Exclusive Cover Reveal + Q&A: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Where Sleeping Girls Lie

Books Features Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé
Exclusive Cover Reveal + Q&A: Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s Where Sleeping Girls Lie

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé’s buzzy 2021 debut novel Ace of Spades was a critical and commercial hit, a twisty, compelling tale of two Black students who become the targets of an anonymous texter at an elite boarding school. Readers around the world are rightly excited to see what Abíké-Íyímídé does next. 

Thankfully, we won’t have to wait much longer to find out. Her sophomore novel is slated to arrive next spring, and it sounds as though it will have a similar twisty dark academia vibe. Titled Where Sleeping Girls Lie, it’s a contemporary YA mystery about a Nigerian-British student who is still adjusting to her new life at an elite school in England when her roommate mysteriously disappears. As Sadie digs deeper into Elizabeth’s disappearance she begins to learn her new school is full of dark secrets. 

Here’s how the publisher describes the story:

Sade Hussein is starting her third year of high school, this time at the prestigious Alfred Nobel Academy boarding school, after being home-schooled all her life. Misfortune has clung to her seemingly since birth, but even she doesn’t expect her new roommate, Elizabeth, to disappear after Sade’s first night. Or for people to think Sade had something to do with it.

With rumors swirling around her, Sade catches the attention of the girls collectively known as the ‘Unholy Trinity’ and they bring her into their fold. Between learning more about them—especially Persephone, who Sade is inexplicably drawn to—and playing catchup in class, Sade already has so much on her plate. But when it seems people don’t care enough about what happened to Elizabeth, it’s up to she and Elizabeth’s best friend, Baz, to investigate. And then a student is found dead. The more Sade and Baz dig into Elizabeth’s disappearance, the more she realizes there’s more to Alfred Nobel Academy and its students than she thought. Secrets lurk around every corner and beneath every surface…secrets that rival even her own.

Where Sleeping Girls Lie won’t hit shelves until March 19, 2024, but we’re thrilled to be able to share the cover with you right now.

Where Sleeping Girls Lie cover YA

We had the chance to chat with Àbíké-Íyímíde herself about what to expect from her second novel, what inspired Where Sleeping Girls Lie, why we’re all so obsessed with dark boarding school stories, and more.

Paste Magazine: Tell us about Where Sleeping Girls Lie? What can readers expect from this story?

Faridah Àbíké-Íyímídé: Where Sleeping Girls Lie is, essentially, If the unfriendly Black hotties from Mean Girls were the main characters in a murder mystery. 

The story follows Sade Hussein as she navigates boarding school for the first time while dealing with the grief from her many dead relatives and trying to solve multiple mysteries. It’s kind of like A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder by Holly Jackson meets Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson, and readers can expect to be surprised I think. Where Sleeping Girls Lie is so different from my debut so I’m excited to see reader responses.

Paste: Where did the inspiration for this book come from?

Àbíké-Íyímídé: As with all my stories, I have multiple sources of inspiration. One thing that inspired me initially was wanting to challenge myself by writing something that felt completely totally different from my debut, Ace of Spades. Prior to this book, I felt most comfortable writing in first person and having the character be the voice you meet at the start. 

With Where Sleeping Girls Lie, the story is written in the third person and that distance between the reader and the main character was so difficult to do, but I think I pulled it off in the end. Another inspiration for this story was the casualness of rape culture on university campuses all over the U.K. while I was at university. I’d seen and heard truly horrific reports about boys’ group chats and saw the way many universities failed to address these reports. Around the same time, there were a lot of reports in high schools across the UK of the same horrific things happening to students. I wanted to unpack a lot of that.

Paste: How would you say this book compares to your debut, Ace of Spades?

Àbíké-Íyímídé: Where Sleeping Girls Lie shares a lot of similarities with Ace of Spades but also a lot of differences. In terms of their similarities, the two stories center on queer Black protagonists trying to solve a mystery. They both also take place inside elite institutions and they are both about abuses of power. Their differences however can be seen in the subplots. With Ace of Spades, there was a big focus on romantic and familial subplots, but with Where Sleeping Girls Lie, while there is romance, the big focus is on friendship and found family. 

The two stories are also tonally different, with Where Sleeping Girls Lie having more comedic moments and a lot more world-building so that the reader can feel like they are also at this cozy English boarding school too. The biggest difference though I would say is definitely who I am as a person now. I was eighteen years old when I wrote Ace of Spades and I am now twenty-four, so my writing style and interests have greatly shifted.

Paste: Tell us about your main character, Sade. What’s she like?

Àbíké-Íyímídé: Sade is someone I would describe as stand-offish when you initially meet her but then as you get to know her, she has a lot of warmth to her. She is a character haunted by the past a lot and is honestly just trying her best to function while dealing with a whole lot of grief. I think it is so important to depict Black girls as humanly as possible, and I try not to worry about how likable my main characters are; my main concern is that they are human.

Paste: Why do you think it’s important to put characters of color squarely at the center of these kinds of stories?

Àbíké-Íyímídé: I think it’s important to depict the world as it is, and when we fail to center certain groups of people, the implication there is that those groups of people deserve to be sidelined in real life and can’t be the main characters in even their own lives. 

I remember growing up only really seeing white characters at the center, and feeling like I was on the outside looking into my own life. It is a horrible feeling and I hope that I get to keep telling stories that center characters of color forever.

Paste: What do you think it is about an elite boarding school that makes it such a compelling setting?

Àbíké-Íyímídé: I think because the majority of people will never get to experience an elite school setting, it almost feels like reading a fantasy novel without the dragons and the magical powers. Carrying on with the fantasy analogy, being from privilege is like the real world’s version of a chosen one story (where the chosen one isn’t the result of some random prophecy but instead an unjust system). 

Being in the mind of a chosen one who gets all these fancy experiences can feel like a sort of escapism and I think that is one of the things that draws people to these settings. I think elite boarding schools are also the breeding grounds for some of the most powerful people in society and so there is a lot of interesting corruption and darkness there to unpack.

When Sleeping Girls Lie will be released on March 19, 2024, but you can pre-order it right now.

Lacy Baugher Milas is the Books Editor at Paste Magazine, but loves nerding out about all sorts of pop culture. You can find her on Twitter @LacyMB.

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