Adedamola Kolawole On Navigating The Reality Of Trauma Narratives

Adedamola Kolawole is a freelance writer and blogger. She spends her free time addressing contemporary issues on her blog, Random Thoughts of the Lady Next Door (RATHLAND), through the lenses of feminism and Christianity. She enjoys reading and writing poetry too. Her creative pieces have been published on various literary platforms, including Praxis Magazine and Agbowó.

BookRepublic: How long have you been writing fiction?

Adedamola: I’d say since 2011. It was my very first attempt, but I eventually abandoned the story because the older I grew, the more immature I found the storyline. I would later, in 2018, ghostwrite a 30,000-word fiction for a foreign client. It was at this point that I took writing a lot more seriously, and I haven’t looked back since then.

BookRepublic: You have written fiction and non-fiction, is there a genre you prefer? Why do you like short stories, in particular?

Adedamola: I don’t exactly prefer one genre over another because each one gives me a unique experience. For instance, since all I have to do is find the right expressions to narrate something that happened, I find non-fiction less taxing to write. With fiction, however, I have to channel my imaginative power and work hard at making people believe and feel emotionally invested in events that never happened. Writing fiction is creating something out of nothing. I feel like a god when I’m able to do this. So for the two genres, the processes and experiences are different, and I appreciate both. 

BookRepublic: Short stories tend to only have one central theme due to their length. Yet Twelve Hours Before Christmas has multiple themes from feminism, Christianity, complicit patriarchy, sexuality, sexual violence, self-repression, to the clash of traditions and modernity, and more. How were you able to develop and manage the story’s theme hierarchy?

Adedamola: Knowing what I wanted to talk about and not losing sight of it helped me achieve that. The entire plot is centred on a vengeful victim of sexual abuse. Every other theme stems from or provides a backdrop for this theme of abuse.

BookRepublic: While your story focuses on sexual violence, among other themes, recently, there is a simultaneous digital and physical protest against Nigeria’s rape culture. Your story portrays the protagonist gruesomely punishing everyone complicit to her assault. Was it challenging to navigate the reality of trauma narratives on rape and assault when writing Twelve Hours to Christmas?

Adedamola: No, unfortunately, it was not difficult at all. I say ‘unfortunately’ because if you were to interview all the females in Nigeria, at least 70% of them would have stories of one form of sexual assault or another to share. I, for one, have had at least three such painful experiences. This is how deeply the rape culture pervades our society. It is a sad reality, really, but I’m learning to channel my pains and emotions to something worthwhile. Twelve Hours to Christmas is one of such things.

BookRepublic: Something that stood out in your story was the intersectional complexities of sexual violence:  silence/silencing, shame, victim-blaming and scrutiny of character. Would you say you were trying to bring to life the feminist concept of intersectionality?

Adedamola: While I identify as a feminist, I did not set out to write a feminist story or to highlight any ideological concept. It would seem that intersectionality means slightly different things to different people, the common denominator being a recognition of the unique combination of social disadvantages that certain populations experience. If my readers pick out elements of intersectionality in the protagonist’s conflict viz-a-viz her mother’s shortcomings, as long as their deductions help them relate better to the story and the world around them, then I’m fine. My story is bigger than me, and I’d expect different people to interact with it and interpret it differently.

BookRepublic: Would you like to tell us what you are working on now?

Adedamola: I’m currently working towards developing Twelve Hours to Christmas into a trilogy. I feel that there are more issues to be raised, more stories to be told, and I could do more with the storyline. Twelve Hours to Christmas will, in effect, become one out of a three-part story. I haven’t gone past creating a character bible for the other parts of the trilogy, but I believe the much I’ve done is a step in the right direction. I’m also writing and sending out more poems and short fiction to literary journals.

BookRepublic: Lastly, tell us three things a writer can do to write publishable short stories?

Adedamola: Read short stories already published on reputable literary platforms, especially the ones where you hope to be published in the future. Also, polish your grammar. The less work an editor has to do on a good story, the fewer chances of it being rejected. Then there’s this important one: write, write, and write some more. The more you write, the better you become at it, and the better your chances of getting published.

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