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Oct 16, 2013

Chatting to SEUN ODUKOYA : #Interview

Posted by Wendy Ewurum  |  at  3:19 PM

Today I have another interesting Nigerian personality for you. I've known Seun from far for a long while now as a follower of his short story write ups on various blogs and platforms. I hope you enjoy meeting him.
Seun, I believe you are the person to go to on the net for Naija anything because I knew your name for about a year before I ever exchanged a word with you. Tell us what it is you do that makes you so famous before we get into your writing.
It’s the writing mostly. Several sites have featured my work - several bloggers and site supported the release of For Days and A Night. I am eternally grateful to those guys – I would name names but they are so many!
I think it also has to do with my activities on Naija Stories.
About how you knew my name, I‘ll really like you to share that with me. Let me learn one of those things I’m doing right. *smiles*

Now and again I get emails from you about a forum called Naija Stories, what role do you play in this forum and what role does it play in your writing life?
I’m thankful for Myne Whitman (founder of Naija Stories) and a lot of other fantastic people. I can honestly say Naija Stories is the school I went to hone my skills. I met a lot of fantastic writers there who challenged me and made me step my game up.
These days I’m basically a reader on the website – too many responsibilities don’t allow me contribute as much as I’d like to. But as much as I can, I make time to go on there, read and support other writers the best way I can.

How often do you read and what is your favorite go to book for a fun read?
Dr Seuss
I still read the Famous Five.
Archie Comics, Betty and Veronica. Yeah, all that stuff.
I read every day. I’m always reading something – be it a blog, a novel, or magazine. At times it gets so bad I’m reading three books at once!

To the person looking from the outside in, it seems Nigeria is a hub of writing talent and yet most Nigerians you speak to also lament on the lack of love for reading. Can you share your thoughts on how you see this and how it affects you as a writer?
It’s interesting that you would ask me this.  I don’t believe the cliché that ‘Nigerians don’t read’. Frankly it annoys me.
Do you know how many bloggers are online? Do you know how many Nigerians blog? How many Nigerians write? The fact that we have so many writers is simply an indication that we have as many – if not more readers.  People read! Blogs like Linda Ikeji’s record thousands of hits daily –even though the subject is mostly gossip, Nigerians’ penchant for the site is still attributable to reading.
Do we not read on Facebook? On Twitter?
Reading culture is not the issue, people read. What they want to read is what I think is morphing.
As to how it affects me, I consciously try to make whatever I’m reading as simple and as engaging as possible. There are millions of things jostling for people’s attention – so if they give you a moment of their time you better not waste it. This mentality is what I bring to bear on my works.

I know you write poetry and stories, which one are you more inclined to do at random moments?
Oddly I can’t choose one for one. I’m as likely to write a poem as I am to write a story. It depends on how I feel.

What is your favorite topic to write about? 
I like to write about our common humanity basically – life as I see it.
But if I have to choose a topic it will be Love.
Love because it’s so misunderstood and misrepresented. A lot of people are disillusioned about love and related things – and yet millions of people are having fun about the same hot-buttons. I feel that one more person who speaks on these issues from an ideal yet realistic point of view can make a difference – however small.

When I asked you to come over and that’ I’d appreciate a short story from you as well, you said to me….then give me or topic, what would you like me to write for you?  Do you just sprout stories off on demand as opposed to waiting for inspiration, how is it that you always have a story waiting?
Would you believe me if I said I have no idea? The only explanation I have is – God. He gave the gift.
And also – why wait for inspiration? To be inspired I’d love to be in a Jacuzzi surrounded with candles, sipping on white wine and listening to Barry White/Hugh Masekela. How practical is that?
I learnt, over time, that if I show up, you know, settle down and open the MS Word sheet on my laptop, the juices would flow.
Besides, I believe in living and as long as I keep opening myself up to life’s experiences, there would be juicy stories to share.

The one thing that attracts me to your blogs is your writing talent. Your style is simple, concice and evocative, which I believe is not something to be over looked because many of our writers seem more in love with big, impressive words than the story. When I say concise I mean, a trip to the store will not take you 3 pages describing directions. I would like to know how you manage to get that balance between the story, the detail and delivery right.
Ah – that’s not quite fair. And what I mean by that is we all are individuals and therefore we are different. What works for me may not work for you and vice versa. I was discussing with a friend recently about the Late Great Tom Clancy (RIP) and I was talking about how he is a best seller – but his books bore me to extinction. My issue was that he spends too much time giving details about things that don’t interest me – but can we say he’s a poor writer? That would be ignorance going on rampage. Millions of people who read and love his works cannot be wrong.
I think it’s just a matter of style and preference. I’ve always been told to write the kind of stories I would love to read – and my biggest reason for liking Chase is simplicity. I think every writer should just find what works for them and stick to it.
(Oh why am I thinking about Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey when you talk of pupolarity as being a measure for good writing…but I digress)

I do not believe that West Africa is as blessed with formal art institutions as are the more advanced countries.  Do you feel any inclination to help groom the talent of other aspiring writers in your community? 

I always think it’s a privilege when someone seeks me out in a bid to get my opinion on his /her piece or writing style. While I may not be as timely as I would like to be, I do try to respond enthusiastically to anyone who asks me for support.
Also, I’m a member of a couple of writing groups where I share and contribute my quota to the game.
The last thing I do in this regard is a project in the works tailored to breeding and encouraging young writers. I’m collaborating with other people so I’m not at liberty to share details at this time but I can say that it’s mostly about giving back and seeing the dreams of up-and coming writers take flight.
There’s also a blogger’s award thing I’m associated with – Nigerian Writers’ Choice. People get to nominate their favorite blogs and there are screened and awarded prizes. It’s important that people are rewarded for their efforts – no matter how minute the recompense is. And that’s what the creators seek to achieve.

I am aware that you have a book out at the moment that your give away for free on your website, can you tell us about it?

That would be For Days and A Night. (Free For Download vy the way)

Well, it’s a short story collection I released in 2012 December. Fifty-four pages containing very crazy motley of thoughts expressed as poems, prose, skits and graphics. It was an experiment and people mostly liked it. Most people think it was – or still is a success.
Please explain how you came up with that book title, it intrigues me.
The title was born of a lot of things. One of it is at that time in my life I was going through a really dark period so it seemed as though I was in a constant state of ‘night’. But why celebrate sadness? And looking back I realize I have more happiness than sadness – more ‘days’ than ‘nights’ so to speak.

You made a clip of one of the short stories in the book, how did that come about and why? (this is a broad question: inspiration, some process, lessons, etc) I’ll put clip in as well
Hmmm. That was another experiment to squeeze out thoughts we need for a bigger game plan. For that I have to thank several people; the cast and my team for the continuous iterations.
Actually, it all started with a brilliant guy named Ayokunle Moore. Ayo is a friend and colleague – he is one of my team people who contributed to and supported the book. He is a director and an award-winning Copywriter. He suggested we adapt some stories from the book for the screen and he thought Idle Chatter would do for a pilot. I wrote the script and he edited it – and then the team came up with a shooting plan. We called up a few friends to form the cast and that was it.
The lessons from the experience are ideas we are bringing to bear in our next sets of projects.
Link to You Tube video: For Days and A Night

If you were to be involved in the movie business in Nigeria, how would you like your work to influence the current Nollywood climate?

Nollywood is growing, and while there’s so much to complain about, there’s also so much to applaud and appreciate. We have some fantastic and amazing talents, some fantastic directors and crew and basically – people who daily are giving more and they should be appreciated.
As to where my stories come in – I think it’s time people looked at things differently. There’s a whole new generation whose tastes and desires and goals are entirely unique – and it’s time Nollywood begins to cater to that generation WHILE not losing anything that makes us Africans/Nigerians.
And actually I am involved to a certain extent. I wrote a movie story/plot sometime ago, it’s been shot and a trailer has been released. We released a short film ‘Idle Chatter’ and I’m in talks with some producers. More things to come – God willing.

Some writers in my country (South Africa) will choose to associate with publishing firms over sees, to the extent of relocating due to certain limitations experienced with regard to publishing and marketing of their books, for example their genre may not have a market at all because the book market is limited. What publishing challenges do you experience in Nigeria and how do you overcome them?
Challenges are not unique to one place. There are challenges everywhere. My opinion is too many of us are waiting for something to happen. We’re waiting for someone to say ‘I want to give you a million dollars for your book’. And while everyone has that kind of dream at varying levels, in this age where anything is possible; in this day and time when someone can post a video from the privacy of their room and become a celebrity, self-publishing has been made easy by internet utilities and we really don’t have to wait to be ‘chosen’ by anybody.
I mean, we‘ll do the networking thing - you know, the meet-and –greet with publishers et al. But ultimately, the future belongs to people who step out and start something with what they have. That’s what I believe.

I think the majority of writers do so for the love of storytelling but they would greatly appreciate the commercial success that can come with it. What are your thoughts and hopes? 
To quote The Joker, ‘If you’re good at something, never do it for free’. There’s no feeling like being paid to have fun, there’s nothing like making a comfortable living off something you can do for free. That’s the definition of bliss, my sister.
So yeah, I look forward to making a big killing off my God-given gifts. Personally, I haven’t started writing. When I’m on EVERY bestseller’s list, then I have arrived.
I also think it’s great that there are more opportunities for writers now more than ever. There’s a flash fiction contest just begun by Etisalat – if that’s not encouraging I don’t know what is. And I believe that more and more investors are beginning to realize the possibilities that lie with/within the literary world and therefore are plugging in by the moment – so there’s every reason now , more than ever to make a decent life as a writer. It can only get better.

What do you have planned for your readers in the year?
I have several things planned for my people (as I like to call my readers); I’m just taking it one at a time. There’s a full-length novel coming real soon, there are about two short-story compilations and a poetry chapbook. There are also a couple of full-length series for the blog – it’s all a matter of timing.

And in conclusion, one of the things I learnt while in Nigeria was how passionate Nigerians are about their food. So what is your favorite Nigerian delicacy?  
– I like Agege Bread and Agonyi Beans.
I apologize - Agonyi Beans does not happen to be one of the things I know how to make!
Thank you so much for this, Wendy!

So of course off I went to find out how to make Aganyi beans.

Here is a wonderful recipe of Agege Bread plus some additional information on what it is. I actually just found this blog by the Nigerian Vegan and am sure to visit soon again.

About the Author

Most know me as the author to Fabulosity Reads and in actual fact, that is the previous name of this blog. I have since then moved my books to a Wordpress self-hosted blog so that I can have a place to show a different side of me which I am equally passionate about and that is marketing and personal development. I hope you will love being here, watching me grow as I share and learn. My highest hope is that we will grown and learn together in all disciplines affecting our lives. I'd LUUURRRVE to hear from you, so don't be shy...


  1. Great interview! I agree that our writing talents are gifts from God. :-)

  2. This is very true Misha. It does make you wonder what it is that our souls are trying t connect ot or communicate that we have such a yearning to create different realities.


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