Detroit Free Press Q&A!


Thanks to Anna Clark, founder of Literary Detroit, for the Q&A that she did with me.  It just ran in yesterday’s Free Press. Nothing like getting covered in your hometown newspaper!

Here’s an excerpt:

QUESTION: How did this novel come to be?

ANSWER: It was fascinating for me to have written this. I did travel to Nigeria when I was young, similar to Angie in the book. And I too lost my sister when I was a senior in college, though clearly not the way it happens in the novel. But while the basic autobiographical pieces are there, the story changes. The first few efforts in writing the story, I felt like I was too close to truth. (The novel only took off) when I exploded the story by combining these two intense experiences by placing the sister in Nigeria — that’s where she needed to be.

I wanted to explore the fundamental themes about what it means to figure out who you are in the shadow of a loved one, in the way that you always define yourself against your siblings. Who are you when that person’s gone? I also didn’t want to give up the piece about a young African-American woman’s experience (in Nigeria) at a very particular time in history. It was not the ’70s, when “back to Africa” made it easy to figure out how to be part of it. I put (Angie) in a floundering time for all of us: the ’80s.

Also, I’m thrilled to note that Literary Detroit will be hosting my reading on Sunday, October 19 at Signal-Return in Eastern Market.  Mark the date: More info shortly. Hope to see you there!

Read the full Q&A here.

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