I’m in Sophocles, a resolutely working-class bakery and café that has been in Camberwell for 20 years, open 6am to 11pm, seven days a week. Police, nurses, older people, everyone comes here. I’m watching people come and go, listening to conversations. It’s grounding after a morning inhabiting imaginary worlds and stories.
Misfits: A Personal Manifesto, by Michaela Coel. I love the way Coel is celebrating “commercially unattractive, beautiful misfits”.
My favourite author is Zora Neale Hurston, whose work as an author is grounded in her work as an anthropologist. I’m inspired by the way she went out into the world, an adventuress, breaking the expectations of what black women could and couldn’t do, travelling extensively in the Caribbean as part of her research.
My bamboo desk is in front of a bare white wall. I don’t like to have views or paintings in my direct line of vision because I have so many stories, images, and ideas running through my mind that anything else would be a distraction. I have a futon for curling up with a book in the afternoons. There’s a yoga mat where I do Pilates, yoga, and meditate at random times throughout the day.
It would have to be Yamaye, from my book Fire Rush because her story is based on my life as a young woman. I can be passive like Yamaye and have often fallen under the spell of feisty, charismatic, hard-backed women. But sooner or later, I switch into fifth gear and want to run the show, and will fight hard to get control.
My heroes are often those working in the third sector, where so many heroes go about their day-to-day tasks without acknowledgement. And my aunt, Maxine. An extraordinary ordinary sixty-three year-old black woman who has gone through her life unnoticed, undervalued. She likkle but she talawa, is what my grandmother would often say of her – she is strong and spirited.
Fire Rush by Jacqueline Crooks is nominated for the Women’s Prize for Fiction 2023. The winner will be announced on 14 June2023-06-01T14:15:11Z dg43tfdfdgfd