Spotlight on Yejide Kilanko
I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, as the first of five children. I attended Federal Girls’ Government College, Onitsha and studied Political Science at the University of Ibadan. In the year 2000, I joined my husband in the United States and stayed home to raise our children. After we moved to Canada in 2004, I went back to university and got my social work degrees. My day job is as a long-term therapist in children’s mental health.
Q: Let’s go to how it all started. When did you discover the writer in you?
I was about 12 years old when I started writing. I’m an emotional person and I quickly found out it was the best way for me to express myself.
Q: What inspired you to write?
I started reading quite early and I fell in love with words.
Q: How did you start writing, was it just poems, short stories or books? What did you first write?
Q: At the beginning did you dream of your write up being published?
No, I didn’t. My poems are mainly autobiographical and I wasn’t interested in sharing that part of me.
Q: How about folks and friends, any support? Did they believe in this writer and her big dreamer of being a published author?
I had tremendous support from my friends and family. Their encouragement made it easier for me to take the leap of faith when it came to exploring my publishing options.
Q: what were the challenges you faced at the beginning and how did you manage them?
Finding a literary agent to represent me was the first challenge I faced. I was very fortunate to find a top-notch, New York agent within a week of sending out queries. We ended up working on the manuscript for another eight months before we submitted it to Penguin Canada. I found those months challenging because it was my first manuscript and I still had a lot to learn with regards to the craft of writing. My agent’s belief in the novel really helped when I had doubts about my abilities.
Q: what is the biggest challenge you have faced as a person and how did you overcome it.
June 2013, I received a diagnosis of colon cancer and I had to go through surgery and chemotherapy. As a Christian, I know that I survived the ordeal only by the grace of God.
I don’t have any regrets. With my debut novel, Daughters Who Walk This Path, soon to be published in five countries, I’ve been very blessed.
Q: What kind of books do you write?
Daughters Who Walk This Path is considered commercial /women’s fiction. My second novel, A Deep and Distant Shore, coming out winter 2015, also falls under this umbrella. I’m currently working on a children’s book and a crime fiction novel. I love to challenge myself and I’m very excited about the possibilities with these books.
Q: As a mother, how do you combine writing, which of course needs some peace and quiet with taking care of your children with their noise and all?
Fortunately, I can write in any setting. I usually play music while I write so I’m not disturbed by noise. For those times when I do need silence, I write late at night.
Q: Would you want your kids to also take up creative writing?
If they choose to, yes. My oldest is currently working on her first novel and I can’t wait to read it when she’s ready to share.
Q: If you could meet one creative icon who will it be and why?
I’ll love to meet Buchi Emecheta. I read her novel, The Joys of Motherhood as a teenage girl struggling with gender expectations. It definitely helped to shape the woman I’ve become.
Q: What the best book you have ever read?
I don’t have one favorite book since a book’s impact on me is often shaped by my circumstances. I have best books for the different seasons of my life.
Q: How lucrative would you say creative writing is?
It’s not as lucrative as people think. Most traditionally published authors earn royalties between 7 to 15% per book and most books don’t sell more than 100 copies. If you have a literary agent, they also earn 15% of whatever you make. With self-publishing, writers are making more money but very few writers are able to make a living from their work.
Q: As a published author, what words do you have for those aspiring to be like you?
Read widely. Writing truly is rewriting, lots of rewriting, so work hard on your craft. Learn the grammar rules. Find honest people to critique your work. Take full advantage of opportunities when they come your way. Be professional. Always, put your best work forward. Finally, believe in yourself and don’t give up.
Q: Is your book available online? Where can we find it?
Q: With the increased use of the internet and electronic books do you think there is still a future for printed books
Definitely. Even though I own an e-reader, I still love the feel and smell of print books. Based on my discussions with other readers, I know there are many people who feel the same way.
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