Bolu Babalola is writing a sequel to summer hit novel Honey & Spice
People looking to heat up their summers needn't look much further than Bolu Babalola's romance Honey & Spice.
The novel, which was the Reese's Book Club pick for July, follows the sharp-tongued Kiki Banjo as she embarks on a charade with campus player Malakai Korede to convince their college campus that a stray kiss was for real in an effort to salvage their reputations.
Now, EW can exclusively announce that Babalola is penning a sequel, Sun Under Skin, coming to shelves in 2024. Trading in a fake dating romance for a second chance love story, Babalola revisits Kiki and Malakai, jumping ahead to their future.
At 28, Kiki Banjo has forged a successful career as the host of the popular podcast The HeartBeat, answering romantic conundrums and dishing out life advice. But after years dealing with other people's problems, her passion for the job is beginning to wane, and Kiki's own love life is proving to be her biggest struggle. Her best friend, Aminah, is getting married to her university sweetheart, and Kiki is starting to wonder if maybe she missed out on her own happy ending when she had her chance.
Kiki wants to arrange the biggest and best wedding ever for her friend. But plans go sideways when her old love is nominated to help out too. Both of them are determined to deny their fiery chemistry in order to protect their hearts. Yet, as the wedding closes in, their magnetic draw to each other resurfaces and things get complicated. This time, will Kiki follow her heart or her head?
Further details, including the cover design, are still to come, but Babalola answered some of the EW's questions about her writing process, the success of Honey & Spice, and what prompted the genesis of this sequel.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You have now made the jump from writing short stories to novels after the success of short story collection, Love In Color. Do the processes for each differ for you? Do you prefer one to the other?
BOLU BABALOLA: It wasn't a jump! I have always written novels. I started writing Honey & Spic e way before Love In Color was even a glimmer in my eye. To write a good short story, you have to pour the same meticulous characterization and world-building as you would with a novel, but concentrated. It isn't less work- far from it. The only difference with a novel is that it is sustained. Short stories are fun, and sometimes I like to come up with a sentence as see where it takes me in a small space of time, almost like an exercise and craft, but I love living inside the world of a novel, love knowing a certain group of characters for a while.
The golden rule of romance is happily-ever-after or at least happy for now. With Kiki and Malakai, what made you decide to give them a second chance romance in the forthcoming follow-up?
They're kids in the first book! And as much as their love is very much real, I wanted it to be grounded in reality — they're going to grow up, mature, figure out who they are apart from each other, and I really wanted to see how their romance and love would fare in that context, as adults who have lived a little more, know themselves a little more. Does their love grow too? Did they need to grow apart in order to be together properly?
What's more fun to write? Enemies to lovers/fake dating or second chance romance?
I love both!! I think second-chance romance is so uniquely beautiful though because it takes a lot of courage and belief to go back to a place and hope it works out again. It takes immense vulnerability but also faith — that's at the core of love generally, and I think second chance romance really hones in on that.
Your writing is always so striking in its deeply poetic and lyrical approach. How did you hone that style?
Wow, thank you so much! I am not sure. I think I have always loved music and song-writing and poetry, and reading African and South-American authors really emboldened me to lean into that and embrace it and flout rules. So I just go where my voice tells me to, and I feel like the story fares better for that because it's true to me.
Do you want to write novels for any of the supporting characters in Honey & Spice?
Unsure! Never say never, but I think sometimes it's best to leave the world alone. Time will tell. I wouldn't want to ruin anything lol!
How would describe Sun Under Skin in three words?
Sexy, Sweet, Evolution.
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