- Legit.ng’s fashion and lifestyle editor, Kumashe Yaakugh, finally took her love for writing up a notch by publishing her first novella, While She Slept
- The 30-year-old writer from Benue state got inspired to finally tell a story that touched on her fellow Tiv people
- In this exclusive interview with Legit.ng’s Taiwo Owolawi, Kumashe talks on her background, how books saved her life, and more
Nigerian writer and Legit.ng’s top fashion and lifestyle editor, Kumashe Yaakugh, recently released her first ever hard copies of her published work, While She Slept, and has taken us on a journey on how it all started.
The budding writer, while speaking during an exclusive interview with Legit.ng’s Taiwo Owolawi, explained how her journey to becoming a published author began.
The 30-year-old writer who is a graduate of Mass Communication from Benue State University explained that she enjoys reading and writing fiction during her spare time.
According to Kumashe, she has always been a great lover of written art and even toyed with the notion of becoming a writer herself. However, she never gave it serious thought until she stumbled on a book by Sally Kenneth Dadzie, who later became her favourite Nigerian writer.
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The young lady explained that Dadzie had written about a Tiv character in a particular book and it made her feel seen because an author had written about someone from her tribe.
“I stumbled on a book by a lady who is now my favourite Nigerian writer, Sally Kenneth Dadzie. In that book, there was a Tiv character and I remember how happy I was reading about someone from my tribe. I felt seen in a way. It was such a beautiful feeling. So, it made me wonder why there weren't a lot of writers from my ethnic group in the literary world. I decided that rather than wait to read stories about Tiv characters, I'd write them.”
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I grew up in a family of readers
Kumashe went ahead to speak on how her writing skill was also influenced by her family. According to her, she grew up in a family of readers where her parents had made it a point for reading to be a habit that she and her siblings cultivated.
The While She Slept author explained that while growing up, her mum was an avid reader and her dad often got her encyclopaedias for her to come up with 10 new words every week.
She also said:
“Growing up, I often saw my mum read loads of novels. It made me curious and sort of encouraged me to go hunting for adventures in books. Till date, whenever she comes visiting, the first place she goes to is my library!”
About While She Slept
Kumashe then spoke on her latest book, While She Slept, which she described as a paranormal thriller.
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According to her, the book is about a 25-year-old character, Tarfa, who discovered he was from a family of ghost whisperers and a lady, Lily, who is stuck between life and death because of her psychotic brother, Bishop, who is out for revenge on his adoptive family.
Kumashe added that before she wrote While She Slept, she had tried her hands at the romance genre. However, she now wanted to write something totally different but with a bit of romance in it.
In her words:
“Before this book, I dabbled mostly in the romance genre because love makes the world so much better! I wanted to write something totally different and even though there's a bit of romance in the book, While She Slept is mostly a paranormal thriller book. It isn't my first published work but it is the project I decided to put out physical copies.”
I wanted to write a story that showcased my culture
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The While She Slept book, which was mainly about a ghost, was born out of Kumashe’s desire to challenge herself while also showcasing her Tiv culture.
According to the author, she had just finished a writing course when she decided to work on the book. However, before then, she had written mostly series on her blog and working on a proper book meant a great deal to her.
Kumashe explained that while she has never had encounters with ghosts, writing about them also came from her love for crime and paranormal TV shows.
“Writing about ghosts came from my love for crime and paranormal TV shows. But these were mostly western TV. So, I was curious about writing a story, but making it African and most importantly, one that showcases my culture.”
Not stopping there, Kumashe explained her passion for promoting African culture and it influenced her writing of While She Slept.
“Since I decided to take my writing seriously, I've been reading a lot of books by African authors and listening to a wide range of African music, especially traditional ones. I'm very passionate about culture promotion and these things influence my writing, at least this book. And with writing romance, I consume mostly romance books, films and love songs. It puts my mind in the right space to really get to work”, she said.
Kumashe also spoke on how she drew courage from a number of Nigerian writers after reading their works. According to her, it is amazing that nobody tries to fit them into a box.
“I've spent more years as a reader than a writer and I must say, I've read loads of brilliant books by Nigerian authors. The amazing thing is, no one is trying to fit into one box; everyone is creating their own paths and making a name for themselves as they go. I've drawn courage from a lot of these writers as they have inspired me in more ways than one on the importance of being authentic and not playing to the gallery”, she said.
In my darkest times, books saved me - Kumashe speaks on what will be the peak of her career
The While She Slept author, just like many other writers, found an escape in books. According to the 30-year-old, the peak of her career would be changing people’s lives with her worlds because books saved her during her darkest times.
“The peak of my career as a writer would be knowing that a book I wrote changed lives for the better. Books have always been a form of escapism for me. In my darkest times, books saved me. So, to know that my book changed lives; you know, did that for someone else will make me feel even more grateful for the gift of writing. And of course, to one day win a Pulitzer Prize won't hurt either. Haha!”
Writing a book is easy until you decide to write one
Also during the interview, Kumashe admitted to feeling proud about writing While She Slept. According to her, she had challenged herself in 2020 to put out a full-length book as opposed to her previously written short works, Tana's Fate and Picture Perfect, which were romance books.
“I decided that I was going to do something different from what I was used to. I must say, it was a learning experience for me because I went into it with the belief that it wasn't going to be difficult. I was wrong. Writing a book is easy until you decide to write one. The process was challenging and there were times I thought of giving up and just shelving it. So, to have it published now and out there means a lot to me. I am glad I didn't give up on it. It was quite an experience writing this book and I am happy to share it with the world.”
Kumashe speaks on future plans
The published author noted that While She Slept is not the last the world will hear of her works. According to her, she is currently working on a romance book which should be out sometime in 2023.
“I intend to put out a lot of books. Currently, I'm working on a romance book which will come out sometime this year, 2023.”