INTERVIEW | Yejide Kilanko, author of Daughters Who Walk This Path

INTERVIEW | Yejide Kilanko, author of Daughters Who Walk This Path

author_pictureyejide_kilanko2013Yejide, tell us about yourself.

I was born in Ibadan, a sprawling university city in south-western Nigeria. My initial plan was to become a lawyer, so my first Bachelors degree was in Political Science.

In the year 2000, after my big, loud, African wedding, I joined my husband in Laurel, Maryland and stayed home to raise our children. We moved to Ontario, Canada in 2004 and I went back to university to study Social Work. Since 2009, I’ve worked as a child protection worker, a crisis counselor and a long-term therapist in children’s mental health.

How do you find time to connect with God?

I’ve come to realize that I can pray to God at any time during my day and I do so. I also mediate on daily devotional scriptures. Family bible reading and prayer times are important in our home.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?

Chika Unigwe, Francine Rivers, Gillian Flynn, Khaled Hosseni, Lawrence Hill.

Tell us about your journey to publication.

My novel began life as a short poem I wrote in June 2009. That poem was titled Silence Speaks.

Over the course of eight months, the novel grew from scribbles of random thoughts to a manuscript I shared with a couple of friends. Their encouraging words spurred me on and a year later, I had a complete manuscript.

On August 16, 2010, I sent out query letters to literary agents in the United States. The same day, I received a request for a full manuscript. Exactly one week later, I had an offer of representation from one of the agents I had queried. We spent about eight months polishing the manuscript.

In April 2011, within a week of our submission to publishing houses in Canada, I received a publishing offer from Penguin Canada. Daughters Who Walk This Path was published in Canada (2012) and in the USA (2013).

Daughters Who Walk This PathTell us about your current book, Daughters Who Walk This Path?

Set in my hometown of Ibadan, Nigeria, Daughters Who Walk This Path, follows the lives of two female cousins who both experienced child sexual abuse. One by a family member and the one by a trusted family friend. It explores the silence that often follows a disclosure particularly in a culture where such things are not discussed. It also highlights the importance of having positive role models and the strength women have.

How did you come up with ideas for this book?

I was struggling with the trauma of having to hear stories of child sexual abuse at work and I thought writing the novel would help me process some of those feelings. It’s why I’ve always said in the beginning, I wrote the novel for me.

Apart from hoping it would help me, I also hoped the book would help initiate important conversations about child sexual abuse, about how we need to prepare children on the dangers they can and often encounter right in their own homes.

What valuable lessons do you want readers to learn from your book?

A lot of shaming and blaming from family, friends and the relevant authorities happens when people make disclosures about sexual abuse/assault which is why some people don’t say anything. It’s very important for anyone who has been violated this way to know it was not their fault. Nothing anyone does makes them deserving of such violation. I also want readers to know life can still be beautiful even after something really horrific happens to us.

What’s next for you?

My second novel, A Deep and Distant Shore, will be published by Penguin Canada winter, 2015. I’m currently plotting my third adult novel and working on my first middle-grade children’s book.

Please tell us where we can connect with you online.