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Q&A With Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Upon finishing Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun I had some questions and took the chance offered to put them to the author. Not only did Sarah answer them, she prepared an audio version just for The Worm Hole. I’m hopeful the majority of you will be able to listen to the file, but if not the written answers are below. Pausing the audio takes you away from the track, so be aware that if you do pause, you’ll have to either reload this page or visit SoundCloud’s page for the file. If anyone knows how to stop this change happening, do let me know.

Like A Mule Bringing Ice Cream To The Sun

Where did you get the idea for the book and where did the title come from?

In life, I meet many older women who have lived colourful lives, and yet when it comes to fiction I find few stories that mirror this, especially when it comes to the lives of black women. Whenever I cannot find stories that I’d like to read, I inevitably try writing them for myself. The title of my book, Like a Mule Bringing Ice Cream to the Sun, is taken from two lines of Mary Ruefle’s poem, Donkey On. I love the imagery in these lines and the fact that it evokes multiple senses and possible meanings.

Morayo’s love of books is written in detail. Following this you show the process of de-cluttering, then Sage finds a book and keeps it. I was wondering if there was anything in this process?

Morayo’s love of books is, in a way, homage to many of the authors that I’ve admired over the years. The passing of one of Morayo’s many books to my homeless character, Sage, is perhaps symbolic, showing how books can also bring people of all backgrounds together.

A photograph of Sarah Ladipo Manyika

Both Morayo and Reggie are afforded time to talk about their sexuality. Could you tell us about that, the importance of it and so on?

I often find that sexuality in older age is either thought not to exist, or that it shouldn’t exist at all. My characters obviously think quite differently.

The ending is left open – there’s a likely but not forgone conclusion. What was it that made you choose this slight ambiguity?

I’ve always liked endings that leave room for the imagination – for scenarios that even the author might not have imagined. The other day, a reader of my first novel informed me that the way he interpreted the ending of my first book (in which my two main characters sit outside on a bench, hand in hand, reminiscing about times past) was that my characters sat outside in the cold for so long that they froze! This was not at all what I had envisaged for those two characters but…

Any plans for your next book?

Right now I’m working on non-fiction, including a piece on homelessness in San Francisco.

My thanks to Sarah for her answers and also for making a recording – a lovely surprise! Thanks also to Alice from FMCM Associates for the book, information, and set up.


Laurie C

April 14, 2016, 5:39 pm

What a great audio clip, and such a great idea by the author! She has a lovely voice, and her thoughtful and thought-provoking answers made me really want to read her book.


April 15, 2016, 8:18 am

Laurie: Is it, isn’t it? It was lovely to receive it, especially, I think, as hearing the author’s voice can make a difference to your reading of their book.



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