Meet an author: Leye Adenle
Leye Adenle is a Nigerian writer. He is the author of Easy Motion Tourist, an award-winning crime novel. He has written a number of short stories and flash fiction pieces. Leye has appeared on stage in London in plays including Ola Rotimi’s Our Husband Has Gone Mad Again. Thankfully despite his busy schedule, he was able to sit down with TheBookDealer for a chat. Read the interview here:
1. When did you start writing and why?
I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. As far back as primary school, I would write short stories or the beginning of adventure novels in the back of my school notebooks. I’m not really sure why I took to writing. I guess just like one kid takes to football and another to mathematics, I found my fulfillment in writing.
2. At what point do you know that a story/book is complete?
There is a notion that publishers have to tear manuscripts from the ever editing fingers of writers. A story is complete once it’s told and told well. To be told well, it most likely will need several drafts and edits. For me, a novel is done when I can’t stand the thought of going over it one more time, and then I do. It’s that edit after that very, very, last, last edit that I’m usually sufficiently comfortable with. I’m currently on the fourth edit of the sequel to Easy Motion Tourist. I anticipate as many more edits before I’m ready to let it into the world.
3. What’s the hardest/easiest thing about writing?
The most difficult part of writing is knowing that you might never be able to make a living out of it. It is a venture that takes so much time and energy, long hours working in isolation, years of foregoing social interactions just to complete a novel, and when it’s done, no matter how good you think it is or how many people tell you they really enjoyed reading it, the financial return is likely to result in a net loss, taking into account the thousands of hours you spent labouring on it.
This is made even worse when people start sharing pirated copies of your book. You make so little from writing that sometimes you ask yourself, is it really worth it? Is it worth the neglected relationships, the lost opportunity to spend the time on something actually profitable?
The easiest part of writing is saying you will write something. I will write a book. I will tell my story. This year, I will complete my first novel. That’s the easy part. Saying you will do it. I meet so many people who tell me how they’re going to write a book. They seldom do.
That’s the easy part: saying you’re going to do it. Everything that follows is hard labour, endless toil and harrowing self-doubt. An exercise in relentless self-flagellation. But all is not gloomy. It is a sweet kind of pain. With enough emotional intelligence to stay on the course, the accomplishment of just finishing a manuscript itself can do so much for the author who persevered. Even before a book deal is signed. Even if a book deal is never signed. Just getting to the finishing line, to those words: “The End”, can do so much for your psyche. You did it. You wrote an entire novel.
The most difficult part of writing is knowing that you might never be able to make a living. Click To Tweet
4. What books would you say shaped your writing?
Everything I’ve ever read has shaped my writing. Like a lot of Africans who write, I have taken a lot from Achebe. His direct, crisp, lean, beautiful prose. From Amos Tutuola I learnt freedom of form, boldness, and courage to experiment. From James Patterson, rewarding suspense. I could go on and on.
5. Are you working on anything at the moment?
I’m currently working on ‘When Trouble Sleeps’, the second book in the Amaka series. Easy Motion Tourist is the first.
6. How do you feel about bad reviews?
I have read highly rated books that I hated with furious intensity. Absolute rage at total, irrecoverable waste of the time spent reading what I consider to be pointless, gibberish, self-indulged, highfalutin, drivel. Sometimes the books don’t even come highly recommended and I am eventually surprised when they win awards and get praised for this and for that. Like, did we read the same book?
And this is the nature of reviews. It is a very subjective thing. It is as much about the reviewer, as it is about the book, if not more. In a review, we ask a person to tell us what they think about a book. They. Their thoughts. Their emotional response to the book. It is not a task that promotes objectivity in anyway.
How do I feel about bad reviews? I try to read them objectively for clues on how I can improve my craft. And then I discard them to the rubbish bin of other people’s opinions.
7. If you could be a character in a novel you’ve read, who would you be and why?
The invisible man. Why? Invisibility. INVISIBILITY!!!
8. If your life was a book, what would the title be?
The Life of Leye Adenle.
9. Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
Right now, right this moment, I am in a coffee shop doing this interview. To my right there are two young girls laughing as they talk. In front of me, to the left, a man is also staring down at the screen of his laptop, white earphones dangling from his ears. Straight ahead a lady is cradling a disposable cup in her hands while reading from a tablet standing on what looks like a laptop bag balanced on her laps. In the minutes before I started this interview I made up back stories for each of them. They don’t know this. Nobody knew this but me, until now. 🙂