I met Gbenga Awomodu, online, I can’t recall if it was on Facebook or in the early days of Naijastories, but we connected online and since we both live in Lagos and shared an interest in event reviews and journalism, the chances of us meeting outside of the electronic world of social media was high. We met a couple of times outside of social media before the Farafina Trust Creative Writing Workshop brought us face to face again in August 2012. The story of my generation of writers actually played out in that workshop. Of the 22 participants, I had only ever met Gbenga in person before the workshop, but Richard Ali, Abdulaziz Abdulaziz, and Samuel Tosin Kolawole were already (Facebook connected) friends of mine, even though I had never met them in person. I still shiver at that social media strangeness that allows you know people intimately before you meet them in person. I was also meeting Yemisi Ogbe for the first time, but I knew her work as a food writer with the now sadly defunct Next Newspaper, where I also had the privilege of contributing articles, and we happen to have mutual admiration for each other’s work—I discovered that out during the course of the workshop. I summarised my workshop experience here and Yewande Omotosho did here, so we can skip all the long tori and bite into the meat of this one.
So, Yewande sent me an email—actually a mail, a twitter DM and a Facebook inbox, in that order—about the Next Big Thing project. Since I was ensconced in my ancestral village getting cozy with the spirits of my fathers, I only got to see the messages after she had posted her Next Big Thing story. Since our mutual connectivity is still in play, it was natural that one of the persons (Gbenga and Nana) she handed the baton over to would look my wayJ
So—I so like that word, so tori tellerish—that is the story of how you came to be reading this, perhaps, boring narrative.
Anyway, this is supposed to be about my Next Big Thing as Yewande, Nana, Gbenga and many others did before me, so let get to it.
What is the working title of your book?
Death is a woman—I know, e no sweet for mouth, but that’s why they call it working title J
Where did the idea come from for the book?
What genre does your book fall under?
Crime fiction, maybe, I am not so much into labels
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I actually play with scenes from the WIP in my head and try to see my characters from camera angles, so visualising actors as the characters should be easy, but it is not J. However, I would love Omotola as Bimbo Kasim, Idris Elba would definitely fit in as her husband Balogun Kasim and that Dumalo guy from Ghana would be perfect for Sola—he would have to lose some pounds though J. Omotola would be apt because of her built and her personality—you can say I used her as a model for Bimbo. Idris has a stern exterior and from what I have seen him do with the roles he has played, he would perfectly embody a streetwise politician with a taste for literature and fine women. I don’t really know why I picked Dumalo for Sola, maybe because I couldJ. Thinking about it now, I wonder if he can handle Lagos street lingo.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
Balogun Kasim, a wealthy street-bred politician discovers his wife Bimbo is having an affair, consumed by jealousy, he makes plans to have her killed, believing it’s a justifiable punishment for her betrayal, fate has other plans and the contract falls into the laps of a gang Bimbos former boyfriend Sola is affiliated with, then things get very crazy and interesting. In the end, Bimbo kills Balogun in self-defence and somewhere in the mix they discover that Sola and the Balogun are actually brothers. Like I said, it is still a work in progress so...
When will your book be published?
I hope in 2014. I am doing my best to ensure the story is captivating enough for publishers to want it, so my fingers are crossed.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
I started writing it in 2009. Actually, I wrote the first three paragraphs in 2009 and later published a longer version in Naijastories in 2011. I should have finished writing now, as the story is already complete in my head, but I had several book projects in my head at once—I finished a short story collection last year and it is already with a publisher, I also began working on a science fiction short story collection. We have to keep food on the table—I write for a living, and that is grounds for serious conflict between personal projects and the day job thingy. However, this book, which is half way done actually, will be finished this year.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
I actually wanted to write a story about relationships, about the inability for people to break with their past, no matter how hard they try. With this story, I tried to get into the skin of the individuals and show why they do the things they do, the reason behind their decisions. It is more the story of Sola and Balogun Kasim than it is about a man reacting to his wife’s infidelity. It is also a story of Lagos’s underside, that place people don’t really talk about.
I don too tuk. I am handing this baton over to two super guys, two of Nigeria’s brightest literary talents: Emmanuel Iduma and Nze Sylva Ifedigbo. They really don’t need introduction (Google should have automatic links to them by now) but formality sake calls for it.
Emmanuel Iduma is the author of Farad, a novel. A Lawyer by training, he works mainly as a writer and manager of creative projects. His first book, Farad, was published in July 2012 by Parresia Publishers, and has been warmly received across the country. Iduma is co-publisher of Saraba Magazine, editor of 3bute.com (recipient of a 2012 Highway Telkom Award for Innovative Use of Media) and content management supervisor of Invisible Borders Trans-African Photography Project. Check out his blog here. As for Emma’s Next Big Thing, with a TEDx event and another, hopefully crazily brilliant, book in the works...I can only say wait and be wowed.
Sylva Nze Ifedigbo prides himself as being a core Nigerian. He hails from the east, grew up in the north and now lives in the west of the country. He is an award winning fiction writer and essayist whose works has appeared both online and in print. Nze, as he will prefer to be called, trained as a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Nigeria Nsukka but today pursues his other interests in writing and public relations. He has written for a number of online platforms including NEXT, Nigeria Village Square, and Daily Times. Last year he served as ambassador for the Coca-Cola Nigeria “A billion reasons to believe in Africa” campaign. He has two published work; Whispering Aloud a novella (Spectrum Books 2007) and The Funeral Did Not End a stories collection (DADA Books, 2012). Nze is working on a full-length project, a novel that will tell in part, his Lagos story and his fascination with death.
Come January 23rd, Emma and Nze will blog about their next big thing. expect to be captivated.