Tomi Oyemakinde on The Changing Man and thrillers for tweens and teens

The Changing Man by Tomi Oyemakinde. Book cover and author photo.

This month our Macaw subscribers are reading a sinister, supernatural thriller unlike anything we've ever read before. The Changing Man, set in an exclusive boarding school and starring a diverse and relatable cast of characters, had us completely gripped from start to finish. It's an extraordinary book and we can't wait to hear what our subscribers think! Here author Tomi Oyemakinde tells us why it's actually a book about friendship and which thrillers for tweens and teens he recommends you read next.

What inspired you to write The Changing Man

Three main things inspired The Changing Man. First, having gone to boarding school (many years ago now), I wanted to write a story set in one. Second, it took me a while to learn that home isn't only found in a place, but can be found in people too. I wanted to write a story to help others learn that truth too. Last, but no least, I watched a scary movie (Jordan Peele's US) alone and late at night. I still remember how I felt walking home. Terrified and energised. I knew I wanted to try and capture the feeling in a story.

Are any of the characters or elements of the story based on real people or events? 

Ife, the main character, shares similarities with me in terms of experiences I've been through. I moved schools a couple of times and each time, I felt like a fish out of water. The situation at the end of Chapter 1 is based on a real event. I won't give too much away but I was about thirteen, had a new phone time with a ring tone I didn't know. Needless to say, the teacher wasn't impressed. Other than that, everything is pure fiction and weirdness!

Nithercott and the landscape around it are described so vividly. What inspired the setting?  

Thank you! The school and the surrounding area draws heavily on the wonderful boarding school I went to growing up. I must stress the wonderful part, because of everything that unfolds and the characters we meet.

What do you hope young readers will take away from the story and how it unfolds? 

I hope young readers see the joy it is to find GOOD friends and to hold on to them.  Not only that, but I hope they see why they should pause to consider the significance of others and take a genuine interest in them. Doing so helps us understand one another better whilst honouring what makes us different.

Can you tell us anything about what the future holds for Ife and her friends? 

I can indeed. In my mind, Ife and her friends will return one day. Their friendship has more stories to tell, I know that much.

Why did you choose to write books for this age group?

I would not be where I am now if it were not for the stories that captured my imagination at ages 12-14. They ensured I kicked on and continued to read, even as I harboured dreams to design the next tech gadget or be a professional footballer. Reading is important and to write stories that encourage that pipeline of avid readers is a blessing and thrill.

Do you have a favourite place to write?

I don't. But what I do have is a favourite set up. No matter where I am, I find I write best when I can see out of a window, have a hot beverage nearby (tea or coffee), and have some classical music in my ears.

Which other thrillers for tweens and teens would you recommend our subscribers read next? 

Oooh, great question. This Book Kills by Ravena Guron is great. The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is another cracking read too. And one final recommendation--The Revelry by Katherine Webber. 

Copies of our The Changing Man pack, including a copy of the book and loads of fun activities to go with it, are now available for individual purchase. Grab a copy while stocks last!

This post includes affiliate links to our page, meaning we receive a small percentage of the sale should you purchase through them. Additionally, a percentage from all sales on the platform goes directly to local UK bookshops which is an initiative we're delighted to support!


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