BookLife Talks with Dan Agbeje
A sponsored Q&A with the author of 'My Angel the Devil'
Growing up in Nigeria inspired author Dan Agbeje’s first book, My Angel the Devil, a tale about a young woman whose future is forever changed when fanatical violence sweeps through her region
My Angel the Devil is your debut work. What did you find most difficult about creating it and how did you overcome that?The most difficult aspect of writing was getting rid of everything else so I could visualize the world I wanted to create. The book was written at a difficult time of my life, so it was a way to learn perseverance.
To what extent do you draw from real life for your characters and settings?
A few of my characters and some situations were pulled out of real-life experiences. For example, what happens in Fatima’s school and the rise of local vigilante groups has a real-life parallel in the Nigerian town of Madagali, which also experienced radicalization before the high-profile kidnapping of the Chibok high school girls by Boko Haram in 2014. It was my intention to provide a raw and honest view of culture.
How do you think this book is particularly relevant now?Without going too deeply into the book, it is relevant on several levels, including sexuality, religion, radicalization, and gender. These are strong subjects, not just for the Nigerian community but also for the world in general. Although the book is set in 2012, it is unfortunate that some things in it still happen. It is also fortunate that people continue to fight those things as hard as ever.
If you could pick anyone to give this book to, who would it be and why? What would you hope they took away from it?
This may sound political, but I would say Australia’s minister for home affairs, Peter Dutton, or Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison. They seem to have this black-and-white view of why people make the unimaginable decision to become refugees. My hope is that by reading the book, their imagination will create a clear picture of what is really out there. Dropping my political hat, I can’t wait for my daughter to be old enough to read it.
Do you plan to do more writing?
Of course! I am currently editing my next book. It is a work of historical fiction set in 14th-century sub-Saharan Africa.