Hadiza Isma El-Rufai, the First Lady of Kaduna State, is author of ‘An Abundance of Scorpions’, a novel inspired by her work with orphans. She is founder of Yasmin El-Rufai Foundation, a non-profit literary organization. Bookshelf cornered her for a chat.
Bookshelf: How did the idea for your novel, ‘An Abundance of Scorpions’ come to you?
While working in the orphanage at Abuja I always wondered about the children and the question of identity and where they came from. What makes us who we are usually came to my mind. Many of the orphans where I volunteered were just picked up on the streets, some as babies who had been dumped, but mostly new-borns from unmarried mothers.
Bookshelf: What did it take to develop your central character and make her believable?
Hadiza: My main character is a woman, a matron in the orphanage I wrote about. I think she’s an interesting character. She was part of the first story I started writing but she wasn’t the major character. I had to write a back story about her and that was how her own story developed.
Bookshelf: What do you hope to achieve through ‘An Abundance of Scorpions’?
Hadiza: I’ll be very happy if readers read my book because I want to entertain people. I think the story is very engaging and I like to give people food for thought.
Bookshelf: What would you say is different about this new book compared to what you have written in the past?
Hadiza: I think every story is different. For instance, I wrote ‘An Abundance of Scorpions’ in the first person. It’s the voice of the matron telling her story. However, the book I am working on now is written in the third person because I want to show the point of view of different characters.