Monday, January 15, 2018

Author Interview - Feyi Aina on Love's Indenture

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Olufunmilola Olubunmi Adeniran, aka funpen on Naijastories, is the author of 'The Penguin Close Bully' one of the stories on 'Our Ram is Haram' from NS publishing. She now writes under the pen name Feyi Aina, and recently placed some romance titles on Okada books.

One of the books, Love's Indenture is about Jaiye, whose favorite pastime is antagonizing her father in ways that embarrass him. Fed up with her, her father forces Jaiye into an arranged marriage with a mechanic in order to teach her a lesson. Initially angry, in time, Jaiye begins to discover that her new husband is much more than just a mechanic, and their marriage more than just a sham.

Check out a preview version of the book on Okadabooks, which I thoroughly enjoyed btw, and read more about Feyi Aina and her books below...

1.     What made you get into writing?

I’ve been writing ever since I was a child, and I realize now that sounds rather cliché because almost every writer I know started writing as a child. For me however, the real world was a tad serious and I was more an introspective watcher than a participant. I hated outdoor activities, but I loved nursery rhymes, reading comprehension and composition, and words generally. I loved reading books, and I loved inventing my own alternative story lines to everything I read.

As a child, I didn’t make friends that easily, but writing was a way of escape into this imaginary world where my characters were my friends and I was a heroine, jumping through jungles and doing every brave thing imaginable. As I grew older, writing became my source of relaxation and a good way to vent off my angers and fears. I also realized it was a craft to be nurtured and I went all out for it.

2.     What advice would you give to someone wanting to get published?

The first thing is to grow and develop your writing abilities. No matter how good you think you are, there is always something more to be learnt. I would say get unto some writing websites (of course for example Naijastories like I did) and post something that you’ve done in order to get some feedback and critiques. This will do nothing but improve whatever talent you have. Then try out for some competitions, all the while writing and re writing your debut book. This gives you an idea how your writing will be received and gets you noticed in the writing community. You can then decide to send in your manuscript to as many publishing houses as possible or go via the self-publishing route like I did.

I would say however, ensure you get an editor to clean up the manuscript as much as possible. This helps to get rid of spelling errors, tense and grammar mistakes as well as storyline issues, all of which make books harder for readers to get into, especially if your book is riddled with them. There are so many ways to get published online now and the world seems to be moving into E-publishing with outfits like Okadabooks, Smashwords being so popular now. There are smaller independent publishing presses like NS Publishers and Accomplish Press who would not mind taking a chance on upcoming authors. It’s also best to decide quickly what genre you want to write in and find out which publishers publish those genres.

3.     Is there a character you modelled after yourself or someone you know?

Yes, when I build characters, I want them to be relatable. I name them first and then I shape their personalities from people I know and invent a back story for them. This helps me keep their conversations in the whole story in line with their character and with how they would respond to other characters in the same story. In order to do that successfully, I find myself studying people a lot and drawing from real life experiences i.e. funny moments, interesting comments and outright actions.

In Love’s Indenture, I would say Toye, the husband, was partly modelled after my husband who is actually a pretty amazing guy (if I may but blow his trumpet). This is not so much in terms of looks, but in terms of personality. He is blessed with the ability to find his way around difficult people (and all people as a matter of fact), and get them to actually like him. When Toye says to Jaiye in the book, “I’m never going to get tired of you”, it’s a type of what he (my husband) would say to anyone even when he is almost reaching his breaking point.

Finally, I sometimes find myself drawing parallels out of my characters in this particular book, with a Christian’s relationship with God. Jaiye is a type of a human on earth/ a Christian who just wants to do her own thing. Her sister Molade typifies the Holy Spirit who comforts and understands her when it seems like the world does not. Toye typifies Jesus who loves us unconditionally no matter what we do or do not do, and Jaiye’s father typifies God who sent Jesus to us.

4.     If you could chose three words to describe the book what would they be?

Wow, I’ve never had to describe my own book. I guess I would say it’s

Interesting, (you know what’s going to happen but you want to know how and you can’t stop reading)

Educative, (you realize marriage isn’t easy for everyone)

and Lovely (gives you a warm, fuzzy, happy feeling at the end)

5.     Do you plan on writing more books or a sequel?

Yes, definitely. I have a closet full of books I think the world needs to read. There is actually a prequel to Love’s Indenture called ‘An Unlikely Love’, which is the story of Molade, Jaiye’s sister. It’s also up on Okada books by the way. There is also another wonderful African fantasy novel I’m working on publishing which should come out before the end of the year.

6.     What are some of your favourite websites to visit?

Romance meets life, Boy with a hat (and his 50 word stories), 1Q food platter, Ikhide, the storied platform, Brave Fish, My mind snaps

7.     Do you have other authors that you look up to or idolize?

Oh my goodness, I absolutely love Georgette Hayer and Philippa Gregory (historical romance authors), George R Martin (Song of Fire and Ice) and Adriana Trigiani (an Italian American Contemporary writer).

I also love Francine Rivers because she taught me to find hidden stories in the pages of the Bible, I admire Tolulope Popoola for her boldness in establishing Accomplish Press and for encouraging me to get out there, Kukogho Iruesiri Samson for poetry, and of course Myne Whitman, who made me realise that it was possible to be successful at Self-Publishing. For years I thought one had to just do traditional publishing.

8.     If your writing style had a name what would it be, and can you describe it, and your writing day?

It would be haphazard!

I sometimes start with the end of the book and start writing to the beginning. Sometimes I start in the the middle of the book and fill in the details. Sometimes it’s just a scene that gets stuck in my mind, and I build a story around it.

I mostly just start writing and go with the flow of where my characters are taking me, I let them just tell me the story. Recently however, I’ve taken to writing an outline because it gives me structure and a sense of direction.

My typical day is filled with lots of activities and so I do most of my writing in the middle of the night between 11pm and 2am when the house is quiet and everyone is sleeping and there is no distraction. I have found however that the activities during the day, going to work, meeting up with friends, going for events, sorting the kids, help fuel me with ideas and experiences that find their way into my writing.

9.     Can you list some of the music you are currently swaying to?

Christian music basically, but there is this song that kept playing in my mind every time I wrote Jaiye’s part, both in Love’s Indenture and in An Unlikely Love which mostly was about her sister, - Chandelier by Sia.

I like Adele’s music, I’m a huge fan of Toby Mac, Jamie Grace, Nathaniel Bassey (amazing song writer by the way), Lecrae, and the musical group Avalon.

10. How has being a member of Naijastories contributed to your publishing journey?

I joined in 2012 and I was amazed by the number of people I met who were just as crazy about writing as I was. It was the first place where I allowed readers beyond my close friends and family to read my writing, and the feedbacks I got were instrumental in helping me take a critical look at my work and improve on it. I also got to learn about competitions, meet other writer friends and publish my first story.

Through naijastories I learnt about, applied for and made the ten man shortlist for the first Etisalat prize for Literature Workshop at Bogobiri hotel in Lagos in 2013. It was a live in three day writing workshop and it was hugely eye opening. We were exposed to so many ancient and modern authors and I got to meet writers like Eghosa Imasuen and Igoni Barret.

Naija stories gave me the first idea that my writing was marketable and gave me the confidence to put my stories out there for the world to read.


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