Interview with Luwa Adebanjo

Published 2021-02-12.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
So for me, self-publishing was a big decision. I ultimately decided to do it because I felt so left out of the traditional publishing world. It is a very inaccessible industry for black people in general. That’s not to say no black person could succeed there, many have despite barriers. Still, it's really hard to get into traditional publishing as someone who doesn't have those connections. A lot of publishing companies wouldn't even see you unless you have an agent, and an agent you need a cover letter. And these cover letters are very very specific in the way that you need to write them, and no one seems to be willing to give you that secret of how to write the letter, without paying them first. So ultimately, I think, self-publishing allowed me to go beyond the barriers of traditional publishing, and tell stories that represent my life and struggles.
What is your writing process like?
My writing changes very much depending on what I'm writing. I’ve published a comedy play as well as my debut poetry anthology and of course my writing process was very different for both. When it comes to my anthology, some of the poems were pre-written because it is sort of semi-autobiographical. So some of the poems I started writing around 13ish and its taken almost a decade to finish them if you think about it- which is wild! Some of the poems were already pre-written, but for the rest, I kind of looked at my anthology like a timeline and thought “What are the gaps that need to be filled in for the story to make sense? And what else does the audience need to know?” And then I sort of titled poems based on what they needed to do to fill in the gap. Sometimes I just sit down and just write whatever comes to mind. Sometimes I take inspiration from other places. Sometimes I kind of have an idea already what the poem could be like, you know, what's going to visually look like or how I want the reader to feel with it. One of the poems in the anthology is called Exodus 20 KJV, and in that one, I tried to make the poem very visually jarring and kind of uncomfortable for the reader because that poem was kind of expressing what it was like for me growing up in a religious household with intrusive thoughts and struggling with my sexuality.
What inspires your writing the most?
I think the number one inspiration for me is always going to be being the kind of person that 13-year-old me needed when I was younger. I think being kind of person that would have saved my younger self is something that inspires me to write a lot. In my anthology, one of the poems started from the idea of writing to my younger self, and I'm trying, you know, to connect with her. It isn’t easy at all, and it’s hard for me to focus on those difficult parts of growing but because I think there's a lot of forgiveness that has to be done when you grew up with a hard childhood. You have to forgive yourself and you have to forgive your inner child and that's something that's really important for me.
I also hope that sharing my story helps other people, that is another big inspiration for me. I think art is something that just allows you to share emotion and healing in a way that's just so beautiful. I think another inspiration will definitely have to be Lucille Clifton, I talked about her in my anthology in the foreword: she's an amazing poet and her poem ‘won’t you come celebrate with me’ changed my life. Her poetry showed me how sharing your story can change everything. I think that's so inspirational I want to be that for someone else. And then I think my final inspiration is, I don't know, maybe boredom? I think there's a little bit of healthy boredom there- if I'm not creating I feel stifled. When I've gone a little bit without writing something I do feel it, and I'm very much inspired by my own life as well, and events that have happened I've changed me.
What impact do you hope to have with your writing?
I mean, I guess when I was younger like 13-year-old me would say: I want to be a world-famous author. I think I’ve grown past that, I still would love mainstream success but it’s not my goal anymore. I want to be able to measure my impact. I think there's that question of how many true fans do you need to be successful? That’s what I’m focused on right now. I really do want to touch people with my work because I have experienced so much art those touched me and changed my life. I want to provide that for the people. I really want people to come to my work especially little black girls and see themselves and feel represented.
How do you think our community can best support self-published authors?
I think the most important thing that the community can do to support our writers is just to buy our books! Let our writers know their art has value! Even if you're not going to read them- buy them as a gift for someone else. If the cover is pretty, and I think my cover is gorgeous (thanks @artbybolu!), you can use it to add some colour to your shelves.
It's just really important that not only do you order these books because otherwise these artists are not going to make any money, and may black writers don’t have the luxury of writing and publishing if their books don’t make any impact. We have bills to pay, and if no one interacts with your work, why bother? That’s the next important things: Interact! It's also important that you leave reviews wherever you can leave a review, even if you're not a very talkative person just one or two lines being like, ‘Oh, I love this’ or ‘It was okay’ or ‘It was horrible for XYZ reasons’. Whatever you want to say just put it out there because that's the kind of thing that writers geek out all over. One thing that inspires and pushes us to keep going is that positive feedback and knowing your work is doing what you wanted.
I think black writers really need that extra support because White is seen as the default. And therefore, white stories are seen as a default- as if everyone can and should relate to white stories as a given. When we try to add diversity, white- led stories are seen as a great blank canvas, while our stories are seen as ‘political’ and ‘virtue-signalling’ and unrelatable.
But if we want to have more black writers and more black stories published, then we need to support black artists. This stuff actually does trickle down, if a book becomes really successful and has a diverse cast, hopefully, any movie or TV adaptation will also have a diverse cast. This isn’t always the case, but we can use our purchasing power to show that all stories deserve to be told.
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Books by This Author

I Am Not Who I say I Am
Pre-release—available June 9, 2023. Price: $20.00 USD. Words: 8,460. Language: English. Categories: Poetry » Biography, Fiction » Anthologies » Poetry - general
In the beginning, there was my parent’s marriage; turbulent, forbidden, doomed to end. For those who feel the need to be perfect and who need their 2nd chapter to be better than their 1st. they are not comparable, they are completely different that’s like comparing the New Testament to the Old Testament. Maybe one is better than the other but to be better you just need to be here.
A Vistor Who Belongs Here
Price: $12.90 USD. Words: 8,440. Language: British English. Published: February 8, 2021. Categories: Poetry » Female authors, Poetry » LGBTQ+
"I cannot explain just how much this poetry anthology makes me feel... It both destroys me and heals me, makes me laugh and makes me cry, soothes me and unnerves me. It's honest, raw, and is the closest I've ever felt to being in another person's body." Emily Elizebeth Ash A Visitor Who Belongs Here is Luwa Adebanjo’s debut poetry anthology all about home, belonging and the joy of surviving.
We're Here for Laura
Price: $4.00 USD. Words: 9,520. Language: English. Published: December 31, 2020. Categories: Plays » Women Authors
Laura Penbrooke is dead. Her four closest friends can't wait to milk her tragedy for all it is worth. No one more so than Mitton, Laura's bestie, who arranges a simple dinner to remember her BBFL. So what if her camera crew just happens to be around filming her reality show? That's just showbiz, baby! And if Paul wants to plug their one-person opera, that's a great distraction from Carol's monoton