I recently read “The Curse Of Happiness” by the author and I immediately fell in love with her story telling skills and writing style (check out my review on this book by clicking on “Book Reviews” on the Homepage Menu). I became curious as usual about the author and her inspiration for her book so I contacted her to request for an online interview. I was lucky enough to get through to her and was thrilled when she accepted my request to this interview.
Edify Yakusak is a Lawyer. She is Bajju from Southern Kaduna, Kaduna State, Nigeria. She spends most of her time writing stories and screenplays. Her first book. After They Left, was adjudged as one on the top 10 fiction books in 2016 by the Channels Book Club.
Edify Yakusak has given us some insight into her life as a writer by answering 10 questions.
1. What were the early influences on your writing and how do they manifest in your work.
Edify: I grew up reading books from my Dad’s library: The Left Behind series, Frank Peretti and a whole lot of Christian fiction. I also had elder relatives who had a lot of romance and thriller novels. An author who I believe has influenced my writing was Jackie Collins. I thought her books were bold, fierce and unapologetic, it made me want write stories that were unafraid and unashamed.
2. What is the biggest surprise you experienced after becoming a writer?
Edify: I don’t know if this is a surprise or even a big one at that but there’s still a bias against African writers by Nigerians. Often, I’ve heard someone say, “I don’t like Nigerian books.” Then I’d ask, “Which one have you read recently?” And they won’t be able to answer, or they’d say “I only like the old ones written by the likes of Cyprian Ekwensi, Chinua Achebe or those published under African Writer Series.”
3. What tactics do you have when writing? (For example: outline or just write)
Edify: I always write an outline for everything I write. I hardly ever write as it comes. Before I write every story I brood over it. I get a lot of story ideas, but the ones I put to paper are the ones that refuse to leave my head. So I write an outline, then write the entire story on paper, before I type it on the computer.
4. Which do you prefer? Pen or type writer or computer? Music or silence?
Edify: Pen then computer. What I listen too depends on what I am writing. Music sometimes acts like some sort of score that hangs over my thoughts and writing. When I’m writing a really sad scene, I listen to some sad core and it helps my process.
5. What books have fortified you as a writer?
Edify: The Joys of Motherhood by Buchi Emecheta, Waiting for an Angel by Helon Habila. Books I read authored by Jackie Collins
6. What genre do you consider your books? Have you considered writing in another genre?
Edify: I try not to categorize my books or my writing. I mean others can do it, but I don’t. I feel like if I do that, I’d put myself in a box. I want to write different stories that cut across all genres. I want to be guided by the story and stay true to it and not be restricted by writing within a genre.
7. Have you written any other books that are not published?
Edify: Yes. Still don’t know what I am going to do with them. Lol
8. What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
Edify: Sometime in 2017, an older family friend, who worked with an NGO in Maiduguri who had read my first book, “After They Left” told me she met a woman that who dug her husband’s grave with her bare hands and buried him after he had been killed by Boko Haram, similar to what a character in my book had done. I think about that a lot.
9. Do consider yourself to be a successful writer? If so, why? If not, what would make you successful?
Edify: Yes. A while back, just before the release of my first book, I was anxious about how well I’ve done and if the book will be well received. Most times writers measure their success or otherwise based on two things: the number of copies sold and whether people have nice things to say about the book or not.
I didn’t want that to be my yardstick for measuring literary success. Selling a ton of books is great, but it’s much more than having a good book, there are other factors to consider like; location, marketing, distributing structures, financial situations and a whole lot. Especially in Nigeria where the literary infrastructure is still developing. I also realized writing is a solitary vocation, and since it is bringing something out of nothing, or creating or transforming something that wasn’t there, there is that propensity to see every critique or take on your writing as an attack on the writer. I thought this was unhealthy. I needed to be able hear/read things people say about my work and not consider them as an attack on my person or creativity.
So I sat down and wrote what a writer would look like to me and for me it is; the amount of time and discipline I have dedicated to my writing, it is whether I have done my very possible best for the story with what was available to me at that time, it is whether I stay true to the stories and characters, it is whether I have stayed true to myself. I have done all these so yes again, I am a successful writer.
10. Tell us something about yourself not many people know about?
Edify: Emmmm. I’m a good dancer?
Thank you Edify Yakusak for granting this interview.
I wish you the best in your journey as a writer and story teller.