Mrs. Adebisi Kuforiji speaks about her life and her book YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE
Hello, kindly give us a brief introduction about yourself.: My name is Adebisi Kuforiji, and my maiden name is Adegbite. The first of 6 siblings (I have 3 brothers and 2 sisters in that order). I am a single mother of 4 grown children, and a stepmom to an amazing son. I’m blessed to have 2 grand babies too. I will be 59 years old on the 24th of August 2023. 24 is a special number in my family. My ex-husband was born on the 24th of August, my first daughter was born on the 24th of June, and the twins, on April 24th.
What is your book all about? : My book started with an experience I had when I went in for surgery in a teaching hospital in Ibadan, Nigeria. When I came back for review, I had an emergency and I was rushed and admitted to a teaching hospital in Lagos, after a couple of hours, I was declared dead and my sister was given a notification of death so she could go get the death certificate. I was clinically dead. I had a lot of witnesses, around 16 people or so. During the time I was declared dead, I had a major out of body experience and I decided to put everything I saw into writing during that transition because I believe it was God giving me another chance to be able to tell people about that story. Also, I have always wanted to write a book, my dad wanted to write one but he died before he could achieve that. He died in 2013 and in January 2014 I decided to write a book and launch it on my 50th birthday which was August 24, 2014. The book has so many chapters, Memories With Dad because my dad was so special to me. Unlucky In Love because I have been married once and I had a relationship with another so I have 4 children with 2 fathers. I talked about my work experience, traveling around the world because I love love love traveling. I ended the book with The People’s Parliament, an unedited chapter about people talking about the Adebisi they know.
What inspired the topic?: Well, it is exactly what the book is (laughs) about. I saw that I had a first life until I was declared dead and the 2nd life is what I am going to live until I go to heaven. So You Only Live Twice is God giving me a second chance at life. The SECOND is in caps and underlined.
What would you say is the most difficult part of writing the book?: I would say, distractions. I started writing the book when I was on my way to Abuja one morning and my flight was delayed. I lost my dad 6 months prior so I had so many fresh memories. I started with a chapter titled Fatherhood With Dad, although I had to make it the 3rd chapter in the book. I had almost finished that chapter by the time I boarded the flight. Anywhere I went, I would quickly scribble something on my laptop whenever I felt the urge to write but then, after a while, I started getting distracted and I wasn’t able to write anything anymore. However, it got easier knowing that it is not rocket science to write about oneself. It is not fiction, it happened so you just have to determine how much you want to put out there.
What did you edit out of this book? : (laughs) What I really edited in this book was major experiences in both my relationships, my marriage, and the partnership I had with the second person. I edited a lot. In fact, I had to show my kids the manuscript. So many things happened to me that I could only say by mouth, if I had written everything, those guys’ reputations would have been destroyed for life but then, I had to remember that they are the fathers of my kids. So I had to restrain myself from writing some things about them. These were the major things I edited from the book.
What was your real-life work schedule like when writing the book?: I wrote the book in my leisure time. It was like a hobby. Or watching a movie. Or playing Candy Crush. Or listening to music. It did not really disrupt my real-life work schedule. I have been an entrepreneur since 1989. That’s like 34 years, so my work wasn’t distracted by the book.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?: it was when I was 10 years old. I have always been good with composition, and how to express myself. I never had the problem of putting down my thoughts on paper or diary. When I was 10 years old, for my birthday party, I wrote a play and my friends came around to rehearse days before we entertained on D-Day. When I was in secondary school, I was really active in the drama group. I used to write a lot of short stories. My parents were abroad, so whenever I write them letters, it was always the stories of what happened to me in school. So I have always wanted to be a writer since I was 10 years old, however, writing this book was inspired by my father not being able to write his own book before he passed on.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your book?: when I was writing this book, I realized that I have a very interesting life. I realized what I was meant to do while writing this book, is to impact lives with my experience.
I knew I was going to inspire people with my story. While writing, I got to know that the book would minister to single women, married women, CEOs, travelers, etc. This surprised me a lot as I found out the book would be more useful than the original plan.
Have you gone on any literary pilgrimages? : Oh yes I have. There was a time I went back to my family home in Abeokuta to research my heritage. I even took pictures of my family home. My father’s paternal home, my mom’s maternal home, and paternal homes. I asked questions, went to the grave sites, and got to know more about my family tree. I have my family tree in the book. I treasure my family so much. I got the original panegyrics (Oriki) from old people. All the people that helped me then have died now so it was indeed worth it to embark on the literary pilgrimage and have an audio recording.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?: Just this book, You Only Live Twice. However, I have another one coming up titled See You Sooner Than You Think. I plan on launching it on my 60th birthday. You Only Live Twice was launched on my 50th birthday. For now, You Only Live Twice is my favorite.
Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both? : it energizes me and I am grateful for that gift. I love trying to get words in my mind. If it was just left to people like me, Google would not be useful. Writing energizes me, it never exhausts me. It only happens when I have to respond to messages like happy new month / happy Easter, which trigger me because my OCD will not rest until I respond to all.
If you could spend a day with another popular author, whom would you choose and why?: it would be John Grisham! John Grisham!! John Grisham!!! I love that guy, his stories appear so real. And that’s why I can’t bring myself to watch any of his book adaptations in movies because they could not capture the real story. A Time To Kill, The Partner, RunAway Jury, The Partner. I really love John Grisham.
If your book were made into a movie, which actors would play your characters?: 1. for my dad, Olu Jacobs would be awesome for that. For myself, it would be either Joke Silva or Sola Sobowale because there are a lot of things they do that remind me of myself. I know both of them are different in the way they act but they can play me well. For the other characters, I don’t know who will play my kids, I would have to research that but definitely, I am going to use Nigerians because there are other factors that the Americans will not get. For example, during your Omugwo period when people are supposed to look after you and you’re making amala for your inlaws. The Americans will not get that one (laughs) but a Nigerian will get that ‘if you’re not lucky in marriage, anything can happen’.
What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?: The only 2 that I know and subscribed to are The Writer and The Writer’s Digest because they are very relevant in updating on how to do your work. In fact, I got to know that if you’re not on Amazon, you have not started marketing your book. I think The Newyorker too is good but those 2 are my top magazines I would recommend anyone to subscribe to.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?: I have one half-finished book and would classify it as unpublished, See You Sooner Than You Think. I have some notes I am helping my daughter with, she is also writing a book and she said I would be a co-author but I won’t count that yet, so for now. It is just one.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?: just 3 words, No Holds Barred. Anything that you’re going to write about yourself, please don’t edit anything out because when you die, who else is going to tell your story? That’s what I have realized about writing biographies. You need to let it all out or just forget it. That’s what I will tell my younger writing self; No Holds Barred.
What advice would you give to a writer working on their first book?: take your time, and don’t be under any pressure. For the first book, although it is good for you to get it right it doesn’t have to be perfect. No pressure, do whatever you can, and make sure you enjoy doing it. Writing is not supposed to be a job you’re forced to do, forget about the money, it will come if people enjoy your book. So just do it for your pleasure. For example, if you’re a writer of fiction, make sure you use tangible characters and places people can identify with. When you’re doing things like star wars, NASA, etc, make sure you research properly so you don’t go off point when writing certain scenes. No pressure is what I will really advise a first-time writer because the book is what you’re going to own for life, it’s yours to keep and own. You’ll get paid royalties for life so you might as well do it well but it doesn’t have to be perfect. So again, no pressure, make sure you enjoy doing it. Whatever the topic is, make sure you enjoy it and come out with the best you can because it’s going to get better with your second and third books.
The book YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE is available on Amazon here : https://amzn.eu/d/7HlIcpE
Thank you so much.