A Darkly Comic Debut About A Killer, and Her Loyal Sister

Posted by Goodreads on November 10, 2018
In Oyinkan Braithwaite's literary satire–meets–slasher debut novel, My Sister, the Serial Killer, a Nigerian woman finds herself inconvenienced by her beautiful younger sister's homicidal habits. Luckily, introverted nurse Korede is not only a reliable sibling, but she also is skilled in cleaning up blood and hauling dead bodies, and she coaches her sister on how to appear as though she's in mourning for the men she's killed.

The Nigerian writer talked to Goodreads about her lifelong interest in "black widow" tales and why she's influenced by Japanese anime.

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Goodreads: Summarize your book for readers.

Oyinkan Braithwaite: This is a story about two women—one who is beautiful and the other who is not. One who longs for one man, whilst the other draws men like moths to a flame. One who nurses people back to life, whilst the other takes life at will.

It is a story about sisters. Korede loves her sister and is loyal to her, but perhaps one's loyalty can only go so far.

Goodreads: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you became a writer.

OB: I cannot pinpoint when exactly I fell in love with the written word. I have been obsessed with poetry and stories for as long as I can remember. I was the girl who would take two books to a birthday party, in case she finished the first one before it was time to head home.

I started writing stories in primary school—tragedies, as you do. Stories about girls committing suicide or being committed into mental hospitals. In 2007, I self-published an anthology of poetry, and I later went on to study Creative Writing and Law as my degree. When I graduated, my first job was as an editor. Writing is really all I have ever wanted to do. I didn't have a "plan B." So, as you can imagine, every day is my birthday right now.

GR: What sparked the idea for your novel? And what was your writing process for My Sister, the Serial Killer?

OB: I have always been fascinated with the concept of the "black widow." In 2007, I wrote a poem titled "Black Widow Spider." And then I continued to write about women obliterating men. So writing My Sister, the Serial Killer was relatively easy, since I had basically been rehashing a similar plot over and over for years.

Another thing that allowed the writing process to be smooth for me was writing each new chapter in a separate Word document, allowing myself the freedom to flow in whatever direction I desired at the time.

GR: Your novel has been described as a sly, brutally hilarious spin on that "black widow" narrative (a.k.a. ruthless women who destroy men). Talk about the tone and twists of your debut.

OB: Nigeria is a funny country, and it is a duplicitous country. And I think the tone of the novel unfolded organically because of that. Here, the tragic and the ridiculous often go hand in hand, and then everyone just continues with their day. I didn't set out intending for it to be a funny story; it came as a bit of a surprise to me that people found it funny…but I knew I was writing something that was dark, and light. So maybe comedy is where darkness and lightness meet.

As for the twist, I wasn't aware of how it was going to end until I was more than halfway done with the first draft; and then I just knew what would make sense for Korede.

GR: What are some of your favorite thrillers, and did you find yourself influenced by any particular authors or books?

OB: I am a huge fan of Minette Walters, though the writers I am most influenced by tend to be fantasy writers—Anne Rice, Robin Hobb. Of late, however, I think my writing has been most affected by anime [Japanese animation]. They have such a unique storytelling style, and I would find myself asking questions like, How are they making me cry right now? This whole thing is ridiculous. How is it working?

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

OB: I am currently reading Eve of Man by Giovanna and Tom Fletcher.

I like to recommend books to people based on what genre they like…so of the books I have read in the past year:

If you liked The Hunger Games, read Blood Red Road.

If you like fantasy, read The Name of the Wind.

If you like drama, read Stay with Me.

If you like dry humor, read Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine.

GR: What's next for you? Any preview you can give readers?

OB: I am working on a novel at the moment, but at this juncture I have no idea what the plot is. All I have is a character, and so far I like her personality, which I think is a good sign. She is rude and bold, and hopefully she will survive my unfortunate habit of jumping from story to story.

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Baker I am going to have to read My Sister, The Serial Killer. If it happens to have a funny slant to it then that makes it all the more desirable to me.
Thanks for sharing

message 2: by Helentha (new)

Helentha Clarence OMG ... i really like it,,so from now on iam going to to read lots of story about my sisiter

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