Leye Adenle talked sex and writing as the second participant at the Afrolit Sans Frontieres Virtual Literary Festival on March 23, 2020.
The Afrolit Sans Frontiers Virtual Literary Festival is an initiative from writers of African origin curated by Zukiswa Wanner. 16 writers from 10 African countries are sharing their work from 15 different cities in English, French, Lingala, and Portuguese to a global virtual audience over eight days.
After the first session with Richard Ali Mutu, it was the turn of crime fiction writer Leye Adenle to shine from his London base. He was doing his first-ever Instagram Live and it was evident as he fiddled with his device until he figured it out. We counted an average of around thirty people watching the stream throughout the session.
He started his session by wishing a happy birthday to Ama Ata Aidoo who was celebrating her 80th today. (Happy birthday ama Ata. May you have many many more.) He followed this with a reading from his debut novel Easy Motion Tourist to a couple of dozen or so watching around the world. It was a racy session from the Nigerian writer we were watching; hopefully, no minors were following proceedings.
With the reading done and dusted, the interactions begun with Leye fielding questions like how he writes a sex scene which he joked was by watching Pornhub. He then became more serious explaining that it was a process that involved editors and agents and everyone in the writing chain. He also ensured that he wrote his scenes from the side of the character who is involved. On being asked whether he felt that there was a need for more sex scenes in African writing he stated that he believed that this was so. He felt that more of this type of work was needed which was why he loved Lives of Great Men (by Chike Frankie Edozien) and Seasons of Crimson Blossom (by Abubakar Adam Ibrahim).
He dealt with more of these questions until he requested for some that weren’t sex-related as he was not an expert on this topic. A watcher asked the writer ‘what he was currently reading’ and he answered, “Minna Salami’s Sensuous Knowledge.” Go figure.
He didn’t speak about sex only of course. He spoke about the writing technique extolling a writer who wanted to be better at the craft to read, read, read, and read. He also explained that he liked having many different types of writers in his books to make them a better experience for the reader. On his own work, the third in the Amaka series (the first two being Easy Motion Tourist and When Trouble Sleeps) was already at the publishers and he was waiting to get a print date. He is also working on a new book project.
On the worst part of being a published writer, he didn’t like the fact that now that he had a book he suddenly became an authority of everything other than the subject that he wrote the book on. He also warned writers to be keen on the contracts that they get into before signing out their manuscripts as there were some less than stellar publishers out there.