Frequently Asked Questions
1. What literary pilgrimages have you gone on?
For me, every book is like a pilgrimage. My writing space, thought process, journey of ideas, all take me on peculiar journeys all the time. Meeting with the expected and the unexpected thought are welcoming. Every book I write then is like a literary pilgrimage. For one go expectant, making every thought, every word written, count; the journey also allows review, of the mind, soul, thought and spirit. Pilgrimage, like a religious one, you kind of know what is at the end of the journey, it is however, the process that transforms the reader, an act of cleansing, revelation and at times, humbling.
2. What is the first book that made you cry?
Perhaps George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”. It is an inspirational and figurative look at society and how the same group of living things, in this case, domesticated animals on a farm, can be so wicked, ruthless, unforgiving and exploitative.
3. What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Two main things are believe can be attributed to this. The first is the rate / percentage authors are paid, being the main corridor and creator of the ideas. The second and perhaps most disturbing is the book graveyard. It cuts me deep when I see books been dumped and destroyed and the ideas and thoughts within the pages remain unreleased. Whilst some offensive books may be worthy of such treatment, the majority carry pearls of wisdom cocooned in delible shells.
4. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
When I write, I write until I empty the tank, that is, till the ideas are written down. However, the exhaustion is only temporary because the fuller, long lasting feeling is been energized. For without been excited, with great expectations, exhaust will become a rot.
5. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Time: often you are surprised how long it can take to complete a book from the initial ideas down in the first sentence to receive fee / payment for the completed work. Sometimes, due to numerous factors, a book can take as long as 10 years to complete. The duration of how long the process take should be put into perspective and should not be a determining agent to quit writing.
Expectations: everyone wants to be the No.1 Best selling author of the week, month, year, decade or since records began. Whilst it is possible to have a phenomenon launch and millions sold on the first day of release, it often takes 3-6months or longer to achieve such a level. In addition, the first release and a new author will be different to an established author that has become a celebrity. Sometimes it takes a while for a book to penetrate the market. However, with the advent of technology, social media etc. anything can happen
6. Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
Ego can destroy than help a writer. For you a creating a service for a select clientele. People buy into a book primarily because of the person, the character and what they represent. If one standpoint is take it or leave, I don’t care it your loss for not reading the book… it will soon be the author’s loss
7. What is your writing Kryptonite?
That will be telling… Come to think of it, nothing
8. Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
If it is in a language that is foreign to me, perhaps, but otherwise No.
9. Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?
Yes. John Light. Then I discovered it was a real name. Light I think is a great surname
10. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
Original all the time. That is why I chose to be a novelist and not a historian.
11. Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
There are many genres of writing and not all have to be emotionally entwined. I will be distraught if a purchased a maths book and they put the wrong answer with an asterix sign. You then go to the footnote and it says, hahaa, only joking, the answer is 47 with a little smiley face next to it. Actually, I’ve often looked for such an inserts, but to no avail… maybe I’m the only one
12. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have numerous friends that are authors, some are still living and others have passed away. The only unfortunate thing is, they do not know that we are friends though
13. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
At the moment, the books are stand alone. It will be great to have a connecting piece, that then becomes a series – it is possible
14. If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Write and keep writing, have a target to write at least one book a year, by age 12 you would have written 10 books. Actually, that’s what I’m going to tell my son.
15. How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
It gave me a new inputus.
16. How long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
About ten to twenty-five years. Everyone is a part-time writer or even a quarter time writer, for we all have a story we would like to share with other. Life is a wonderful gift, sharing memories, ideas and thoughts enriches it.
17. How many hours a day do you write?
Between 8 - 12 hours. The other time of the day is spent pouring life back into the spirit, body and mind.
18. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
I would say my young adult years. For here, you can cast the mind back and look forward into how things could be. It is complete joy wearing the retrospective and foresight hat, conceived in the illusionary present. For there is no now, the word “now” is held hostage for the “future”, instructed by the “past.”
19. What did you edit out of this book?”
The biggest thing omitted, if kept in, would have doubled the size of the book. The intention, which was completed at the time, was to add a version of the book in the language of the tribes. Painstaking effort was poured into the creation of the ancient unique language the tribes spoke with. Each word of the novel was then translated to the ngoutse language. It was edited out because it could becoming confusing. The novel is already an “abstract” book, adding this would have just confused and compounded things.
20. Have you read anything that made you think differently about fiction?
When you read some of the issues reported in the tabloid newspaper, you often say to yourself, “No, that cannot be real.” Even some things on the media is more disturbing than what can be penned in the figment of one’s imagination. Consequently, it is not only what we read, more importantly, it is also what we see. Some footage of war-torn places looked as if they were from pages of a descriptive, fictional novel. Fictional writing is actually more powerful that it is often perceived. Over the years, some of the circumstances described in my novel has happened in real life. It was like a de-ja-vu moment, sometimes it scary.
21. What are the ethics of writing about historical figures?
Been objective, solid research and have a different angle in approaching the person so it doesn’t read like an extended CV. Perhaps family background, wife/husband, career, profession, love, marital status / standpoint, favourite food etc. can be included. These topics I believe will give a more personal touch to what can be a “distant” rendition.
To be ethical is to present it as it is, so the writer is not making his or her own conclusion based on personal biases.
Say for example, the person is a notorious murderer, whilst this cannot be avoided been discussed, it is however not an avenue to be overtly critical without balancing out the emotions. For example, perhaps it was something from his childhood, breakdown in marriage, prejudice or pure plain narcissism. The ethical slant will be trying to find the causes, traits and motive.
22. How do you select the names of your characters?
In Jele, they had to be unique, short, easy to pronounce, sounds good and different. Also, in my second novel, one of the characters is called Matthew Mixxen-Maxwell, triple M for short. All aspects of writing should be fun, names and places form part of the essential ingredients in these
23. If you didn’t write, what would you do for work?
Architecture, design, preach, also wanted to be the best basketball player ever. What ever it is, my passion is to be the very best in it
24. Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with bad or good ones?
Reading reviews must be done delicately. Good ones can leave you on cloud nine, basking and reveling in glory. Alternatively, bad ones can make a writer be close to tears. I have selective memory on this issue – remember the good ones, forget the bad ones. Even Shakespeare had and still has negative reviewers
25. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
That will be telling. I have favourite numbers that are used in different orders. Also, sometimes, I am telling a story of what I have been through and experienced, however, you would not be able to guess which one or part
26. What was your hardest scene to write?
In Jele, when the hero discovered he could not go back. The realization, the desperation, the loss, the bitterness – it was all so sad
27. Do you Google yourself?
Yes, healthily and frequently
28. What one thing would you give up to become a better writer?
Any and all forms of 9-5
29. What are your favorite literary journals?
Any with self-help that deals with current affairs. Currently, not part of any.
30. What is your favorite childhood book?
I grew up and spent my early years in Nigeria and the book I could remember was “Alawiye.” This may have been a compulsory book for all schools because almost every one in Nigeria has read it. However, I have always find the BFG a fascinating book
31. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
I would say getting the information out the way it was first conceived in the mind and not losing the flow through the chiseling and editing stages. Writing in a creative fashion that still makes sense. Finishing with what was first conceived in the mind is of great importance
32. Does your family support your career as a writer?
Now that I have built them each a mansion on a private island they do. Only joking, they knew I had the ability to do anything I choose. On their side, first there was curiosity, then intrigue, followed by fascination, embracement and celebration.
“oh, you’ve written a book, ‘wicked,’” said my youngest sister
33. If you had to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
One is tempted to say read more and write more, but I would not go down that route. I would say play, explore, travel and question more. This opens up the imagination and fills the experience chamber which we draw from. Life is expressed experience; creative writing is experiencing the expressed in writing form
34. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
This depends on the project at hand, complexity, purpose etc., a book can be written in a weekend. I guess perhaps 2 novels per year
35. Do you believe in writer’s block?
36. Where do you get your inspirations from?
Life, imagination, experiences and combining all these in the mix of the mind.