Who is Musih Tedji Xaviere? 5 Questions With These Letters End in Tears Author

Celebrating the publication of Musih tedji Xaviere's debut novel These Letters End in Tears by spending some time chatting to the author.

Over 5 questions, we get to know ore about her, her daring debut and Cameroon; the country in which it is set. Dive in!

1.) When did you realise that you wanted to be a published writer and then that you could be a published writer? 

I knew I wanted to be a writer when I read Oliver Twist at eleven years old. I realised I could be a published author when a romance novella I wrote at thirteen years old become popular at my school. In my twenties I self-published a young adult fiction novel because there were no traditional publishing options open to me in Cameroon. My dream of becoming a traditionally published author came true when I won the 2021 Pontas and JJ Bola Emerging Writers Prize for my then uncompleted debut novel These Letters End in Tears.

2.) What inspired you to write Bessem and Fatima’s story? 

Cameroon is probably one of the worst places in the world to be gay but what I love seeing is that even under such awful conditions, LGBTQ+ people in the country still find ways to persevere and build communities. Soul mates are still able to find each other which tells you that the human ability to love can never be stifled. The idea that flowers can grow in the desert is very beautiful to me. I wanted to tell a story that not only only to highlights the struggles of gay people in the country but also to celebrate how beauty can grow in the dark.

3.) Why did you decide to use the format of letters to tell this story? 

I love handwritten letters. I think letters are romantic in a way that modern ways of communication are not. Also, letter writing was the primary means of communication when I was in secondary school, my formative years and this was the late nineties, early two thousands. Part of my book is set in that time period, so I felt that it would be a more authentic way for Bessem to communicate with Fatima, because that’s what she’s doing, she’s writing these letters hoping that Fatima would find them, they communicate her longing, her fears, and hope, I couldn’t think of a more romantic, more natural way to do it.

4.) What is it about Cameroon that you would like the readers to take from These Letters Ends in Tears? 

Cameroonians are resilient people. We persevere even in the face of hopelessness. Anglophone Cameroonians demonstrated just how brave Cameroonians are when they stood up to government oppression in 2016 and have not since stopped demanding a better, fairer Cameroon.

5.) You recently moved to the UK, if there was one thing, distinctly Cameroon that you could have brought with you on your move, what would it be and why?

Sunshine. English weather is depressing and unfriendly. There’s a saying that Africans are poor but happy. Do you know why that is? Sunshine. People underestimate the power of sunshine. England is beautiful but the lack of sunshine makes it hard for me to fully enjoy its beauty.

These Letters End in Tears is OUT NOW in hardback, and eBook.