8 Questions... Atinuke

Atinuke is a Nigerian-born author who started her career doing traditional oral storytelling. Her books include Anna Hibiscus and B is for Baby. She now lives in Wales.

1. What is the best question you’ve been asked in an event and how did you answer?

‘What’s your favourite biscuit’ – chocolate bourbons!

2. Which events other than your own have you seen and which have stayed with you?

Last year, what stayed with me was Marcus du Sautoy, the mathematician who’s here again this year.

3. Hay Festival in one sentence or word?


4. What’s so special about Hay Festival?

The festival is special because it’s so comfortable and so professional and so well organised. There are so many people to see who are current and that I am always longing to see. There’s no end of fabulous acts. I’m really into fiction and my kids are really into non-fiction and sometimes I feel like it doesn’t matter what I go to because it’s going to be quality and really interesting. Even subjects that don’t interest me, the events are interesting. And the town is fun and quirky and I love the countryside. And all the yummy cafes!

5. What was the last book that you read and loved?

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo. I loved the layers, the depths of it and the settings and description. Lots of teen fiction is really plot driven and it’s just about what happens next, this is so detailed and so rich. The characters aren’t goodies or baddies.

6. What is the book you’ve most often given as a gift?

The Presence Process by ---- which is a book about meditation.

7. Which book has most inspired you?

The Milly-Molly-Mandy series by Joyce Lankester Brisley. The repetition, the rhythm and the simplicity of it. The themes are so comforting in it, of family and belonging and place. It’s really strongly influenced my work which I didn’t actually realise until I’d written my first series and then I found my old Milly, Molly, Mandy books and I read them and thought ‘oh, I must have just copied!’, they must have sunk to deep into me.

8. Which piece of advice do you wish you could give your 16-year-old self?

Calm down. Don’t go so fast, it’s all going to come to you.


Atinuke talked B is for Baby at Hay Festival on Monday 27 May. Listen to it back on Hay Player here.