, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  19. ^ Adenike Adebajo (January 24, 2020). "Tomi Adeyemi on channelling her Naija ancestors, fantasy and faith". Retrieved January 26, 2020.
  20. ^ Adeyemi, Tomi (November 29, 2018). "Twitter Profile". Twitter. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018.
  21. ^ Adeyemi, Tomi (November 29, 2018). "Twitter Profile". Twitter. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018.
  22. ^ Roberts, Nora (November 29, 2018). "Mob Rule By Social Media". Fall Into The Story. Archived from the original on November 29, 2018.
  23. ^ Copyright Office, United States (November 29, 2018). "Copyright FAQ".
  24. ^ Jordan, Tina (December 14, 2018). "Seeing Double on the Shelves".
  25. ^ Kramer Bussel, Rachel (December 1, 2018). "Romance Author Nora Roberts RespondsTo Tomi Adeyemi Accusation: 'You Can't Copyright A Title'".

External linksEdit