I got Tomi Adeyemi’s Children of Blood and Bone in May. It was first in this list of attractive books I wrote about at the time. Actually, I got/bought an extra for a book club.
The tome is the Nigerian-American’s debut novel. It has been positively reviewed and she is now deservedly a New York Times and International bestselling author. She only turned 25 on August 1.
But the young author has also collected an unfortunate tag: an example for everything wrong with social media interaction in 2018.
it would be nice if an artist could create something special without another artist trying to shamelessly profit off it pic.twitter.com/GDCcYS2TGa
— Tomi Adeyemi (@tomi_adeyemi) November 27, 2018
The above is a real tweet by Adeyemi. In it, she accuses Nora Roberts – the Nora Roberts of over 200 novels spanning 25 consistent years – of plagiarizing her book’s title. She makes this claim without 1) having clarified from Roberts 2) any grace or class at all. (Number 3 would be “without respect” because I am Nigerian).
In a follow-up, she posts that Roberts “reached out” and explained. She is “grateful” in that follow-up which is supposed to be an apology. But its defensive conclusion doesn’t show she really wants to offer one. Anyway, her work is “something special”.
You should read Nora Roberts heartfelt, angry and instructive response. If you had always heard of her in passing but never quite took note, you may feel a compunction to begin your voyage into her world of words. She is definitely not “another artist” looking to “shamelessly profit” from a special book she had not heard of. What Adeyemi accused her of hurt to the deep recesses. Every hardworking professional ever so affronted can relate.
“Think, then think again, before you post. Be sure of your facts before you take a shot at someone. Be prepared for the vicious fallout once you do”
Adeyemi was wrong and considering her non-apology, she is wrong. But what I see here is the degrading nature of relationships and conversation in the social media age. Being a writer based in America, it could not have been as hard as a coal-miner’s day job to mail/text/call this “another artist” and ask to be clarified. Asking your agent to confirm your suspicion of foul play could have done it. Perhaps she would have learned, by following any civil and respectable human-contact process, that titles cannot be copyrighted. In any case, many books have been published before Children of Blood and Bone with “blood and bone” in their titles.
— Sammi 🎃🥀🌠 (@fragrantpages) November 28, 2018
Anyone who uses Twitter is familiar with its toxicity. Social media in general is problematic for conversation. The pulse of Roberts’ passionate riposte is in defense of integrity. But it also reveals how possible it is to taint a career by throwing mud in the wind to see where what sticks.
Adeyemi’s age is instructive in this; she is of the generation living much of their lives on the internet, a generation growing on different, more radical norms of social conduct. Young people do not know how to talk to each other without an internet-enabled phone as mediator; I am often guilty also. We did not need this ugly incident to confirm it but here we are.
Hopefully all parties move on. It will be wise if Ms Adeyemi could offer a proper apology, retracting her first moment of rage to fully reflect she now believes both titles were “created in isolation”. By evidence of tweets she’s posted following her second statement, she is alright. And judging by the “Nora Roberts” trend from Thursday evening over Friday morning, her newest book Of Blood and Bone (on sale from December 4) will probably sell out as soon as it hits shelves. Let them sha reserve a shipment for Nigerians.
Now, this is probably a good time to confess: it looks good on the shelf but I have only read the first two pages of Ms Adeyemi’s debut (it’s 85 chapters and five-hundred and twenty-five pages!). But the holidays are coming; there is time to do the business before its film adaptation and Children of Virtue and Vengeance (the second in her trilogy due by March) come out.
Opinions: Part formed, Part undergoing reform