We chatted with the force that is Yomi Adegoke to discuss grey areas, balance, and filling lockdown with fiction.

What would you do if you saw your partner’s name on a ‘Media Abusers’ exposé list? This chilling notion is explored brilliantly by acclaimed writer Yomi Adegoke in her highly anticipated debut novel, The List.


Pitted as ‘one of the most anticipated British debuts of the coming year’, Yomi’s debut explores what happens to the internet-famous couple Ola and Michael, when an anonymous list of allegations appears online.


Yomi has already seen enormous success with her Best Selling Non Fiction, Slay In Your Lane, (with co-author Elizabeth Uviebinené). She has a rich journalistic career writing for the likes of Vogue and The Independent and has presented for The Women’s Prize for Fiction podcast. It is fitting, for a writer with such a vast career and passion for people and their stories, to move into writing fiction of this kind. It is at once balanced, unique, and devastating. With believable and complex characters, beautifully realised dialogue and an undeniably page turning plot – this sharp novel will be your favourite read this summer. And due to its depth of morality and humanity at its most complicated, it will also certainly be a catalyst for your most intriguing dinner table debates.

Hey Yomi! How are you feeling about having your debut fiction out in the world?

I’m anxious! I’m so anxious. I think I’m quite an anxious person generally, but I thought I’d feel differently because I’ve done this before. I’ve co-written books with my best friend, but this is my first fiction, which is really different and I’m doing it on my own. But I’d be remiss if I didn’t say that I’m really excited as well. It feels very much like the calm before a hopefully exciting and life-changing storm. I’m just waiting with bated breath.

It’s a different journey for you because you’ve had a great career in journalism and you had huge success with Slay In Your Lane. What made you make the move into writing fiction?

Lockdown! I wanted to do fiction of sorts years ago, in the same way that everyone wants to be like an astronaut or a pop star when they’re a child. When I was a kid I didn’t have a PS2, so I remember our dad bought us this PC game called Storybook Weaver. It was basically like a really nerdy game where you just wrote books. Since then I hadn’t really thought about fiction writing for a really long time and then it was lockdown and everyone else was baking. I was like well, I’m a really rubbish cook, but I love to paint so I was doing self-portraits and then I just practically ran out of canvas.


Originally I had this idea to do The List as a kind of report nonfiction piece of writing at the height of Me Too. I think a few years after looking at it as a non-fiction piece of writing, I wanted to do it as a play – that was terrible haha, and then it was like, well I’ve got lockdown, I have a lot of time, I can experiment with it as fiction.

That’s so interesting because I was going to ask how the process of writing it was. With reporting on the Me Too movement I imagine there were a lot of news stories that came up that informed the writing of the story. Were there any surprises along the way when you were writing it?

Loads! For a start, The List was originally just from Ola’s perspective, and you only saw Michael through Ola’s eyes. I found it really interesting the way women are affected by the allegations of abuse that surround a man in their life, whether that’s their dad, their brother, their partner, or their son. The way women are almost excluded from that conversation or have our preconceptions projected onto them. I noticed [during the wave of Me Too] that Scarlett Johansson had worn a Marchesa dress designed by Harvey Weinstein’s wife after the Weinstein scandal broke, and everyone was saying that supporting the wife with that gesture was a kind of implicit support of Harvey Weinstein. And I thought that was really interesting, maybe I’m being gracious, but I thought it’s more likely that his wife wasn’t aware of what he’d been doing, and Scarlett was trying to support her, but the language around it was just lambasting Scarlett Johansson because obviously supporting his wife is supporting him. It was almost biblical, like man and wife as one flesh, as though his crimes are hers. So I thought, I really want this to just be about Ola. And I wanted to look at Ola and have her perspective and question what it is like to be a woman in that position. And then as time went on I felt that something was missing. And I think that was Michael’s perspective. That was a really big change.

That’s so interesting that it wasn’t from his perspective because I did want to talk to you about the characters. I feel as though you’ve covered an amazing spectrum of really fleshed-out characters from every angle of what people might experience when things like this arise. I learned a lot about myself reading this, and I think that’s why the book is going to spark so much debate and conversation. What do you hope that your readers are gonna get from this spectrum of characters?

Honestly, I think that is the dream response. I always say I’m a habitual fence sitter. I don’t think in absolutes at all. I’m a real grey-area person. But then simultaneously, I definitely feel like even with the writing of this book, I was in real time working out I suppose what my feelings were in relation to it.


I wanted to really try to portray the widest spectrum possible of realities in a situation like this. First and foremost The List touches on cancel culture and Me Too. But it’s a book about the Internet and I think the Internet is probably one of the most powerful inventions of the 21st century. It shows us a lot about human nature. I think we are all aware of its power, and how polarising it is, and how it forces black-and-white thinking. But none of us really (myself included) take the time to kind of acknowledge where we fit within that. In the writing of [these characters] it forced me to think about myself and how complicit I am in the nature of the internet and how it removes nuance and grey areas from a conversation.

I think it’s so brave to pick these subjects. I’m trying to write a book myself at the minute and when I was reading this I was thinking, gosh, there are so many brave choices that you make. I found it really, really exciting.

I love when I hear that!  I love when I hear journalists say, ‘oh, I’m gonna write a book’. I’m like, yes! I just love to hear it. I definitely don’t take for granted that fiction writing’s a different skill set. But that being said, I’m excited to hear about journalists writing fiction because I think you having that journalistic approach means you are used to having to show both sides of a story. You’re used to having to explore grey areas and nuance and I think when I read a lot of fiction by journalists, it does feel like it’s a bit more daring.

Are you gonna be moving back into non-fiction? Or are you gonna be going on a journey with fiction? What’s next?

I actually was steadfast in the fact that I didn’t want to do fiction again. Not because I didn’t enjoy it, but because I just had an idea and I didn’t have broad fiction aspirations generally. So I was like, I’ve got this idea, I’m confident in this idea and I’m gonna execute it. And then I did and I was like, okay, I guess that’s that. But when it came to the auction, most of the publishers were offering two-book deals and I remember I kept saying to my agent, ‘oh you know what, I don’t wanna take a two-book deal cause I don’t know if I have another idea like this’, and I don’t want to write something for the sake of it. But then there was one more equally contentious controversial idea that I did want to do an article on as well several years ago. So I thought, if I do get a two-book, I do have this other idea that I think is really kind of fertile for conversation. So I have started writing that, that’s book two. I can’t really go into too much detail about it, but I am really excited. I think it will be another conversation starter.


The List – soon to be a major TV series, is out now via 4th Estate and available to order.