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TLC Pen Factor Special – winner Lizzie Damilola Blackburn

“I open my eyes to see a Mexican wave of women dashing to their seats, each breathing a loud sigh of relief—except for Big Mama. She’s already slumped in her chair, shoes kicked off and legs outstretched. Her toenails look like pork scratchings dipped in red paint. With a plate of chin-chin balancing on her protruding stomach, she scoffs a handful of the biscuit-like snack, crunching like a horse chewing a carrot. I smile. Big Mama may be the loudest of my three-hundred odd aunties—yes, because in Nigerian culture, every Afro-Caribbean woman who is older than you by at least ten years, is by default, your auntie, regardless of whether or not you’re blood-related—but still, I cannot help but love the woman.”

Extract from ‘Yinka, where is your Huzband?’– included in the showcase

“I nearly didn’t apply for TLC Pen Factor. Hunched up on the sofa, feeling unwell, I still had a lot of work to do on my application. Then there was that niggling voice in my head telling me that I wasn’t good enough. That I didn’t have enough writing experience. But somehow—thank God!—I found the strength to persevere and I submitted my application in time. A few weeks later, Aki called me to say I’ve made the shortlist. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. Thank you TLC for this life-changing opportunity. I’m a giant leap closer to my dream of becoming a published author.” From the Introduction