In the second week of January, NS published the submissions for the Christmas Nostalgia contest and several stories immediately caught the attention of most readers. One of those stories was Seun Odukoya’s Cowards and Christmas Chickens. His story got over 386 views and 72 comments, and the comments are just as fun to read as the humor-filled coming-of-age story of a teenager, his heartthrob and a chicken. Seun-Odukoya is another long-time member of NaijaStories, and has contributed lots of interesting stories to the site, as well as adding a sense of community through engaging in the Forums. Enjoy his interview.
When and why did you begin writing?
Ah…that’s a tough one. Let’s see…I used to write a lot of poetry and draw when I was young (primary school); but the emphasis was on drawing. And then I woke up one day and couldn’t draw anymore. That’s the truth.
To answer your question however (sorry); it was early in my secondary school I really began to embrace writing. I was quite ‘ugly’; with a big butt and large tummy so I had no friends. I found solace in my own company – and the writing evolved from there.
How did you feel writing Cowards and Christmas Chickens. Did it make you feel you were sharing too much?
Not in the slightest. It was just one of those childhood memories I’m comfortable laughing about these days so…
And I honestly like any excuse to think about Peju…so I was quite comfortable writing it.
Do you have a specific writing style?
I should hope not!
Do you have a major theme that runs through most of your work?
If I had to choose themes; I think it would have to be (wait for it)…creativity (is that even a theme in the ‘theme’ sense of…themes?! LOL!!). I think. I just like to challenge people – challenge formulas.
What books have most influenced your life most?
Strangely, Barbara Cartland romances novels; as ‘silly’ as they could be sometimes, were some of my earliest reads. Westerns; read a lot of that too. Read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy when I was fourteen; a punishment from my pa for burning some of his original works by Dickens accidentally (unbelievable; I know). Stephen King too…Dickens, Huckleberry Finn, a lot of books. I like ‘The Picture of Dorian Grey’ by Oscar Wilde.. A lot of books o!
What books are you reading now?
Just finished ‘A Storm of Swords’ by R.R Martin, the third in the ‘A Game Of Thrones’ trilogy. Now reading ‘The Art of Seduction’ by Robert Greene and ‘Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul part II’.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest? Do you have a writing mentor?
New authors? Maybe the ones on Naija Stories…haven’t had access to Kiru Taiye’s/Mayne Whitman’s books…want to read Jude Dibia too. I enjoyed ‘Tomorrow Died Yesterday’ by Chimeka Garricks…
‘Writing mentor’? No I don’t.
What are your current projects? Any goals for 2012?
Working on two short stories in the horror/science fiction categories…wrapping up my first full-length novel ‘Sometimes’; it’s romance…and editing two short story compilations. Mine. Just finished editing Xikay’s ‘Devil’s Pawn’ – an INTERESTING experience.
Wrote the pilot episode for a new TV series; it’s been shot and I’ll soon start work on the first season proper.
Goals? To see all of the above shared by the rest of the world – plus a few more besides…
Who has supported you the most outside of family members?
Er…there was this girl…
And of course, all the great guys on NS.
Do you see writing as a career?
Of course. Why spend so much time at it if it’s not…if I don’t see as that?
Can you share a little about your writing with us?
I don’t write genres. I am a writer. I always challenge myself – I’m always trying to outdo myself. Every time I write, I try to give the reader something new – something different from what he/she got last time. Sometimes I’m bothered that the ‘unrestricted genre’ thing might be an issue – like it might backfire; but no one has spoken to me about it, so…
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
So many things…but I love challenges. Why not…is what I always think when facing one of those. WHY NOT?!
Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
Stephen King. Loius L’amour. James Hadley Chase. Plus ten billion others.
King because he taught me ANYTHING can be a story…anything. L’amour because he’s so on point with his descriptions and characters. There’s something poetic about the way he writes. Chase because he taught me the value of research. He’s a Frenchman – (Rene Brabazon Raymond was his real name) who only visited the States twice during his life. Yet he wrote about it in so great detail…I also like the way he describes stuff. Simplicity was/is his benchmark.
What do you think of the Nigerian publishing industry?
Things seem to be moving on up lately…it’s interesting to note that so many publishers are springing up out of the woodwork. I just hope they take the writers and their works seriously – as seriously as we take our stuff.
What comments do you have about the reading culture in the country?
Forget what you think you know – Nigerians read. And it is getting better and better with reading workshops everywhere. IT IS GROWING and expanding.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Sigh. I don’t what to say – except thank them for the criticisms, the compliments, the messages, the love, patience, support, encouragement, well wishes…(I don’t know, is that enough?). Buy my books!
There is a This or That game going on in the writing game forum. Please share your best 10 out of it and your selections.
MTN or Airtel? MTN
Garri or cornflakes? Garri
Acting or painting? Acting
Rock or rap? Er…love both but rap wins
Writing or Reading? One is impossible without the other!
Seun or Kaycee? Who else?!
For writing: Pen or System? PEN
Wife or Mistress? Mistress; the wife could tend to be a tad boring. Been ‘there’.
Beauty or Intelligence? Intelligence. Rare.
Singing or Dancing? SINGING. Most definitely.
I just want to say what a great job it is you guys are doing here. I know how I wrote when I started – and I know how I write now. I thank everyone on NS…and I mean EVERYONE; including you.