Naija Stories has the Featured writer segment to celebrate our outstanding writers and their posts. Apart from the contest entries and featured series, Ayoks fiction series, Musings of a Hustler, got the most views in February so he was selected as the writer to feature for this month. We use the featured interview opportunity to encourage our writer members to continue promoting their works on the site and outside, and they are also rewarded with 10,000 NSpoints. Check out Ayoks portfolio, and his answers our usual questions below;
When and why did you begin writing?
Depends on which genre of writing you are referring to. I was a regular poetry writer back in my university days around the year 2000. Was driven into that because poetry was the only romantic way the ‘not so rich’ guys could get a girl’s attentions. And Boy! I was good at it. I also posted some on a poetry website…poetry.com or poem.com. I cannot recall the exact name now and actually got some awards in the process. My writings are not limited to ‘entertainment’ though. I also write on politics, law and the economy. Quite a number of my write ups have been published by different newspapers, magazines and online media. If you Google my name, you will see some. My writing in this regard started sometime around 2007. However, prose and short stories are a recent venture and one I am actually getting to really enjoy. So for prose writing, I think I started writing only this year.
Tell us more about yourself and what inspired the Hustler series?
Even I can’t fully define myself. The easiest was I can describe myself is to see myself as an individual who does things that catch my fancy or anything I enjoy. Whatever it is though, I never rest till I am the best in it. “A case of whatever your hand finds to do, do it well”. This explains the extremely divergent things I do.
First, my real name is Ayokunle Ayoko. I am a lawyer, a Banker, Blogger (www.treasureislandbbm.blogspot.com), newspaper columnist, political and economic commentator, TV Sports/Legal Analyst (Channels TV) and Swimming instructor(only me o!). I love reading, football, researching, writing, swimming, watching movies and documentaries and also playing games.
“Musings of a Hustler” is my first serious write up. I always had bits and pieces of story plots in my head but was always lazy to put it down in writing. Then I came across “Finding Hubby” advert on Nairaland and started following the story on Naija Stories. It was a really nice story, then I got the motivation to write because I felt I could write something equally, if not more qualitative.
Why do you think it is so popular with readers?
I wish I knew! (lol). I try to write things I imagine I myself would luv to read- a real ‘as it usually happens in real life’ kind of story. Besides, hustling is something everyone does. We all hustle and the things the Main Character (MC) faces are things a lot of girls go through but shy away from discussing openly. That’s my perspective. Readers may have other elements they prefer.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I think the use of suspense is important. This makes the reader look forward to the next episode. Another technique imbued in the story is the ‘shock the reader’ factor. You will notice that some episodes contain narrations the reader will ordinarily not read elsewhere- graphic details of things other writers would prefer to edit out. That’s a skill I learnt from Starz’s Spartacus. Reliving a story the way it is in its raw form gives the readers a feeling of ‘anything can happen’. I think that ‘we don’t know what we can expect’ factor makes the story very interesting. These are all the styles you will notice in my writings.
What books have most influenced your life and or writing, the most?
Strangely I don’t really read one particular book. I read bits and pieces of informative articles, insights, historical books and online media. I spend a lot of time researching on Google and Wikipedia. I am a sucker for anything educative. For writing though, I love John Grisham and Sydney Sheldon’s books although I can’t say I have imbibed their style. For my style though, I can’t really put a name on any. I just write according to the story’s mega theme-in this instance; as the musings of a hustling girl.
What books are you reading now?
As stated earlier. Any interesting book will do. Recently however, I have been spending time reading Omogui’s accounts of the Nigerian Civil war and different coups though; online that is. Other than that, I have focused on books helping me do research for office work.
What are your current projects? Any New Year Resolutions for 2013?
I don’t believe in resolutions. My general resolution is to always improve on my way of doing things. Working on a lot of office based projects. Personally though, settling down is my biggest project in view (winks).
Do you have writing as a career or see it as one?
Writing is a really good career especially if you enjoy it and you are creative. For me though, writing is more of a hobby for now. I may go into it full throttle later in my life. You can never say never.
Can you share a little about your writing with us?
I write about my thinking at any particular point. Like Topazo, I guess I write as I am inspired.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
My biggest challenge is Time. Time to write and review the stories is my biggest challenge. My regular work is demanding and I have had to write under pressure of time or when I normally should be resting. I am however up for the challenge though.
Who is your favorite author? Do you have a writing mentor?
Sheldon is good. Grisham is also good. I don’t have a mentor though. I don’t believe in the concept. In Naija stories though, I love Malcom Iffi, Tunde Leye, Da Queen, Mimi Adebayo, Shatzien, shykielz, elovepoetry, howyoudey, Topazo etc. They write well and I always follow their stories.
I will give it to Sheldon.
What do you think of the Nigerian publishing industry?
It is still at the budding stage but I have no doubt that it will continue developing especially with the increasing number of writers being developed daily. For this, NS and other similar sites should be commended.
How do you see the role of online publishers including naijastories.com?
They are doing a really great job in bringing the reading culture back. Their role isn’t limited to this though. They also help to develop writers and writings skills of the writers and I wish they should be encouraged in whichever way possible.
What comments do you have about the reading culture in the country?
The reading culture is speedily declining and it explains the low number of views for other stories which are although qualitative (for instance “The Outcast” which I consider deep and intriguing) but devoid of sexual content. Only story laced contents are followed well. This shouldn’t be. Similarly, people don’t realize that reading wide helps. It has helped me immensely at work. For instance, I get responsibilities that even people with degrees in the subject are not trusted enough to do. Reading empowers. You need to see how excited I was when I read about ‘Kokura’s luck’ or the Nanking massacre. I realized a lot of knowledge and history are buried and can only be unearthed through reading.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
First, I want to urge NS members to significantly reduce the harsh criticisms given to writers we consider as poor. For one, another writer can be like you or write according to your style. Besides, encouragement is key. We should encourage anyone who has posted even if we consider it substandard.
To everyone, I wish to say ‘thank you’ for reading my stories and the comments that you make on the stories. I will strive to make it more qualitative. Naija Stories as a concept should be saluted. The person behind the concept for me is a visionary. I would love to physically meet the NS family sometime in future. I love you all.
Answer the following
Ice cream or chocolate? Ice cream
Football or Basketball? Football
Ebook or paperbacks? Ebook
Salty or sweet? sweet
Beach or mountains? Beach
Phone call or textmessage? Phone call
Early bird or night owl? Early bird
Dog or cat? Dog
Messy or neat? neat
Heroes or Villains? Heroes