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Vanessa Walters Books In Order

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Publication Order of Standalone Novels

Rude Girls (1996)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Best Things in Life (1999)Description / Buy at Amazon
The Nigerwife (2023)Description / Buy at Amazon

Vanessa Walters
Vanessa Walters was born in London, United Kingdom in 1978 and she is a playwright and an English novelist. She’s also a critic and a commentator.

She is best known as the teenage novelist that was discovered to be writing a novel as a hobby to share with her friends at school.

Educated at Queen’s College, London, that when found by her teachers, the journal got passed on to an agent that quickly got her signed to a publishing company with a five-figure book deal before she had even left school.

The resulting book, called “Rude Girls”, made her a success, however instead of diving head long into the literary world she continued with her studies, eventually progressing to University. “Rude Girls” is a book that Vanessa had wanted to read, but it didn’t exist.

The novel was acclaimed as an accurate portrayal of life in the North London Black community, it was a huge success right across the board.

Vanessa, while she was studying the law, found time to spend an entire year in Paris and keep writing. “The Best Things in Life” was published in 1998 and it explored the lives of young Black women that struggled to balance relationships, work, and friendship.

Vanessa was also a Nigerwife, a part of the community of Nigerwives, that lived in Lagos with her two sons and her husband. Even though she had seven fantastic years in Lagos, she also struggled with a lack of identity and purpose and dislocation while she was there. At times, she felt as though she had vanished. And she sometimes wondered about what if she did actually disappear? And thus, a story was born about this fictional Nigerwife with all of these issues, just like herself, in this dramatic fictional tale replete with characters. It was actually a pretty easy story for her to write.

She chose the structure for the novel, with Nicole telling the story before she vanished, and Claudine telling the story after, because Claudine is the literal backstory to the predicament Nicole finds herself. As she walks into this novel and revealing the history of this family as well as this character. She also finds that our fates are generations in the making and she wanted to show this from Claudine’s point of view.

Since she was a young British Jamaican woman growing up in London, she always had quite a lot to say and never felt too hemmed in or censored by the Caribbean or British culture there. Instead, she was always encouraged to speak out. However in Lagos, she noticed numerous differences. Seniority is something that’s revered in Nigeria, so young folks are often silenced. Class structures also impact who is heard. She also noticed that women were often expected to defer to male authority.

So in “The Nigerwife”, she wanted to explore the impact of such silencing on people. The Nigerwives Association continues to represent this safe space for females to express themselves without any fear of offending their in-laws. Regardless of background or class, they are allowed to let off steam and just be themselves. This is something that was important to her, and it can be quite the lifesaver for some Nigerwives like Nicole.

She began with Nicole’s perspective, but she really wrote the novel out of questions. And the question of who Nicole is grew bigger and bigger. These questions become characters and the questions become places. And how would Vanessa, as the author, answer such questions about cultural identity and differences best? Have somebody outside of Nigeria come into the picture. Have somebody that’s never been to Lagos, and knows nothing about the culture ask questions to reveal the culture of Lagos and of Nicole.

The story developed over time, however the body at the start of the story was inspired by real life. Vanessa would sometimes see bodies pass along the Lagoon and would wonder at the fact there wasn’t any real fuss about it. No call to the police and she’d never see them get picked up despite the fact they were festering for hours on a busy shipping lane and a lot of people would see them.

The Lagos cops aren’t that unique in the world for being vulnerable to corrupt elements. But things such as a lack of resources, inadequate pay, and housing, as corrupt officials will often steal their budgets, all of which affect their willingness and ability to provide justice.

Vanessa’s reviews have been broadcast on Sky News, BBC Four (Television), BBC Radio 4’s “Front Row Show”, The World, Colourful Radio, and More4 (The Cinema Show). Her articles have been published in The Voice, The Guardian, New Statesman, and others which include Pride Magazine, for which she writes a monthly column on topical issues for black women.

“The Nigerwife” is the first stand alone novel and was released in 2023. This electrifying and twisty debut novel about this young woman that goes missing in Lagos, Nigeria, and her estranged auntie that will stop at nothing in order to find the truth.

Nicole Oruwari has a pretty perfect life: a palatial house in the heart of Lagos, Nigeria, a handsome husband, and this glamorous group of friends. She left behind gloomy London and her dark family past behind for moneyed and sunny Lagos, becoming a part of the Nigerwives, this community of foreign women that are married to wealthy Nigerian men.

However when she vanishes without a trace after going on a boat trip, the cracks in Nicole’s supposed perfect life begin showing. While the investigation turns up nothing but dead ends, her Auntie Claudine decides to take matters into her own hands. Armed with just her cell phone and a plane ticket to Nigeria, she digs deeper into her niece’s life and finds this hidden side that’s filled with isolation, dark secrets, and even a bit of violence. However the more that she learns about her niece, the more that Claudine’s own buried history threatens to come to light.

“The Nigerwife” is a keenly observant and inventively told thriller novel where nothing is like it appears to be, and is a razor sharp look at the consequences of secrets, the bonds of family, whether or not we can ever truly outrun our own past.

The novel was selected as the May Book Club Pick by “Good Morning America”.

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