Wasafiri Wonders: Oyinkan Braithwaite
‘It is a tale of two sisters – one who murders men and the other who is forced to clean up after her.’
Ever wondered what your favourite author’s first drafts look like? Or which book they love that nobody’s heard of? Wasafiri Wonders is a series that asks these questions for you.
Oyinkan Braithwaite is an author and Kingston University graduate. Her writing has been shortlisted for the Commonwealth Short Story Prize and her debut novel, My Sister, The Serial Killer, has been longlisted for The Women’s Prize for Fiction.
1. Describe your first drafts in one sentence.
Sparse with a sprinkle of amnesia.
2. Tell us about your writing rituals.
I like to write lying down, preferably at night.
3. What themes do you gravitate towards and why?
All things related to women, I suppose because I’m a woman. I also like to see what people do when they are cornered, to try to peel back who a person is when they have been stripped of everything.
4. Tell us about your newest work.
My Sister, the Serial Killer is a tale about two sisters and the men that lose their lives in the course of their journey to self-discovery. Perhaps that is the story I should have written. But I suppose mine is not too far off. It is a tale of two sisters – one who murders men and the other who is forced to clean up after her.
5. What is the best writing advice you’ve ever received?
I am a little obsessed with writing advice that I find online or in books. I have many books on writing, so it is hard to pick just one nugget. One of my favourites is: ‘To gain your own voice, you have to forget about having it heard’ – Allen Ginsburg
6. What is your favourite book or pamphlet published in the past year and why?
The Turn of Midnight by Minette Walters. It has everything, except perhaps fantasy, but I can forgive it that. It is a big book but you don’t realise it as you read. And it did justice to its predecessor.
7. What is a classic you recently read for the first time?
Beloved by Toni Morrison. I am actually not entirely sure if it is the first time. I have watched the movie and I may have read the book. In fact, I think I did it at school…my memory fails me. But for what it is worth. I am reading it again.
8. What is a book or pamphlet you love that no one else has heard of?
Popcorn by Ben Elton. I believe this book was popular at some point, and it may still be… but I haven’t ever heard the novel brought up in conversation.
9. If your newest work were a music album, what would it be and how would it sound?
I believe it would share the same name as the novel. And it would be a mix of afro-beats, pop and soul.
10. Which books or authors are relevant reads in our political climate —or one you’d recommend to current world leaders?
Relevant reads – Naomi Alderman’s, The Power. Ooo. I would give my book to Buhari… just because. Also, perhaps because I am not entirely sure how modern he is. I would also give him Becoming Nigerian by Elnathan John.
Oyinkan Braithwaite’s My Sister, The Serial Killer is published in Great Britain by Atlantic Books. It is available to purchase now.