Sunday, 25 March 2018

Interview - Nikky Norton-Shafau of the 'Becoming Storybook' project

Today, I have a very interesting interview to share with you. I was intrigued from the moment I heard about Nikky Norton-Shafau's 'Becoming Storybook' project. As she's currently reading one of my favourite books of the year, Children of Blood and Bone, I've interviewed Nikky to find out more about her project. 

Tell us about your 'Becoming Storybook' project.

In 2015, I wrote down on a piece of paper 'My name is Nikky, I'm a little bit strange... I want to become a Storybook.' I have so many journals where I write down ideas, doodles and random thoughts. I had no idea this particular thought would grow into the adventure I'm currently on. What started as an artist experiment has now turned into a project where I have created my own job title and job description that helps me deliver a service where I feel truly in my element.

Some of the things I deliver include telling stories in 'secret gardens', libraries and other interesting spaces, I run creative workshops for community groups/individuals and am lucky enough to create podcasts and bespoke plenary poems at events.

What inspired your journey?

So many things! I was thinking about this the other day, how, in retrospect things make sense - you can see where it all comes from but sometimes when you're in it, you're kind of not thinking - if that makes sense.

What made me take action was a feeling. When I wrote down the idea - It felt good. In my belly, y'know, it just made me smile inside in a way that felt right and I had been searching for that feeling for a long time.

As I got deeper into trying and failing to become a book, I began consciously feeding from the world around me - having conversations with people, looking into my cultural and family history and coming back to myself and nature to try and make sense of it all.

Which stories did you love most as a child?

People's stories. I used to like listening to people and (though I would not have said it at the time) I suppose I was curious about the conflict between what people said and how they acted. I used to have a paper round with a lot of older people who used to invite me in and tell me stories about their lives too - I loved that.

Why did you choose to do a read along of Children of Blood and Bone? What do you think of the book so far?

The description got me excited! I was proper hyper fan girl when I discovered it. I had read summaries of books online previously but this book got me wanting to shout about it to everyone I knew. I felt I could contribute in spreading the word as some people had not heard of the book within my circle.

The book showcases Nigerian culture and female characters in a unique way and I hope it gets to reach people who would love to see African characters, magic and symbolism in this form.

I am currently on Chapter 11 and it's action packed - I just don't know what is going to happen next! I love the complex character of Inan - I really want to know whats going on with him. The visual imagery is rich throughout and engages all the senses.

What are you planning to do next?

Well, I am still trying to become a storybook. I'm not quite there yet! I am posting summaries of each chapter of Children Of Blood And Bone on Youtube. Can I truly get lost in a book? Tune in chapter by chapter to see if I can make magic happen.

This weekend I am delivering a library den experience and fusing storytelling and origami for the first time. I have also been invited to create podcasts and a plenary poem for Under Her Eye, a conference led by women who care about the environment hosted at The British Library. And finally I have another series of secret garden storytelling sessions this Summer for those who like nature and adventure. To attend collect your Golden Key here:

Thanks so much for joining me on the blog today Nikky and thank you to everyone for reading! I'll be following Nikky's journey with interest, and you can check out what she thinks of Children of Blood and Bone on Youtube (beware of spoilers if you haven't read the book yet!)

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