Shyama Perera left school at 16 and got a job in the London Transport typing pool because she needed typing skills to be a journalist. At 17 she got her first break as a trainee and, at 23, was the youngest reporter ever taken on by the Guardian. That crown has since been stolen, but her love for words and information remains. Having segued into TV and radio, she found herself confined during and after pregnancy by the demands of motherhood, and turned her hand to fiction. Her first novel, Haven’t Stopped Dancing Yet, was published by Sceptre in 1999. Two more followed, and a belated fourth is the current work in progress. In 2004, her history of contraception, Taking Precautions, was published by New Holland.
Shyama still writes regularly for the national press, contributes short stories and essays to anthologies and presents on radio and TV. She is Chair of SALIDAA, the South Asian Diaspora Literature and Arts Archive, and on the board of Westminster Kingsway College. An avid theatre fan, her favourite role in recent years has been as a member of the Olivier Awards panel, which celebrates the best London productions of the season. In her spare time she operates an open door policy at the home she shares in north London with her daughters – which is why she comfort-eats chocolate on the quiet.
One of the country’s brightest new talents Irenosen Okojie talks about her writing with Shyama Perera and reads from her latest work. Irenosen’s debut novel Butterfly Fish won a Betty Trask award and was shortlisted for an Edinburgh International First Book Award. Her short story collection Speak Gigantular was shortlisted for the Edgehill Short Story Prize, the Jhalak […]