Debut Author Snapshot: Ayobami Adebayo

August, 2017
Ayobami Adebayo Stay with Me is set in Nigeria in the 1980s. Akin and Yejide have been married for four years. They don't have any children, but they're in love, and though the country is slowly unraveling around them, they're among the lucky few who are getting along fine. When Akin's relatives pressure him into taking a second wife who they believe will give him children, the consequences are beyond anything they could have anticipated. First published in Nigeria and the U.K., Stay with Me was the only debut novel on the 2017 Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction shortlist.

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Author Ayobami Adebayo was born in Lagos, Nigeria, and earned her B.A. and M.A. degrees in Literature-in-English from Obafemi Awolowo University in Nigeria. She's worked as an editor for Saraba magazine since 2009. Adebayo talked to Goodreads about how she looks to plays to help develop her characters' dialogue, what books have influenced her writing, and what she's recommending to her friends.

Goodreads: Tell us about the process of writing this book and how you knew you had struck the idea for your first novel.

Ayobami Adebayo: In 2008, while I was in my final year in the university, I was working on a short story about a marriage that had broken down, and at one point I became quite frustrated with the story. One night I took a walk to figure out what was wrong with it. I was standing in front of Oduduwa Hall, where Akin and Yejide meet in the novel, when about 50 percent of the plot just came to me. I didn't start writing Stay with Me until two years later, but I knew then that I'd gotten the idea for my first novel.

GR: You've said that you thought you'd become a playwright, and you still read many plays. How do you bring that sensibility to your writing?

AA: Plays have helped me to see how dialogue can animate several aspects of storytelling, from exposition to character development. I've become very particular about getting dialogue right when I'm writing fiction. Often I'm not convinced that I've really come to understand my characters until I know how they talk, not just what they say but how they say it.

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GR: Now that you are a published author, what would you tell other aspiring writers about the process?

AA: Don't be discouraged if the first, third, or fifth drafts aren't as good as you want them to be. If this is a story you really want to tell, keep writing.

GR: What writers are you influenced by, and how do those influences show themselves within Stay with Me?

AA: I've gotten so much out of reading Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz, Wole Soyinka, Elizabeth Strout, Margaret Atwood, Edward P. Jones, and Femi Osofisan.

One draft of Stay with Me was written in second person because I'd just read Drown and was so impressed by [the short story] How to Date a Brown Girl (Black Girl, White Girl, or Halfie).

GR:What are you currently reading, and what books are you recommending to your friends?

AA: I'm reading Paolo Maurensig's The Luneburg Variation. I'm really enjoying it, so I'm going very slowly because I don't want it to end. Recently I've been pushing Akhil Sharma's Family Life, Yaa Gyasi's Homegoing, and Naomi Alderman's The Power into the hands of my friends.

Read more of our exclusive author interviews on our Voice page.

Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Solomon (new)

Solomon Alelele I should very much like to read this. Though my interest is socio-polical philosophy. How do I get a copy of this book?

message 2: by Uwaoma (new)

Uwaoma Kingsley Wow great

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