Sade Adeniran is a Nigerian novelist, whose novel, Imagine This won the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize, best first book Africa.
Geosi Reads: I recently read from your site about your short film ‘More Cake’. Why this film at this point in time? Are you gradually drifting away from writing fiction to film-making?
Sade Adeniran: No I’m not drifting away from writing fiction I’ve still got some things I’m working on. I’m expanding my horizons by using a different medium to tell my stories. I’m currently in the throes of finishing the screenplay for Imagine This. It will be my first feature and since I had never directed a film before, I decided to start with a short film to ease my way into filmmaking. I figured that it would be better to make all my rookie mistakes on More Cake rather than on Imagine This.
Geosi Reads: Could you compare the physical act of writing fiction to that of filmmaking?
Sade Adeniran: The physical act is the same, you sit at your desk with a pen and paper, or at your computer if that is how you compose, and you tell your story by juxtaposing words on a page. Joking aside, writing a screenplay is different in the sense that when you write fiction you’re omniscient, you can tell your reader what your characters are thinking and feeling. With a screenplay, there is no such thing as an internal world; you have to externalize those inner thoughts and feelings for your audience. As a writer director, my work doesn’t stop with the screenplay. When I write, it’s just the blank page and me. As a director, I draw on the skills of others, filmmaking is a collaborative effort and finding the right people to help you realize your vision is the key to making a great film.
Geosi Reads: I understand your film was based on your short story ‘Martha Mauden & Co.’. Do you achieve the same effect when fiction is turned into film?
Sade Adeniran: I don’t believe film achieves the same effect as a novel or a short story, they are different mediums and each has a different relationship with their characters. Novels are verbal and rely on words to convey meaning while films are visual and rely on images. So although both forms are telling the same narrative, it will not result in an identical execution of the same story.
Geosi Reads: In your first book, ‘Imagine This’, your narrator Lola kept a diary at a very young age. Do you keep a diary?
Sade Adeniran: Nope and I wish I did, but I can’t even keep my blog, Twitter or Facebook up to date. I go months sometimes without posting anything, but I’m trying to change that and share more.
Geosi Reads: Why did you decide to choose the diary form for your debut novel?
Sade Adeniran: It was something that happened organically. The first draft was written in 3rd person and it was a different story altogether. It was about a woman who wanted revenge after being treated shabbily by her boss. I was a hundred pages in before I realized the only worthwhile bits to keep were her journal entries, Lola’s back-story. So I ditched everything, but kept the journal entries, which told the story of her childhood. I found her coming of age saga much more interesting than the revenge quest she was on.
Geosi reads: Can I ask a technical question? Is Omolola Olufunke Olufunmilayo Ogunwole Sade Adeniran?
Sade Adeniran: Yes and no. Yes because I did go back as a child to live in Nigeria, so Lola’s life parallels mine in that way. But no because what happens to Lola in Imagine This, is her story and it is fictional.
Geosi Reads: Besides fiction, are there other genres of literature you might want to attempt?
Sade Adeniran: I did try poetry once, but I’m a very bad poet and I know I am. One of these days I might feel brave and post some of the atrocities I have written. I sometimes go through my notebooks and I wince, not everything I write should ever be published or see the light of day.
Geosi Reads: You first self-published Imagine This. Would you recommend this route to budding writers?
Sade Adeniran: For sure, things are quite different now. When I self-published Imagine This there was still a stigma attached to the word self-publishing. During the time I was doing PR to raise awareness, I naively called some newspapers to try and get reviews. Needless to say they were not very nice when I told them I was a new author who had just self-published her debut novel. Those conversations took place over the phone and I was completely crushed, but like anything you have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and carry on moving. One incident that stands out the most for me was when I crashed an editors dinner during the London Book Fair, this was just after I had won the Commonwealth Writer’s prize. Anyway, I was sitting at a table with this lady and we started chatting, you know small talk, she asked me which house I worked for and I told her I was a writer and had just self-published my book. The moment she heard the words self-published I saw the interest die in her eyes and I became someone she didn’t want to speak to. Unfortunately I was hemmed in and couldn’t actually make a getaway and the ground refused to open up and swallow me whole. So I sat there, grinned and kept on putting food in my mouth, while she studiously ignored me for the rest of the meal. To cut a long story short, someone came to our table to congratulate me on winning the prize and I swear I never saw someone’s head swivel so fast, except in exorcist. The same woman who had spent the entire dinner ignoring me became this garrulous gushing entity. That’s how it was five years ago, but the proliferation of Ebooks and the success of selfpublished authors have now made it acceptable. Traditional publishers and reviewers no longer sneer at self-published authors because readers are buying these books in the millions. However, I would highly recommend that anyone embarking on the journey of self-publishing, should hire professionals to help. You need an editor, a proofreader, a graphic designer and a PR person. The first two people are essential, if you’ve got the skillset of the last two, then you can save yourself some money by doing the graphic design and PR yourself. But please pay for a good editor and a proofreader.
Geosi Reads: Having lived in the United Kingdom for a long while, do you follow literary activities back in Nigeria?
Sade Adeniran: I try to, I follow some authors on twitter, but I’m don’t plug in as regularly as I should.
Geosi Reads: Who gave you the permission to write?
Sade Adeniran: That is such a weird question; it’s a bit like saying who gave you permission to breathe? The only way I can think to answer that is that I write because I am ME.