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How visit to Jabi Lake birthed my novel – Yeside Adesiyun

Bookshelf: What prompted the title of your novel, ‘Murder at Jabi Lake’? Yeside Adesiyun: During my first visit to Abuja, my brother took me to…

Bookshelf: What prompted the title of your novel, ‘Murder at Jabi Lake’?
Yeside Adesiyun: During my first visit to Abuja, my brother took me to Jabi Lake. I thought it very beautiful at the time. I went back a couple of times by myself and I would sit and just imagine things happening around me. I got very excited about the thoughts running through my head and decided to write it down.

Bookshelf: Why murder, being that Jabi Lake is known for relaxation, exercise and sporting activities?
Adesiyun: On one of my visits, the place was very quiet and with very few people around. In fact, I got a little spooked just sitting by myself. I remember seeing a young man just walking around and I thought “what if he is a disturbed person?” I saw a few people exercising and the thoughts just kept flowing and I started building up images in my head. Even though the thoughts were about murder, it was relaxing building up the story in my head. I have always had an overactive imagination, and for me, this was putting it to good use.

Bookshelf: How challenging was it, painting a murder scene? What did it take to make it believable?
Adesiyun: With imagination, you can create a different world. But the real challenge was in adapting to the Nigerian setting. I had read quite a number of novels over the years about crime, serial killing and so on, so I was able to create the story and write it down. ‘Murder at Jabi Lake’ is about a police officer who during his daily exercise routine around the lake discovered a mutilated body of a woman. Due to the level of the body’s mutilation, the story becomes news and every media outlet talked about it. This, and other reasons, incensed the killer to kill another lady and this created fear in the city. I tried to create what I think the response of the Nigeria Police Force would be when handling the case. This was the challenge for me. I had to do more research on the capability of the police force as I did not want to write a story that readers would say “this is not possible in Nigeria”.
The story is woven around the police officer and a journalist who created a ‘show’ around the happenings. It is a story about serial killing in Nigeria with a touch of romance. I love to read romance novels and I thought it would appeal to the senses of young readers and adults who are looking for some light reading.
After creating the story in my head, I tried to think of a positive message that the story can send out and so I told the story of the police force in good light. Very few people believe that ‘the police is your friend’. I wanted to appeal to the emotions of the Nigerian reader that the police can be your friend.

Bookshelf: Who are your mentors in the crime fiction genre?
Adesiyun: I would not say I have mentors in this genre, but one author appeals to me, and that is Frank Peretti, an author of Christian fiction. I read more of historical and contemporary romance stories, but I find myself writing fiction from different genres.

Bookshelf: How did you start writing, generally?
Adesiyun: I used to go through my mother’s carton of books when I was home from boarding house and read the novels she had stashed away. Also, in between doing homework and chores, I would read novels and magazines I borrowed from friends at my summer lessons. During one long holiday, my supply of novels and magazines got exhausted and I decided to write some stories. I would write very short stories at the back of my Olympic Exercise book and then hide it at the bottom of a drawer used to store old schoolbooks and junks set for incineration. On one occasion, a cousin of mine discovered one of the exercise books and took it with her to her holiday classes to read and share with her friends. They liked it. Also, while growing up, I would record my daily activities in a diary and when I get bored I go back to read them. I found them interesting and calming.

Bookshelf: At what point did you take writing seriously?
Adesiyun: I did not take my writing seriously until I was carrying out my Youth Service in 2004. It was then I decided to explore my talent as a writer. My first book is titled Nadia: Battles and hopes.

Bookshelf: How challenging was it getting your first book published?
Adesiyun: It was very challenging. I realised quickly that having a good story does not give you more advantage to getting a good publisher in Nigeria. After efforts to get publishers of my choice failed, with support from my husband and family, I was able to get it published eventually. It took me about five years to write and three years to get it published.

Bookshelf: How do you view Nigeria’s publishing scene?
Adesiyun: I think that it is still evolving into what it should be, but as with many things in this country, we are far from achieving it.

Bookshelf: What are you working on at the moment?
Adesiyun: I have many fiction stories fighting for my attention, but I am currently working on a non-fictional self-help book.

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