A British novelist who has lived in Prague for 10 years, told a group of AAU students that developing a novel may feel random, but it is intuitive at the Open Lecture series.

Professor Seth Rogoff led the conversation between the two published authors–himself and Helen Oyememi–that began as a closed discussion and was followed by the reading of Oyememi’s first chapter. After, the floor was opened for questions from the audience.

“Be sure of your reasons for writing and who you are writing for,” Oyememi advised. 

Photo by: Antoinette Goldberg

With Oyememi’s first novel published at 18, the author received many questions around her editing process and the advice she had for prospective writers. Students were quick to find support and relatability to her words of wisdom. 

“She’s a good inspiration for young writers and she was very encouraging. She didn’t over glorify being a novelist,” said Adelle Hollmer, a third-year student at AAU.

Oyememi explained she did not do much research for her novel, rather it is just an accumulation of what she learned. This advice came from her idea that she didn’t want to present her work in a studied manner.

The novel was introduced to non-readers and readers alike “to be immersed in a world of intense creativity and immense creativity,” Rogoff said. 

In a room of roughly 30 students, teachers, and readers alike, the hour session was filled with comfortable laughter, thought-provoking advice and most importantly, a shared love for Prague.

As a long time lover and resident of Prague, Oyememi’s first novel based in the Czech city, “Parasol Against the Axe”, is set over a long drought ridden weekend in Prague between estranged friends, Hero and Sofie, on Sofie’s bachelorette trip.

Photo by: Ela Angevine

“I just want to live in Prague as a person. Me, not me as a writer,” declared Oyememi, telling the surrounding room why it took her 10 novels to finally reach this Czech destination. 

Though living in Prague as both, she shared an anecdote with the audience about graffiti of her name popping up around Prague when she left for a short period. 

Oyememi added: “Sometimes, I feel like Prague likes me back.”

“Parasol Against the Axe” was published earlier this year in English, but will be translated to Czech by September 2024, according to Oyememi.