Welcome Lounges AMA AMA with Francesca Ekwuyasi

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    • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
      Moderator
      Post count: 12

      Ask Me Anything

      with Francesca Ekwuyasi

      thin air winnipeg international writers festival international ecrivains logo

      For the second in our AMA series, we welcome Francesca Ekwuyasi! Francesca Ekwuyasi is a writer and multidisciplinary artist from Lagos, Nigeria. Her work explores themes of faith, family, queerness, consumption, loneliness, and belonging. Her short documentary Black + Belonging screened at the Halifax Black Film Festival, Festival International du Film Black de Montréal, and Toronto Black Film Festival.

      You may find some of her writing in Winter Tangerine Review, Brittle Paper, Transition Magazine, the Malahat Review, Visual Art News, Vol. 1 Brooklyn, and GUTS magazine. Her story “Ọrun is Heaven” was longlisted for the 2019 Journey Prize and her debut novel Butter Honey Pig Bread is forthcoming in October 2020 with Arsenal Pulp Press.

    • Faith BuchananFaith Buchanan
      Participant
      Post count: 11

      Hi Francesca, congratulations on your Giller nomination! I’m curious what the inspiration was for your this novel?

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        Hello Faith, thank you!!
        The inspiration for this novel came from reading lots while I was home in Lagos in 2013. I returned home for 7 months and took out some of my favorite books from my childhood library. I was inspired my all the stories I was reading and wanted to create my own.

      • Faith BuchananFaith Buchanan
        Participant
        Post count: 11

        Thanks for your answer! What are you reading right now? Do you have a recommendation?

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        Right now I’m reading Luster by Raven Leilani, A Taste of Sage by Yaffa S. Santos and Wayward Livea, Beautiful Experiments by Sadiya Hartman. I have so many recommendations! Ahaha I love Carmen Maria Machado’s In The Dream House, The Book of Delights by Ross Gay, Less by Andrew Seab Greer, I could go on forever ahaha

    • Marie T.Marie T.
      Participant
      Post count: 17

      Hi Francesca, thanks so much for doing this! I was curious if you had any challenges writing a story from multiple perspectives? Each character really intrigued me and flowed together so well in your book it seemed natural. But I imagine it would be challenging writing multiple perspectives! I loved the interconnectedness of family relationships in this story, it really hit close to home.

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        hello Marie, thank so much🌻I found it challenging and exciting to write from multiple perspectives. I wanted each characters experience to be filtered through their own lens, so splitting up the perspectives was a useful tool. It also allowed me to play with timelines!Much of the work to make it flow together came during the editing process!

      • Marie T.Marie T.
        Participant
        Post count: 17

        Thanks for answering, of course, the editing process! I also love the title of your book, and was curious how you came up with it?

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        Thank God for editors!!
        The title was a last minute decision, I’m very grateful it popped into my mind just in time because I much prefer it to the original title. The title made sense because it correlated with the ingredient themes through out the book.

      • Marie T.Marie T.
        Participant
        Post count: 17

        Now I’m SUPER curious about the original title! If you’re comfortable with sharing 🙂

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        I dont mind sharing!
        The original title was “A Tender Unkindness”
        I think the story outgrew the title

    • Bernice FraserBernice Fraser
      Participant
      Post count: 21

      Hi Francesca, thanks for being here! What are the perfect conditions for you to write? Do you have a specific time or ritual or schedule you like to follow?

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        Heya Bernice, thank you very much!I’m really desiring and half heartedly working on establishing a more disciplined writing routine, but for now I write when I have the time. I make sure to use the voice recorder on my phone to take notes while I’m walking – that tends to be when ideas are flowing. Pre covid times, I wrote around my work schedule, so before a shift, during lunch breaks, and afterwards if I’m not too tired.
        I hear that writing first thing in the morning is great though hahah

      • Bernice FraserBernice Fraser
        Participant
        Post count: 21

        I’ve also heard that writing is great in the morning – but who likes mornings?! Thanks for sharing, hearing that you use the voice recorder on your phone is super interesting, I’ll have to give that a try.

    • David LightfootDavid Lightfoot
      Participant
      Post count: 5

      Hi Francesca.

      I understand that food plays an important part in this novel (if the title is any indication… LOL!) What type of meal (and wine) would you recommend to go with this book? 😉

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        Ooooh!
        I would recommend drinking Zobo (hibiscus tea with ginger and lemon and cloves) and spicy noodles. These are things I love ahahah!
        But really, I think any meal you really enjoy and can eat slowly.

    • Bernice FraserBernice Fraser
      Participant
      Post count: 21

      What would be the perfect meal pairing with reading your novel? Are their flavours that you think perfectly fit the narrative?

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        Deep savoury flavors for sure!
        Slow cooked, spicy,nostalgic.
        And chocolate 🍫

      • Marie T.Marie T.
        Participant
        Post count: 17

        yummm now I’m hungry and craving chocolate lol! I have one more question. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors, especially in the beginning phases of writing? Thanks again for doing this, it’s so nice to be able to interact on here!

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        I think the only useful advice I can offer is to write!
        That’s not true, I have more ahahah: I think reading everything that piques your interest, especially things that aren’t necessarily related to the topic you’re writing on, can be a helpful way to add depth to your work. So reading is crucial.
        Trusting that you have something worthwhile to contribute, no matter how weird you think it is. And seeking and integrating useful feedback.

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        One last thing! The editing process can be the fun part, so write write write, the edit until you love it!

    • Bernice FraserBernice Fraser
      Participant
      Post count: 21

      I wanted to jump off the question about editing. Has there ever been a choice you made in your work that an editor told you to cut, but you felt that it was necessary to keep it? Is that feeling clear for you on what is non-negotiable even if an editor is saying you should cut it?

      • Francesca EkwuyasiFrancesca Ekwuyasi
        Moderator
        Post count: 12

        Absolutely!
        I have very few non-negotiables, one of them is the choice not to italicize non-English words or over-explaining colloquial terms. My editor was really great and we often came to a mutual understanding.

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