Deborah Falaye is a Nigerian Canadian young adult author. She grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, where she spent her time devouring African literature, pestering her grandma for folktales, and tricking her grandfather into watching Passions every night.
When she’s not writing about fierce Black girls with bad-ass magic, she can be found obsessing over all things reality TV. Deborah currently lives in Toronto with her husband and their partner-in-crime yorkie, Major. Blood Scion was her first novel. The second novel in this series, War Widow, will be published in June 2023.
Author Q&A with Deborah Falaye
Where do you find the inspiration for your books?
My Yoruba culture was the first spark of inspiration. I grew up listening to stories about the Orisha gods and goddesses from my grandmother, and I carried that fascination with me for years. So when I started drafting Blood Scion in 2012, I knew immediately that I wanted to ground it in that same culture and mythology, especially at a time when there weren’t any stories inspired by non-western mythology and settings. The second inspiration came in 2014, when hundreds of young girls were abducted from a school in Nigeria, which sparked the global hashtag campaign known as #BringBackOurGirls. It was truly heart breaking for me to learn about the horrors these girls endured, and for months after that, I started researching about child soldiers and the war on children—all of which inspired the world and conflict within Blood Scion.
What were your favourite books when you were a kid? As a young reader, did you see yourself in the books you read?
I grew up devouring stories by Wole Soyinka, Chinua Achebe, and really any African literature I could get my hands on. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe was the first book I read that grounded me in a world much like my own, and it would later become the first book that influenced much of my own writing—especially with how the themes of colonization and its impact on culture and identity were explored. These books not only offered me the kind of escape I craved as a child, they also inspired me to want to create stories of my own.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned when creating your books?
The most surprising thing I’ve learned in traditional publishing has to be how many rounds of editing a book goes through before it reaches its readers. With Blood Scion specifically, I went through two rounds of developmental edits, then a round of copy editing, several pass pages and proof reading, and then a final read through—all of this before the book went into printing. I will say the final stages were the most fun because at that point, you’re already starting to see what your story looks like in book form.
What is a challenge you have faced as a writer?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced as a writer is speed. It took me a long time to accept the fact that I’m actually just a slow writer and allow myself to be okay with that knowledge. In the past, I would always compare myself to writers who were churning out 2000 words a day, and every time I didn’t hit that word count, I’d feel so defeated. Truth is the comparison game is the worst thing you can do to yourself as a writer because not only does it put a strain on your work ethic, it also severely impacts your productivity. I learned this lesson too late, and Blood Scion suffered for it in the beginning. But once I overcame that, the writing process definitely went a lot smoother.
What advice do you have for kids who are interested in writing?
One of the best pieces of advice I ever received was not to be afraid to follow my dreams. I know there’s a lot of uncertainty around writing, especially for young teenagers, and often times, the fear of not making it can be so overwhelming for most people that it deters them from writing. I struggled with this a lot in the beginning, but I think that is where perseverance comes into play. Keep going, write that story, read widely, and hone your craft, because you never know where your journey will take you.