‘Giv­ing an empty page life is a gift’

Sunday Trust - - ART & IDEAS -

What are your top three books?

This is a very dif­fi­cult ques­tion to be hon­est. In re­cent times I have been read­ing a lot of He­len Oyeyemi and Nnedi Oko­rafor. And mak­ing me choose three books out of all their great works is like ask­ing me to choose an ice-cream fla­vor.

Where do you get your great­est ideas for writ­ing?

From ev­ery­day life. I get my in­spi­ra­tion from sto­ries I hear on buses and from the women that sur­round me.

What is your great­est re­gret as an au­thor?

I ac­tu­ally have none. Ev­ery sac­ri­fice has been worth it.

When did you de­cide to be­come a writer?

I can’t say pre­cisely be­cause I have been writ­ing since I could string words to­gether. My evo­lu­tion, my be­com­ing a full-time writer hap­pened quite nat­u­rally.

Af­ter get­ting short­listed for the NLNG prize for ‘Eno’s Story’ I wrote two more chil­dren’s sto­ries (‘King of the Heap’ and ‘King of the Heap learns to Read’), one Young Adult (‘Chil­dren of the Rain­bow’) and sev­eral short sto­ries for on­line jour­nals. One of the sto­ries, ‘Adunni: The Beau­ti­ful Ones Have Not Yet Died’ was pub­lished by I’m not one for pass­ing across mes­sages. I just want the reader to ex­pe­ri­ence the lives of my char­ac­ters, to feel their joy, their pain. Brit­tlePaper and is presently avail­able on Okada Books.

Do you have a spe­cial writ­ing time?

Most of my writ­ing is done at night, usu­ally be­tween 11pm and 4am. Dur­ing school term I have to wake up early to take the chil­dren to school. I use day­time to rest and do less de­mand­ing work. Some­times I write seven days a week, but some­times I take time off to rest, to teach or go on short hol­i­days.

Do you aim for a set amount of words/ pages per day?

Not re­ally. I tried that some years ago and it didn’t work for me be­cause as soon as I set a goal and I don’t meet it I get re­ally anx­ious. These days I go with the flow. Once I have a dead­line I al­ways meet it. The process of writ­ing ‘Lakiri­boto Chron­i­cles’ re­ally helped in my evo­lu­tion, both as a hu­man be­ing and as a writer. I no longer see things in black and white, I am also more con­cerned about women and our im­por­tant role in pol­icy mak­ing that will make Nige­ria a home we can all be proud of.

is the hard­est thing about

What writ­ing?

Rewrites. Af­ter writ­ing some­thing you con­sider re­ally amaz­ing, send­ing it out for re­view and edit­ing and be­ing asked to re­write or even re­move whole chap­ters. I used to get so up­set when my writ­ings come back heav­ily lined with red. But I think I’m get­ting bet­ter these days, at least I no longer cry as I delete or re­move the things I have writ­ten.

What mes­sage are you try­ing to pass to read­ers and the so­ci­ety in gen­eral through your book?

I’m not one for pass­ing across mes­sages. I just want the reader to ex­pe­ri­ence the lives of my char­ac­ters, to feel their joy, their pain. I want them to en­joy the process of read­ing my books as much as it dis­turbs them.I want to make them think, re­con­sider and maybe change.

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