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Nekesa Afia: On Approaching Genre as a Challenge

In this article, novelist Nekesa Afia explains how she initially wrote a romance novel, but then switched over to the mystery and historical fiction genres to challenge herself, producing her debut title, Dead Dead Girls.

Nekesa (Nuh-kes-ah) Afia (Ah-fee-ah) is a Canadian millennial who is doing her best. When she isn’t writing, she is either sewing, swing dancing, or actively trying to pet every dog she sees. Dead Dead Girl is her debut novel.

Nekesa Afia

Nekesa Afia

In this post, Afia explains how she initially wrote a romance novel, but then switched over to the mystery and historical fiction genres to challenge herself, producing her debut title, Dead Dead Girls, and more!

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Name: Nekesa Afia
Literary agent: Travis Pennington, The Knight Agency
Book title: Dead Dead Girls
Publisher: Berkley (PRH)
Release date: June 1, 2021
Genre: Mystery, historical fiction

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

Dead Dead Girls by Nekesa Afia

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What prompted you to write this book?

I was prompted to write this book because I’ve always loved mysteries, and I wanted to write one with the main character who looked like me. I’ve always been fascinated with true crime, and I wanted to challenge myself to write a mystery.

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How long did it take to go from idea to publication? 

It took five years. Dead Dead Girls was my 2017 NaNoWriMo project. It changed wildly during the process. In the beginning, it was about a woman named Lela Leigh who worked for a shady, CIA-type organization. It took a lot of finessing and rewriting to get the book to where I wanted it to be.

Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title? 

The entire publishing process has been a dream. I’m honestly surprised how well the book has been received so far. It’s a story I really believe in.

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Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

I surprised myself by being able to write a mystery. Before this, I wrote a romance novel that will never see the light of day. I wrote a mystery simply to challenge myself. The research and work that it took to build a world that is realistic and alive were surprising as well. I found myself researching very odd subjects.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

I hope that readers get another look at the 1920s as a time period as a whole. I hope they fall in love with the time period, but also realize that it wasn’t all sunshine and roses.

Nekesa Afia: On Approaching Genre as a Challenge

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

Patience! I always say patience. Keep your head down, focus on your own progress, and be patient.

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