Thursday, January 7, 2021

Ambitious publishers and generous crime writers: an interview with Leye Adenle

Kia ora and haere mai, welcome to the first instalment of our 9mm interview series for the New Year - and the first in almost an entire year. 

When I published the most recent 9mm interview last January, with the remarkable Steph Cha (YOUR HOUSE WILL PAY), like everyone else I had no idea what the future held, or how much our lives would be upturned in 2020 in so many ways. I hope that all of you reading this are doing alright. Bizarrely, despite it being such a terrible year in many other ways, personally for me 2020 was a great reading year. 

There was a lot of really terrific crime writing released last year, even if we weren't able to celebrate it in the usual way with bookshop launches, festivals, and other in-person gatherings that we perhaps took for granted in the pre-COVID days. The 9mm interview series on Crime Watch also went into hiatus last year, like a lot of other things, but in 2021 we're back. 

This author interview series has now been running for over a decade (though perhaps we shouldn't really count the last year), and today marks the 213th overall edition. Thanks for reading over the years. I've had tonnes of fun chatting to some amazing writers and bringing their thoughts and stories to you. 

My plan is to to publish 40-50 new author interviews in the 9mm series this year (to crack the 250 mark, at least). You can check out the full list of of past interviewees here. Some amazing writers.

If you've got a favourite crime writer who hasn't yet been featured, let me know in the comments or by message, and I'll look to make that happen for you. Even as things with this blog may evolve moving forward, I'll continue to interview crime writers and review crime novels.

Today I'm very pleased to welcome the terrific Leye Adenle to Crime Watch. Leye is a Nigerian storyteller who comes from a family of writers, the most famous of whom was his grandfather, Oba Adeleye Adenle I, a former king of Oshogbo in South West Nigeria. Leye now lives in London - where he's been an author, actor, and agile coach (a trainer of computer geeks) - but his crime fiction is set in his homeland. His first thriller, EASY MOTION TOURIST, takes readers into a gritty world as British journalist Guy Collins stumbles into the underworld of Lagos then teams with local lawyer Amaka - a tough woman with a saintly streak - in a dangerous tale involving local gangsters and the organ trade. 

Amaka returned in WHEN TROUBLE SLEEPS, and Adenle was shortlisted for a CWA Dagger for his short story in the SUNSHINE NOIR anthology. He has written many short stories, and enjoys telling stories across a variety of genres including crime, thrillers, sci-fi and fantasy. He has also written satirical pieces under other names, his writing has appeared in publications such as the Big Issue, and he has written and recorded pieces for BBC Radio 4 and BBC World Service.

But for now, Leye Adenle becomes the latest author to stare down the barrel of 9mm. 


1. Who is your favourite recurring crime fiction hero/detective?
James Patterson's Alex Cross. I remember reading ALONG CAME A SPIDER and going back several times to check that the hero was black and the author was white. Such is the power of representation, and sadly, the dearth of representation in most literature for people or are not white male hunk, genius, etc. Alex Cross showed me what is possible and encouraged me to create a black female kickass protagonist. 

2. What was the very first book you remember reading and really loving, and why?
Amos Tutuola's THE PALM-WINE DRINKARD deliberately written in non-grammatical English to, in my opinion, retain the poetry of the author's native tongue of Yoruba. I first read it in primary school, then I returned to it several years later. It's a supernatural story that's part sci-fi, part fantasy, and part magical realism. 

3. Before your debut crime novel, what else had you written (if anything) - unpublished manuscripts, short stories, articles?
My first complete manuscript was titled Alarinka (Wanderer), written in longhand and in the genre of Amos Tutuol's writing. Sadly, I lost the entire manuscript when my mum handed it to her secretary to type and save on a computer diskette. 

4. Outside of writing, touring and promotional commitments, what do you really like to do, leisure and activity-wise?
Is there anything else worth doing? 

5. What is one thing that visitors to your hometown should do, that isn't in the tourist brochures, or perhaps they wouldn’t initially consider? 
My hometown of Osogbo in South West Nigeria is home to a world heritage centre, the Osun-Osogbo Sacred Grove, and as such there is little about the ancient town that won't be known to visiting foreigners.  The annual Osun festival attracts visitors from around the globe. 

6. If your life was a movie, which actor could you see playing you?
I'm not sure there's anyone who can play me :-)

7. Of your writings, which is your favourite or particularly special, and why?
THE BEAUTIFUL SIDE OF THE MOON is a sci-fi, fantasy, thriller that I wrote because my young niece and nephew wanted to read my  debut crime thriller which at the time was not age appropriate for them. It was a return to my love for Amos Tutuola's writing and I had loads of fun writing it. 

8. What was your initial reaction, and how did you celebrate, when you were first accepted for publication? Or when you first saw your debut story in book form on a bookseller’s shelf?
The first time I saw my debut book in a bookshop, it was displayed alongside authors I'd read and respected for a long time. I was there in the middle of the bookshop, looking at my book in great company, and I was surrounded by strangers who had no idea or could care less who I was or how I was feeling the best feeling I'd ever felt in my life till then. It's a one in a lifetime feeling. Literarily. 

9. What is the strangest or most unusual experience you have had at a book signing, author event, or literary festival?
At Quais Du Polar festival in Lyon in 2016, I was next to Deom Meyer in the large singing hall. My French publisher had ambitiously brought 250 copies of my debut novel to the festival. A long line of Deon Meyer's French fans snaked around the edges of the hall. Each time he signed a book, he told the person about me, calling me his brother and telling them how great my book was. We had only met that afternoon. I sold all 250 copies. Crime writers are just the best!

Thank you Leye. We appreciate you chatting to Crime Watch

You can find out more about Leye Adenle and his storytelling at his website, or by following him on Twitter. 

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