My Next Big Thing!

Last August, I had the privilege of participating in the Farafina Trust Creative Writers’ Workshop, annually organized by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie in partnership with the Farafina Trust. It had been my third attempt and the quality of writers who made the final shortlist of 22 was a testimony to how much the workshop had grown and how competitive it had become. A total of 987 entries had reportedly been received from around the globe. Every participant at the workshop brought a unique trait and contribution to the table and I still battle the sense of nostalgia when I recall the two-week life changing experience.

Yewande Omotoso

One of us (the participants) whom we would all have voted as Class Captain if such was allowed is Yewande Omotoso, a young Nigerian born in Barbados. She grew up in Nigeria with her Nigerian father, West Indian mother and two older brothers. She and her family moved to South Africa in 1992 and have lived there ever since. She is an architect; space and buildings being a passion of hers second only to words and literature. She has lived in Cape Town and currently in Johannesburg, working as a designer, freelance writer and novelist. Later in the year, she would go on to win the English First-time Published Author Award at the 2012 South African Literary Awards for her debut novel BOM BOY. The Nigerian edition is to be released in the first quarter of 2013. I can’t wait to lap up the story and interview her exclusively! You can follow her on twitter @yomotoso and read her blog at 1of6billion. One more thing, you can purchase a copy from Amazon here: Bom Boy or an e-version on African Books Collective.

Recently, Yewande invited me to participate in The Next Big Thing, “an opportunity for writers in the blogosphere to tell readers what they’ve been working on, and introduce them to the works of other writers they may or may not already be fans of. A kind of chain cake except there’s no baking involved or a relay race without the baton or hotpants and everyone’s a winner.” She answered questions about her next big thing HERE. Its working title is “Your House is on Fire” [what a title! :)]. We had a privilege of listening to her read excerpts from it at the Farafina workshop, and I tell, you just have to be on the look-out!

The last two paragraphs have been about Yewande, and I guess I should await my check already, right? Let’s get to Part 2 of this post!

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Gbenga Awomodu

I can imagine the joy people feel when hold copies of their first book, novel, short story collection, poetry collection, whatever it is! I have stories to tell, but I am not in a hurry to get them out there. The Next Big Thing (literature) I am working on slowly but surely is what could be my first published novel. Here’s more about it:

What is the working title of your book?
Ababuo. Incidentally, that happens to be the name of the main character at the moment.

Where did the idea come from for the book?
I had been obsessing over the Ghana-must-go bags and the story behind the name. I heard many tales about how really good/competent Ghanaian teachers were, especially those who taught Maths and English in Nigeria. I had some childhood friends whose parents hired a Ghanaian as a private tutor in the 90’s. It is fascinating how a nation whose citizens were kicked out of Nigeria a few decades back is beginning to find its bearing. I also find it intriguing the huge amounts of money Nigerians now spend sending their children over there for education and other benefits. I imagined how some of those Ghanaians who were brutally evicted from Nigeria felt at the time, and how those of them still alive reflect on that experience now. I wanted to explore various characters and ideas surrounding bilateral relations, etc.

What genre does your book fall under?
Historical fiction; hope nothing much changes about that in the end.

Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
Would I want to even get the novel or parts of it adapted into a movie? Maybe, but I am wary of filmmakers and actors/actresses not interpreting the characters adequately. One thing I am sure of is that the movie would cast a handful of Ghanaian actors alongside that beautiful accent.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
A young girl, trapped in a foreign land, is fascinated about returning to her home country amidst news of economic resurgence, and she has to overcome vices and inhibitions, both internal and external, to lift her family; but she must also survive the political intrigues she stumbles into in her journey.

When will your book be published?
2015. I would rather not follow the self-publishing route for this particular book. Hopefully, my final draft in the first quarter of 2014 would catch some lovely agent’s fancy.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
Now, that’s a tough one. The final draft is still in my head!  I am still having those lengthy conversations in my head, and getting to know the characters better. If my baby-steps approach works, I would have spent between 9 months and a full year writing the first draft. That would include lots of research and perhaps stealing into Ghana if I ever get a holiday this year. I agree with Yewande Omotosho who wrote in her post “I find it takes longer in the beginning and then it speeds up at the end.”

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
The multifaceted analyses transformed into a narrative might interest the geeks and political analysts. Nevertheless, fiction should also be interesting and entertaining, so I’m not lost on those.

Oops! The chain cake stroke relay race moves on to Adebola Rayo and Mazi Fred Nwonwu who will blog about their next big thing on Wednesday 16th January 2013.
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Adebola Rayo is a full time writer and editor. She works at Kachifo Limited, publishers of Farafina Books. Her short stories and articles have been published in several newspapers and magazines. Rayo’s next big thing, she thinks, is a collection of a few long short stories. Some of the stories are fiction, and some are faction (fictionalised telling of actual events). She blogs at all4words.blogspot.com where she will be posting about her next big thing next week.

Chiagozie Fred Nwonwu, who prefers the Igbo male title, Mazi, to the English Mr. is a writer and freelance journalist. Melrose Books—who are taking a crack at fiction, away from their traditional educational publications—will publish his short story collection ‘Footsteps on the Hallway’ in the second quarter of 2013. Mazi Nwonwu blogs at fredrnwonwu.blogspot.com and publishes book reviews at 7venhillsmedia.wordpress.com. His short story ‘Masquerade stories’ was recently selected for Africa’s first Science fiction anthology. By next week, I am sure he would have decided which is truly his next big thing, either a Crime Thriller set in Lagos [Working title is: ‘Death is a Woman’] or a science fiction short story collection.

Photo credit: www.elisedillsworthagency.com