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The Good Book Appreciation Society

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Maire Fisher interviews Yewande Omotoso on GBAS

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This evening, over on The Good Book Appreciation Society, a secret book club on FB with over 5500 members (friend Bea Reader on FB to join the club) author Máire Fisher interviewed Yewande Omotoso, about her highly acclaimed new novel, The Woman Next Door.

Here is an exerpt of that interview, to read the rest of it simply join The Good Book Appreciation Society by friending Bea Reader on FB.

Máire Fisher Okay, I’ll start by saying how much I enjoyed reading The Woman Next Door. I swallowed it whole one afternoon and have since enjoyed going back to it more thoughtfully. That’s the sign of a good book for me, one that happily bears rereading.
It’s such a beautifully constructed book. With that in mind, and of course, looking at your life as an architect, do you think it’s accurate to draw a comparison between designing a house and creating a story?

Yewande Omotoso Thank you. Means something to hear that. We’re doing a few translations so I have vey keen editors and readers combing through the book and it keeps me on my toes. I always wonder – can the book withstand all this?!! In terms of the arch-writing comparison…
My favourite is to use the various lexicons as metaphors. Yes, foundations, scaffolding, drafting and so on.

Máire Fisher Its foundations are solid …

Máire Fisher How much planning goes into your stories when you write them, or is it a more organic process?

Yewande Omotoso Planning wise very little initially
Initially it’s a lot of feeling the thing out. Wondering what the heck it is
That can take a draft or 3. And then the planning does come in eventually

Máire Fisher I like the idea of feeling it out. Getting to know the people you’re going to put inside the house …

Yewande Omotoso Exactly. It can be scary though.
A lot of stuff NEVER makes it to the book!

Máire Fisher Once a building has been constructed, bricks in place and mortar set, we tend to think of it as being set in stone. And yet, like life, nothing ever really is. Walls can come tumbling down, renovations can change the character of a building completely
it might not make it, but I think a shadow of what has been written stays behind.

Yewande Omotoso Sure. I see shadows all the time. I see the lines that got cut!!! he he

Máire Fisher Even the people who live in a place can make it into something different, cause it to lose its perceived value to us. So continuing with the idea of designing a book, I loved what you did by putting Hortensia into the very first home that Marion designed.
Was this something you’d thought of from the very first moment of writing – or was having Hortensia set up home in the house Marion saw as being hers more of a ‘what if’ moment in the story?

Yewande Omotoso Yes! That idea arrived one day! Definitely not from the beginning. I begin withvey VERY tenuous strands I confess. I keep writing and the story finds me at some point
I begin with character, let me say that

Máire Fisher Writing towards story.

Yewande Omotoso Yes, keep writing till the story appears.
(There must be easier ways!!!!!!!!)

Máire Fisher So Hortensia and Marion were quite strong from the get go?

Yewande Omotoso I always begin wwith quite clear characters, yes. I started with Hortensia

Máire Fisher The whole idea of writing “what you know” bears looking at as far as both Bomboy and The Woman Next Door are concerned. How can you ‘know’ a character as lost and lonely as Leke in Bomboy? How are you able to step into the white narrow (-minded) shoes of Marion, or into the irritable, irascible life of Hortensia?

to read the rest of this interview simply join The Good Book Apprecation Society by friending Bea Reader on Facebook, or email

Máire Fisher is a freelance writer and editor. She also runs creative writing workshops and is a regular member of a writing retreat group that meets at the Grail in Kleinmond. Her work has appeared in Twist, Just Keep Breathing, South African Writing, A Woman Sits Down to Write, Women Flashing and Writing the Self. Several of her poems and short pieces of fiction have been published online. Maire lives in Fish Hoek with her husband, Rob, and her two sons Daniel and Kieran. Birdseye is her first novel, it comes highly recommended (plus I really LOVED it) and you will find it right here.


AND, Yewande Omotoso was born in Barbados. She grew up in Nigeria and moved to South Africa in 1992. Yewande trained as an architect and is a designer, freelance writer, poet and novelist. After completing a Masters degree in Creative Writing, her debut novel Bom Boy was published in 2011 by Modjaji Books. It won the 2012 South African Literary Award for First-Time Published Author, was shortlisted for the 2012 Sunday Times Fiction Prize in South Africa as well as the M-Net Literary Awards 2012, and was the runner-up for the 2013 Etisalat Prize for Literature.


And you can find this phenomenal book that is sure to sweep all the prizes next year, right here.



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