Candice Carty-Williams' Debut Novel 'Queenie' Easily Wears The Crown As This Season's Fresh, Funny, And Relatable New Voice

The debut author of the highly anticipated new novel shares how in trying to write something that she’d want to read, where she saw herself reflected, she found a story that would touch so many more.

Candice Carty-Williams' Queenie is the epitome of that refreshing new voice reviewers, including us, love to rave about. Her titular character, a 25-year-old Jamaican British woman in London at the tail end of a longterm relationship, is a bit of a hot mess--but a hot mess in which we can all recognize parts of ourselves. Her motley crew of girlfriends, whom she calls the Corgis, all shore her up in different ways as she navigates the landmines of her life, from racial and cultural expectations to the emotional trauma of her youth. Actress Shvorne Marks brings Queenie's world to life with an accessible range of British accents, while highlighting the soul searching for peace that belies the breeziness with which Queenie tries to meet the world, and eventually finds that her path forward isn't based on anyone but herself.

Listen in as Carty-Williams talks with editor Rachel Smalter-Hall about all the things she sought to get right in Queenie, from the importance of female friendships and mental health, to the cultural implications of overstepping when it comes to given names and the significance of hair.  

Note: Text has been edited and may not match audio exactly.

Rachel Smalter Hall: Hi, this is Rachel Smalter Hall, and I am an editor here at Audible. Today, I'm going to be speaking with Candice Carty-Williams. Candice is a senior marketing executive in publishing who has also created and launched The Guardian and Fourth Estate BAME short story prize, which aims to find, champion, and celebrate black, Asian, and minority ethnic writers. In Queenie, her first novel, a 25-year-old Jamaican-British modern woman searches for meaning in today's world. Candice, thank you so much for speaking with me today.

Candice Carty-Williams: It's my pleasure, thank you for having me.

RSH: So I'm going to launch right in. I don't really want to spoil anything in this lovely story, but I think it's safe to say that Queenie's search for Mr. Right doesn't go according to plan. Dating and relationships are part of her story, but it's ultimately more about Queenie's own self-discovery. Talk to me about why you made that choice.

CCW: I've read many, many books where the ending was just perfectly packaged, I guess, a fairy tale of sorts, even if they were modern day books. I remember thinking of that, and then looking at my actual life, and being like, well, what happens when the story ends? The story doesn't end. So what actually would be the realistic thing here for Queenie? Also, I know the importance of friendships, of female friendships, of having your sisters around you, and I thought that that would be something I needed to explore. So that was something that was there from the beginning. I didn't really plan any of the book, it kind of came all rushing out. But I did definitely know that the end wouldn't be a perfectly packaged one.

RSH: I love that you bring up the sisterhood in this book. It's one of my favorite elements of the book. But first, I want to ask you more about that. But first I'm dying to know, you work in the publishing world, you're very close to that world where we talk a lot about genre, and categories. I'm wondering, what genre did you set out to write? If you had to put this story in a genre, what genre would that be?

CCW: That's a really good question. I've always worked in literary fiction. So before this job, where I am at Vintage Books in the UK, I worked at Fourth Estate, which is the literary imprint of Harper Collins. I have been around and I have always read literary fiction, especially in my adult years. So when it came to writing, I was like, well, I would kind of like to write something like that. But with maybe someone who is having a real coming-of-age, but it was arrested in this really intense way. But I was also like, I'd like to have fun.

So I thought about what I'd want to read, and what I'd want to read if I wasn't someone who had access to literary fiction, and didn't think it was for them. So I thought, I'm going to write something that is, I guess, literary commercial. Queenie is smart, her friends are smart, the advice is smart, but lots of what happens to her, it's so accessible and so commonplace. So I really wanted to write something for everyone. Also, just, I guess because I work in publishing, I understand the way that something might be packaged, and something might be sold, so I knew that I wanted to write something that would reach the masses.

So I felt like writing in this commercial way was the way to do that. Just to get the words out, because I think so much of what I wanted to do, in all of the stuff I've done, so when I've done the short story prize, and I also worked on the mentoring scheme here, as part of Penguin, as part of my role here. Sorry, I also worked on a mentoring program at Penguin, and so everything I want to do, it's all about representation, and about getting the stories of those who are underrepresented out as widely as possible.

RSH: I wanted to ask you: who you write for? Who do you imagine when you're writing? Who is your ideal listener? Do you have a specific audience in mind?

CCW: I thought about this a lot. When I was writing it, it was kind of panicking, because, obviously again, I work in publishing, so I understand audiences and who might pick things up and read them, and who might see something on the shelf, and think it's them. So I think when I was writing, I was trying to write for so many different people. I was thinking, okay, well, you can't say that, because that person will be offended, and you might be thinking about this person here, but what about that person?

So I kind of stopped writing for a second. It was like, who would benefit from this book? I thought, this has to be the thing, if we take it base level, what I wanted to read when I was growing up, and the thing that helps me. Because I grew up in a really, I guess, less multicultural environment then maybe some of my peers, just because I went to a school that was predominately white middle class. The same with my university. I went to university in Brighton. The people that I am still friends with, they're all white middle class.

I work in publishing, which is incredibly white middle class. So all of these spaces that I've moved through, I realized that there are a few people within them who are the same as me, but also there are people who aren't like me, who would also benefit from this story, because if it's saying anything, it's also saying that while my culture might be different to yours, I still go through the same things, and I might have a different way of looking at it, just because of the lens of my life. I'm a black woman. I'm seeing things differently to most of my friends, and understanding things different, and I'm coming at them from a different angle. But it's still the same stuff, you know?

RSH: Right. Yeah, absolutely. You know, I love the Corgis in this book. Of course, people who aren't familiar with the book yet will have no idea what I'm talking about. Can you explain who the Corgis are for those that don't know yet, and then tell us how you got the idea for these characters, and what they mean to you.

CCW: So the Corgis are Queenie's, I guess, her disparate friends. So we have Kyazike who is one of her first best friends, who she met on the first day of what we have as secondary school. So when she was 11, that was the first person that she met. Then as she gets older, she also collects Cassandra, who is her first friend from university, who she stuck with. Then we finally have Darcy, who is a work best friend. They're all from different backgrounds as well. Kyazike is Ugandan. She lives in a council flat in south London with her mum, and she works in a bank, and it's really great, because she can look at men's bank balances and decide whether or not she should give them her number.

Then we have Cassandra, who is Jewish, and she lives in a huge house in north London, with her dad. He is a really fawning, really attentive father, and he really cares about her. That's something Queenie does not know. She does not understand that life. Then we have Darcy who is really kind, and she's trying to be very woke. She's white middle class. She has a really lovely boyfriend who is older than her, and she has her life set up for her. They're all very different people, and they haven't really met each other. But Queenie, when she's going through a breakup, and I guess, that sort of thing is the center of your world, which it does become when you're having them, she just puts them all into a group chat, and is like, rather than me telling you all what's happening in different conversations and taking up too much of my time, I'm just going to put you all in one place, in one digital pen, and we're just going to discuss what's going on with me.

So I really, really enjoyed writing those scenes the most, and they make me laugh the most. Basically the group chat thing came about, because I realized that I have all of these disparate friends. Different groups of friends. I don't have time to see them. We have so little time to see each other as we have jobs, and relationships, and pets, and holidays. So actually, group chats kind of have become the way forward, and the way to communicate with your friends sometimes, and just to quickly say, this is what's happening today, if anyone wants to join me, that's fine, that'd be great. But I would never dream of putting all of my different friends in one group. That would be chaos, and carnage, and awful.

RSH: But in fiction, you get to do that. It's lovely.

CCW: Exactly.

RSH: I need to ask you about a few of the names of her friends. It seems like you had a lot of fun picking out the names. So Darcy, that's a name that I think fans of romantic comedies often associate with Elizabeth Bennet's Mr. Darcy. Did you have that in mind when you decided to give this name to a bestie instead of a Mr. Right?

CCW: Yes. I exactly did. It's really interesting. When I wrote Queenie, some of the stronger characters, I didn't have their names when I was writing them. They were just girl X, or A, B, C for a long time because I could not figure, I was like, you know, you have a personality, and I understand that. But I really don't know what your name is going to be. So I spent a lot of time writing them as non-characters, and then what I eventually did is I just kind of had a proper think, when I thought of I've got the shape of them, got the measure of them, and then eventually I just thought about who they were, and what they represented. That's how I came up with Darcy, because she is the person that, I guess, I don't want to say any spoilers, but she is one of the characters who basically helps Queenie the most, and again, in the spirit of a man not ruling your fate, and not being the person that makes you happy and makes you whole, I thought that was really important.

RSH: Yes. I love that. I think that's why I love the Corgis so much. I love that they do fulfill that role in making a whole friend unit, instead of needing to look outside of that, necessarily, all the time, to feel whole. I do also want to ask you about Kyazike [pronounced Cheskah].

CCW: Kyazike. [pronounced Cheskay].

RSH: Kyazike [pronounced Cheskay]. Kyazike. That's so perfect that I messed up the pronunciation of her name, because I wanted to mention the scene where she's poking a little fun at someone who can't pronounce her Ugandan name correctly. That seems to be a longstanding issue for characters with non-Anglo names. Was that just a funny exchange that you wanted to throw in there, or did it have more resonance for you?

CCW: That is something that I think happens ... I mean, I know it happens quite a lot. I have, like in Jamaica, our names tend to be kind of Anglicized so I didn't really have this problem. But a lot of my friends who are from Uganda, Nigeria, Zambia, their names are quite often butchered by people with Western names or people who are just kind of like, okay, well, I'll do this to make it a bit easier for me. So I remember, this is happening anywhere, and I kind of heard it happen in meetings in my office.

But a couple of things that really got to me. I had a colleague who worked with me when I was at Fourth Estate. Her name was Emanuella. Her name is Emanuella, she's still around. [Laughter] She said that when she first started, someone had said to her, what's your name? She says, oh, Emanuella. The person said, oh, I'll just call you Umbrella, that's easier. That's Emanuella.  Emanuella, we know that. That's fine. Then I met a girl a few weeks later, in this sort of open office working space, and we got to talking, I think we were both taking our lunch at the same time, and I said, oh, what's your name? She said, oh, it's Kadisha. I looked at her name tag, and it said Kate. I said, is it Kate or Kadisha. Well, people can't be bothered to call me Kadisha, so they just called me Kate. That had made it onto her name tag.

So that was official that her name was just something it was not. So that's something that really, really stuck with me. I was like, basically, so much of Queenie is a way of me being like, these are the micro aggressions, the macro aggressions that happen to us. We don't really kick off with saying anything about them, but we know that they're there. They're really affecting. You know, two girls whose stories have really stayed with me, I think, three years later.

RSH: Yeah. What a wonderful tribute to them, to write this character into this book, and take a little bit of that power back for them.

CCW: Yeah.

RSH: Wow. So speaking of micro aggressions, a lot of Queenie's romantic prospects leave a lot to be desired. She meets a lot of guys, I mean, guys of all backgrounds, not just white guys, who treat their white love interest much differently than they treat Queenie. Can we talk a little about why that's part of her story?

CCW: That was sparked by something that happened to me a few years ago. I was on dating apps. My friends were on dating apps. One of my best friends, Lydia -- she is white, she is brunette, she is gorgeous. We talk about dating apps all the time, and we talk about men, and we talk about dates, talk about people that we've seen. We share a lot of screen grabs. Look at what this guy said today. Oh, should I go on a date with him? Do you like his hat? So we realized that we were talking to the same person by sharing all of these screen grabs.

She was on one app, I was on another. That was no problem, the sharing of things was like fun, we're like, this is a small world, London, it's cool. But I was talking to him on OK Cupid and she was talking to him on Happen, which is an app that connects you when you cross paths. He had said to her, hi, my name is, I'm not going to say his actual name. Let's call him Jacob. He said, "Hi, my name is Jacob. I work with kids. I live here. It'd be great to get coffee with you sometime. I love your profile." To me, he said, "Hi, do you fancy taking a day off work so that I can f*** you?"

RSH: Oh, I saw where that story was going, but still, I'm horrified.

So that happened. This was when I was kind of freshly on the dating app scene. So I was like, oh. Okay. This is surely a one-off. Then it just continued to happen. I wasn't always, I guess, sharing screen grabs with people and always finding the same person. But it's happened a few times. But the language throughout my online dating life has always been the same. That is what I guess I'm expected to be grateful for. But even if I sort of pop back onto a dating app now, at like five years after, I'm getting the same kind of language, and my black friends too. It's happening to them.

We kind of have to be wary and say to each other, like, seriously, no, don't meet that guy. You know what he wants you for. You know. That's where it came from. This is kind of a consistent thread, it's a consistent thing. Even going out and meeting people, it's kind of the same thing. I know it's about the standards of beauty here and the value that different people hold for different people. So yes, it's been a tough thing to navigate, really.

RSH: Right. How heartbreaking to see, then, how that same person would talk to a different woman, in whom he perceives a different value. That's, wow.

CCW: As an opening gambit, it's not like he'd been speaking to both of us for years, months, and had been like, she's the one and she's not. It was just like on opening, on just me looking at you. I guess seeing my dating profiles, they're just kind of like, hi, I like graphic novels, and I like Marvel films. I'm not open to this sex fest, you know?

RSH: Right, right. Wow. So let's lead right into mental health and therapy. So without going into too much detail, because I don't want to spoil anything, mental health and therapy definitely play a big role in Queenie's story. You seem to be touching on an idea, correct me if I'm wrong, but an idea that within the Caribbean community there may be a resistance to talking about mental health and therapy. What were you drawing from and why did you make the choice to address this in your story?

CCW: So in my experience, and, I would only ever write about what I really know. So in my experience, to talk about therapy is one thing, and to try to embark upon it is another thing. Also, just the language of understanding mental health issues, not spoken about. So in my family, the jokes I always make, that no one finds funny, is that we're all physically healthy but mentally we're not. So from back in the day, my granddad -- he'll never listen to this so I'm not in any trouble. But he suffered from really bad anxiety and depression.

Nobody has ever, ever, every spoken to him about it. But I do know from listening to family conversations, whispered conversations, that he takes antidepressants. It would have been really helpful for my mum to know that. For her sisters to know that. For my generation coming underneath that to know that. We all have stuff. I'm yet to meet someone who doesn't have stuff. But to have the language for it is an amazing thing. So many of my peers did. When I was younger, I kind of always felt low. I'd always felt low, and it was just part of my life, and commonplace. I thought that was normal. When a friend of mine, who was my best friend when I was 24, he was diagnosed with cancer. We knew quite soon on that it was going to be terminal.

RSH: Oh, I'm so sorry.

CCW: You know, it's one of the things. But that, coupled with sort of having been in educational institutions my whole life, from nursery, reception, university -- then suddenly being like, I'm out of those things, so I have no structure. I should get a job, and also, I don't understand how the world works, because this young friend of mine who is seemingly healthy is going to die. I was completely, completely spun out. I did not know what was going on, and I realized that my breathing was going wrong. I couldn't focus on things. I stopped eating, and I was having panic attacks. I did not have any of the language to understand what was going on. I remember saying to my family, I was like, I feel ill. They were like, you'll be fine. You'll be fine. That was my mum's side. Then when I said to my dad, I'm suffering from this, he said, you'll be fine. They're Caribbean on both sides.

I was just so lost because I was like why is everyone telling me that I'll be fine? I feel like my world is ending. I can't breathe half the time. Eventually I found out that my granddad had been on antidepressants for years. But my Nan had called them his helpers. So we just don't have the language. There is so much shame. I also found out my dad, when he was my age, had also had panic attacks. But I found this out a couple of years ago.

Had I said to him, Dad, I'm having these things, I don't understand, and he said to me, "I had them too, and I'm fine, now. I came out of them." How impactful would that have been? You know? So it's all of these things that we still didn't talk about it as a family now. It's still not something that's discussed openly on either side of my family. So I think it's time to at least understand what these things are, because when you don't know what they are, that really messes you up.

RSH: Right. And talk about representation and giving someone the language for something. I really admire what you've done around that in Queenie.

CCW: Thank you. Thank you very much.

RSH: Yeah. Okay. So leading into one of my absolutely favorite scenes, when Queenie spends the afternoon with Kyazike doing her hair. So this is such a tender, funny, real moment between two friends. Hair comes up again and again in Queenie's story. Can you tell me about the significance of hair to your story?

CCW: Well, okay. So this going to be a big one. The hair is something that I have been aware of since I was born, because my family, on my mum's side, are half Indian. They have got really long, relatively straight, flowing hair. My dad's side, we have thicker, tightly coiled hair. I basically look exactly like my dad's, but with female clothes on. So I have always struggled with my hair, where my mum and her sisters have just been put a comb through it and it's done. So I've been aware that hair is really important, because the pain of getting your hair done was always such a huge thing when I was younger.

I can still remember having to sit down and get my hair done, sit between my Nan's knees and have her drag a comb through my hair, and smack me on my hand when I put my hand up to say, Ow. My Nan took me to get my hair relaxed when I was 11, because she was like, I'm sick of it, your hair is too thick. I can't deal with it, because I've dealt with five girls that have got long, flowing hair. I can't do this anymore. So the politics of hair have always been prevalent in my life. As I got older, it was not hard for me to realize what hair meant to black women. So I see and understand that dreadlocks are professionally looked down upon, and again, cornrows, the same thing.

So a lot of black women who have, I guess, European style hair, a lot of the time it's because they're like, it's easier. It's easier to handle. It's easier to be able to present myself as someone who is ready to hire, someone is easily going to fit in. It really is down to that. I know that our hair is always a conscious choice. So when I wear a headscarf, I know that certain people will think, okay, Is her hair messy under? I just understand the politics of what something I'm going to do with my hair means. For Queenie, she gets her hair pulled a lot by men. She gets her hair touched a lot. This is something, getting my hair touched is something that happens all of the time. Still, to this day, all of the time, even though people know that you shouldn't, but people still can't help themselves. It makes me feel alien. It makes me feels like I'm a specimen. Even if it comes from a really kind place. So a couple of friend's parents have done it to me, recently.

RSH: Wow.

CCW: This when I have long extensions, or at the moment my hair is in a headscarf because ... A lot of it is because I'm sick of it. It's because I don't want you to touch my hair. You're not likely to do that if it's hidden. If I go to night's out, if I go to, like I went to Nottinghill Carnival, and two of my friends have to kind of form a protective sort of oval around me, because people who are drunk just kept reaching out and grabbing my hair.

RSH: Oh my god.

CCW: This was like two years ago. So it's one of those things where it's kind of ... You know, it's something that I can't believe I have to keep ... It's amazing that people don't realize that we're not just saying, don't touch my hair. The instances of our hair being touched are still happening all the time. I just think you would never do it to someone whose hair you considered to be normal. It's such a small othering thing to do. It's really isolating.

RSH: Right.

CCW: So the politics of hair is something that I think I'm definitely always aware, every time I step out of the house, of what my hair is saying before I can say anything with my mouth.

RSH: What a weight that must be.

CCW: Uh-huh.

RSH: I love the line when Queenie says, "The only people who are allowed to touch my hair are one: my hairdresser. Two: me. That's it." I imagine you want to say that all of the time.

So I want to move into just a few final questions about the audio and the format of the story. I'm just curious, as someone who works in publishing, do you listen to much audio?

CCW: So I mean, I love, love, love, love a physical book. I really do. I love a hardback. But I do like audio just because I guess it can give you a different reading of the book, because you know, everything about the way I read a book to myself, it dictates how I'm going to receive the text. So I read really quickly, just because naturally I do. So sometimes I guess you miss small things, sort of inside jokes, you miss intonations. When you actually hear something read, it's a completely different association. So a couple of months ago when Michelle Obama's Becoming came out, because I work as part of Penguin Random House in the UK, I was asked to speed-read, effectively, the whole thing, and write up sort of like a live-read, because it was so heavily embargoed here, I met somebody, a midnight with a copy and read it.

So I read the first two-thirds between midnight and 4 A.M., then had a couple of hours sleep, then had to be up at 7A.M. So I could start getting the content out. Then I finished it by lunchtime. Everything was all right. Then after I took a big breath, then the next day, I downloaded the audio version and just had a completely different experience to it. Not because I didn't have to do work on it. It was more that to hear someone, especially if the author is reading it, to hear them tell the story in the way that they really hear it in their head, that is absolutely incredible.

RSH: Yes. Michelle Obama, too, I listened to it as well, on audio. She's so iconic, and her voice is so amazing. Just to hear her...

CCW: Yes.

RSH: ...telling her story. I'm so glad to hear that that's one you loved on audio. I, myself, am a huge audio memoir fan.

CCW: Oh yes.

RSH: Yeah. There is nothing quite like hearing someone tell you their own story in their own voice. Do you have any others that you've enjoyed? Or is this kind of the one that sticks out to you as the one?

CCW: So I have two others that I really, really, really loved. The first is A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James, because Jamaica is where my family is from. Even though my grandparents moved here, and they were like, let's assimilate immediately and speak like the queen, the patois always comes out when someone is angry. So it's really nice for me to hear that anyway, because I don't hear it enough at home. Also, just, it's such a textured story, it's such a layered story, and it has such quiet moments of intense drama.

I love the way that you can hear that coming through. Also, I guess, to differentiate it, because Marlon James is amazing at writing so many different voices. So I think to have them where you can hear them, it really adds to the experience, because you're kind of like, okay, you're you. I know you. I know your voice. I know how you speak. I know that you have your special ways of saying certain things. So that was one that I thought was so amazing. It just pulls me into that incredible world. The other is Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.

RSH: Yes!

CCW: Just because it is completely epic. I have the book anyway, but I opted to listen to the audiobook just because the way that it's read, it's such an amazing reader. Also, that story is just ... It's like any film that I had seen. It is, I guess, the perfect, at the moment, the perfect inflection of book and film, that high drama, that I completely love. When it's in your ears, you can see and imagine so much. Just because it's such a sprawling epic with all of these magic characters, it's a really amazing thing to listen to. I love that. It's just alive.

RSH: That's an in-house favorite. Bahni Turpin is the narrator. She's phenomenal. She's such a gift as a voice actress. Lots of fans of Children of Blood and Bone over here, too. You managed to pick three of our in-house favorites. You're one of us, clearly.

CCW: Yay.

RSH: So were you involved at all in the narrator choice of Shvorne Marks for the audio version of Queenie?

CCW: Yes. So I had a sort of back and forth with my audio person about who could do it. He put someone to me, and I really liked her voice. She was super well spoken. I am quite well spoken, and they didn't choose me, which was rude. [Laughter] But when I actually listened to the selection, I heard one voice, and I was like, I think that's it. Also, because there were a few voices, a few accents in Queenie, and one of the accents that comes up a lot, and I'm going to struggle with in reading, because some of the best bits have Queenie's grandparents who are Jamaican, and have Jamaican accents. I cannot. I would not dare to do them in front of anyone, because people would just shake their heads. It's the only accent I can't really master, which is ironic.

But I said, "She has to be able to do a Jamaican accent," because there are so many idioms in there that I have heard growing up, and so many important phrases and sayings. You know, the Jamaican dialogue, the patois being in that book was really important to me because that dialogue is part of so many of our lives. I have friends for whom their mother tongue, or their parents mother tongue is not British. So they've had to grow up listening to all the grownups listening to two different languages. That's just it. That's just the way it is, two different accents and ways of saying things. I think there are also certain things that you might say in patois that would be different, so different with a British accent. So I think it was important for me to think about that, and to get that in there. So when I checked if Shvorne Marks could do the Jamaican accent, my audio person said, yep. I was like, book her. Let's do it.

RSH: Great.

CCW: I went to hear her recording it, one of the days. I think it took her about three or four days. When I walked in to this room, I could just hear this reading, and I was like, oh my god, these words are mine. It was, I guess, really maybe the first time that it hit me that I had written a book that people would listen to or read. That was crazy.

RSH: It's transformative almost, I think, in a way. I mean, the printed word is so intimate and personal, and then when you hear the audio, it kind of externalizes it and transforms it in this way that can be magical. Does she sound like Queenie? How Queenie sounded in your head?

CCW: She does. She does. I was really happy, I was really, really happy, because also she just kind of got all of the asides, because I think so much to Queenie is ... Because it's written in first person so much, and it is her thoughts, and her spiraling thoughts, or her asides, or her jokes. She's so sarcastic, and she's kind of like she just kind of takes life as it comes. Kind of an, oh, god, here we go again. I thought that Shvorne just captured that really perfectly, I guess that really layered way of looking at the world that isn't just someone who is seeing what's happening and they're remarking on it. Someone who is really understanding this mad way that the world can be, and having to sort of role with the punches, and that coming across through voice. You know?

RSH: Yeah. So you've now heard your story out loud, narrated by someone else. I know you're already pretty receptive to alternative forms of storytelling with your use of text message exchanges in Queenie. Do you think that all of this will factor into the next piece you write? I mean, will audio factor in? Are you going to do more experimentation with just the way that you write?

CCW: I know that audio from the beginning has been such a huge part of it and a huge consideration. I guess maybe even more so this time, because I think Queenie was, for me, it was so political to write, and it was about saying a lot of things. Whereas in the next book, it's time for me to just really be like, okay, so I'm technically, I guess, an author now. So I can just write a really good story that I want to write, and not one that I feel like I kind of have to write.

So as I said before, representation being my only driving force. Now I feel like Queenie is going to be in the world. She's going to do her thing, people are going to understand. I think the reception that I've had so far is that people have taken so much from it. They have learned so much from it. This is white middle-class people who are British and Americans, being that I did not realize that was how things are. By black women here and in the US being like, I did not know that I was alone. So people have learned different things and have taken different things from it. This time I'm able to just write what I think is a really good story. It's about friendships. If you liked the Corgis, think of this as the extended Corgis, with different characters, who are just as alternative as the Corgis.

RSH: I'm so excited. You have no idea. Well, thank you so much. Congratulations on Queenie, and being officially an author.

CCW: Thank you so much. I mean, I will not call myself an author until the 19th of March. So if anyone asks, I say that I work in books. But I'm really looking forward to being able to talk to people about it, because they've read it, not because they can sort of see some buzz, you know?

RSH: All right. Well, thank you so much, Candice Carty-Williams. We wish you the best with Queenie.

CCW: Thank you so much.


Up Next

Why Was The Sound Of His Words So Important To Marlon James As He Wrote 'Black Leopard, Red Wolf'?

The critically acclaimed author talks with our Sci-fi and Fantasy editor Sam Danis about the first book in his epic new trilogy, and shares how it continues his tradition of nuanced, intricate works that are perfect for audio.