BOOKS ARE MEANT TO CHANGE LIVES – FOLUKE SIJUWOLA FALAYI, IBC GUEST WRITER/READER OF THE MONTH
Foluke Sijuwola Falayi
Foluke Sijuwola Falayi has written over twenty (20 books). Some of her titles include: The Slaves in the Palace, Flub, Bond, Ugo and Ify at Christmas, The Little Prince and The Sluggish Servant, The Rainy Day, Ada in Port Harcourt, Trouble in the Exam, The Last Penny, The Pride of Parents, A Night at Edet’s House, One Two Three Poetry, Beans for Supper, Akeju’s Turnaround, The Gift from Ibadan and Sam Goes to College. In this interview with Wole Adedoyin, she shares with him brief facts about her life and writing career.
WA: WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO START WRITING?
FSF: I will just say it is providence, to cut a long story short.
WA: HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN WRITING?
FSF: I have been writing since my secondary school days, informally anyway.
WA: WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?
FSF: I started writing officially over a decade ago. My debut book was published in 2008. I started writing that particular book in 2004.
WA: HAVE YOU ALWAYS WANTED TO BE A WRITER?
FSF: No, initially, I didn’t want to. I was afraid I won’t be able to make a living out of it.
WA: WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE A NEW WRITER, SOMEONE JUST STARTING OUT?
FSF: If you desire to be a writer, you must have passion for the art. It is the passion that will propel and keep you going before any proceeds. You must also master the craft, writing is a craft. You must be an avid reader. Know the genre you are writing about.
WA: HOW DO YOU HANDLE WRITER’S BLOCK?
FSF: I take time off.
WA: HOW MANY BOOKS HAVE YOU WRITTEN?
FSF: I have written over twenty books.
WA: WHAT IS THE MOST SURPRISING THING YOU DISCOVERED WHILE WRITING YOUR BOOK(S)?
FSF: The more you work on your manuscript the finer it gets. Never rush your work.
WA: WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE CHARACTER?
FSF: I have favourite characters not just one.
WA: DO YOU HAVE A FAVOURITE CHARACTER THAT YOU HAVE WRITTEN? IF SO, WHO? AND WHAT MAKES THEM SO SPECIAL
FSF: I love Tonye, a female character in Sam Goes to College. I love Atikah, a little female Hausa girl in Repose- they are prototypes of what is right, what every female should be. They stand for equality, they are knowledgeable and frown at any form of relegation.
Reverend Moses/Obinna in the Reverend’s Daughter exemplifies fairness, integrity, reformation and discipline our society needs.
Sanni, in The Headmaster’s Boy, Tomobi in Unbending Steel,Ete in A Night at Edet’s House- they are male archetypes of patience, hard work and endurance. Nothing comes cheap in life.
WA: WHERE DO YOU GET YOUR INSPIRATION?
FSF: I get inspirations anywhere and everywhere. God, the giver of all gifts lavishes it on me without restrain.
WA: WHERE CAN READERS PURCHASE YOUR BOOKS?
FSF: Through me and our marketing team.
WA: WHERE CAN READERS FIND OUT MORE ABOUT YOU AND YOUR BOOKS?
FSF: Through our website and email address: email@example.com.
WA: HAVE ANY OF YOUR BOOKS BEEN MADE INTO AUDIOBOOKS?
FSF: We are yet to make audio books.
WA: IF SO, WHAT ARE THE CHALLENGES IN PRODUCING AN AUDIO BOOK?
FSF: We have not gone into that, therefore we have not experienced any challenge in that line.
WA: WHICH OF YOUR BOOKS WERE THE MOST ENJOYABLE TO WRITE?
FSF: I find all my books pleasurable to write perhaps for the passion I have for it.
WA: TELL US ABOUT YOUR FIRST PUBLISHED BOOK?
FSF: My first book was published in 2008. It is entitled Bond. It raises a question of time healing old wounds. It tells a story of love, grief, repentance, restoration and forgiveness. It has many literary elements for a first time author which made reviewers in different states, ministries of education approved it to be read for years.
WA: WHAT WAS THE JOURNEY LIKE?
FSF: The journey has been interesting, exciting and full of encounters just like any other profession.
WA: WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF GOOD WRITING?
FSF: Study the grammar of the language; word classes, figures of speech and the rest. Study your genre and understand the point of views.
WA: WHO’S YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR OF ALL TIME?
FSF: I have favourite authors not just one author possibly because of my first course of study; English and Literature, the themes, imagery and symbols inherent in some of the books I studied in school. The books I read as a university undergraduate was innumerable; Nigerian Literature, African Literature, American Literature, European Literature and other kinds.
I will mention some of my authors and books of all time: Buchi Emecheta’s Second Class Citizen and The Joys of Motherhood, Wole Soyinka’s Kongi’s Harvest, The Lion and the Jewel, A Play of Giants and others. Femi Osofisan’s Midnight Hotel. I read Chinua Achebe’s Things Fall Apart as a little girl. I remember, I read it over and over and proceeded to read his, No Longer at Ease, A Man of the People and Arrow of God. Amos Tutuola’s The Palmwine Drinkard, Niyi Osundare’s Selected Poems, Festus Iyayi’s Violence, Elechi Amadi’s The Concubine, Zaynab Alkali’s The Still Born, Ayi Kwei Armah’s The Beautyful Ones Are Not yet Born, Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s The Grain of the Wheat, The Trials of Dedan Kimathi,Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Purple Hibiscus and Americanah, these are some of my favourite works and authors.
Foreign works and authors like- Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Beckett’s Waiting for Godot, Charles Dickens’ Hard Times, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness,James Baldwin’sGo Tell It on the Mountain, Jane Austen’s -The Pride and Prejudice and the first English Literature Defoe’s Robinson Crusoe. I celebrate these authors, the dead and those who are still living.
WA: ON YOUR LATEST BOOK TITLED “REPOSE”, CAN YOU SHARE WITH US SOMETHING ABOUT THE BOOK.
FSF: My latest work is entitled- Repose. It promotes female education. It talks about gender equality. Female children must be educated. They have right to education.
WA: WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION FOR THE STORY?
FSF: I got inspired while I studied and prepared for my postgraduate exam in Feature Writing. There was an article I read and I couldn’t go on reading until I made a sketch of flashes coming to my mind on a little brilliant Hausa girl. She loves education, doing well in school but her father has another plan; to give her out in marriage due to ignorance and financial gain.
WA: WHAT IS THE KEY THEME AND/OR MESSAGE IN THE BOOK?
FSF: Female education and a child’s right to education.
WA: WHAT DO YOU HOPE YOUR READERS TAKE AWAY FROM THIS BOOK?
FSF: Shun ignorance and embrace knowledge. Education is light; get it for it is a candle that shines into what you do. Be determined to succeed. Refuse to stay in darkness. Be an agent of positive change in your sphere of life and everywhere you find yourself.
WA: WHAT IS THE SIGNIFICANCE OF THE TITLE?
FSF: After a man’s desire or goal has been met there comes a rest, repose.
WA: HAS A BOOK EVER CHANGED YOUR LIFE?
FSF: Yes, books are meant to change lives.
WA: WHAT GENRES DO YOU LOVE?
FSF: The three genres of Literature, I love them.
WA: ARE THERE ANY GENRES YOU DISLIKE?
WA: WHAT AUTHOR (WHO IS STILL LIVING) WOULD YOU DEARLY LOVE TO MEET?
FSF: Any of the authors I mentioned earlier who is still alive.
WA: DO YOU LIKE TO DISPLAY YOUR BOOKS ON A BOOKSHELF OR KEEP THEM IN A VIRTUAL LIBRARY?
FSF: Both are okay by me.
WA: DO YOU PREFER FLASH FICTION, SHORT STORIES, NOVELLAS, OR NOVELS?
FSF: A writer must be versatile without any preference.
WA: WHAT BOOK CAN YOU RECOMMEND TO ME?
FSF: I will recommend Born for the Riverside and other Radio Plays by Ayodele Ojurongbe.
WA: WHEN DID YOU LAST VISIT A LIBRARY?
FSF: I was there in year 2020. Every author ought to have library at home.
WA: HAVE YOU EVER HAD A CRUSH ON A BOOK CHARACTER?
WA: HAS A BOOK EVER MADE YOU LAUGH OUT LOUD?
FSF: Yes, a couple of times.