Diana Evans discusses 26a
Q: To what degree is 26a an autobiographical novel?
A: It was inspired by a personal bereavement so in that sense it is
autobiographical; and I did draw from memories and sensations from my own
childhood. But I would be uncomfortable calling it a portrait or a blueprint of
my life. When you are using autobiographical material in fiction, it is
absolutely necessary that you distance yourself enough from the subject so that
it becomes something of its own, nothing to do with you, so that the imagination
can take flight and all kinds of unexpected twists and turns of plot and
character come into play. This is what happened with 26a.
Q: 26a shares some qualities with magical realist fiction. Have you been
influenced by Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Salman Rushdie, Isabel Allende, and other
magical realist writers? Or does this quality flow into your work more from
A: I would not attribute either source to the 'magic realist' aspects of the
novel. It's simply the way I write. I love the supernatural, and I am enthralled
by writing that dares to venture into the impossible or fantastic. It's great
fun and takes the writer and the reader into another world, which is what
fiction should do. However I do have an interest in African folk-tales; even an
unwitting, innate knowledge of them, which is to do with being half Nigerian.
Q: 26a is, in many ways, about the search for identitywho we are as
separate beings and who we are in our connections to others. What interests you
about this search?
A: I am very interested, simply, in the human struggle to be who we are, who we
really are. There are so many expectations placed upon us, so many restricting
places in which we are supposed to place ourselves in order to function in the
world. There is often a struggle to hold on to who we are through all of this;
either we lose the struggle and we are lost, almost deadened, or we simply don't
survive at all. I'm very interested in this difficult intersection, and how it
manifests in people's lives.
Q: Why did you decide to move the action of 26a from London to Nigeria and
A: I wanted to see what might happen to Georgia and Bessi in another place,
their mother's homeland. I suppose I wanted to bring to life certain aspects of
a mixed race childhood. And at that point in the novel I needed something huge
to happen, a turning point that would change the twins forever. I thoroughly
enjoyed writing the Nigeria section.
Q: What were the most pleasurable and most challenging aspects of writing
your first novel?
A: The most challenging was definitely in conquering fear, facing this great
daunting task of writing a novel and making it the best it could possibly be.
The most pleasurable, ironically, was actually conquering that fear, entering
into the dark hazy world of the book, and letting myself go, swim around, float,
let my imagination run wild. I loved that feeling of absolute freedom. It was