Toni Kan in conversation with Oyinkan Braithwaite -“Hell no, I don’t have time for a new novel.”
OB: My name is Oyinkan Braithwaite and I’m the author of ‘My sister, the serial killer.’
TK: So. when did you realise you were going to be a writer.
OB: Okay, I’ve got a two part answer to that question. The first part is, I knew I wanted to be a writer from when I was about eight. Then, I think, sometime in 2015 was when I started telling people I was a writer. So you know, because I didn’t have any book and you’re always conscious of the next question that is going to come you: ‘what have you written’. but I told myself you might decide to speak faith into it like, if I really felt that this was what my purpose was, this was what I was destined to do, then I needed to claim it even when I didn’t have the book. And I had been writing. So, I think 2015 was when I started telling people that I’m a writer.
TK: Now that you’re a writer, If you are writing a short story or a novel, what is the spark, is it a word, an image, some smell, what gives you that stir?
OB: Like we said the other day, sometimes it’s a conversation. So, somebody will say something and, funny enough, after ‘My Sister The Serial Killer’ I’ve become way more of a thief than I was prior to the book. So, now somebody will say something and I’ll be like, do they know, this thing could land in my book, but they’d have forgotten by then. People say the best things and say it in the best ways. I remember, I was in an uber with this driver, and he says, ‘Don’t let them tell you that people did not die’. Like, you know, talking about the election. And it’s just lines like that make you go like, ah, this thing is perfect. So, yeah, conversations mostly but the triggers are many and you can’t really tell what it’s going to be. With ‘My Sister The Serial Killer’ it was a spider. The black widow spider.
OB: Yes. So, yeah, it could be anything.
TK: Okay, so what is your process? Do you write every day? Do you go into seclusion? Do you write in the mornings? Do you write in the nude?
OB: Men, I can’t say I haven’t written in the nude. I mean, because I’m usually in my room. So, however you find me, whatever, you know, and usually at night. I write at night and give myself word count goals. So yeah, I usually have word counts goals. I don’t write every day and it’s really bad. It’s best to write every day, but I don’t. And this year (2019) has been really busy for me. But when I get into the story, then I’m very feverish with it. And I’ll write it every day. You know? Yeah.
TK: So first book, massive success. Is there a sophomore anxiety?
OB: I mean I hear its unavoidable, so I don’t think I’m special. Yeah, definitely especially before the Booker, after the women’s prize shortlist I was experiencing, like, panic attacks and anxiety and all these things. So, I had gone through all that and by the time the Booker came I was just like, okay, this is God’s favour now. So, like, I’m not even gonna sweat it, like, whatever. Whatever happens happens, I can only be true to myself.
TK: So, will there be a new book anytime soon?
OB: Hell no, I dont have time. I’ve done two short stories, which one came out early. I think one is coming out in the next few days. So, I have been writing but I haven’t been settled enough to write a novel.