Sunday, September 12, 2010

Tope Apoola - Times of the Supermen (Guest Author)

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Tope is another new Nigerian Author I came across in my social media wanderings. I learnt about Tope when he was still pitching his manuscipt through the Harper Collins ranking system 'Authonomy'. So I was happy to see that his book had finally been published. Hear it from him.

Please introduce yourself
My name is Tope Apoola, born June 1984 to civil servant parents, Mr.&Mrs. Moses Apoola in Akure. I am last in the family. I was educated mostly in the same place except for the university where I had to move a few more than a hundred kilometres away from home. Times of the supermen is my first full length novel.

Tell us about the book
That is one question I can only hope to answer satisfactorily, the reason being that there is more than one side to the story, different things to stick to and different interpretations.

The book is about a freaky scientist who discovers the use of a symbolic formation that was found on an earthly rock, said to be identical to the one earlier found on the Martian surface. The world is bemused as it is to be established that super-civilized extraterrestrials existed even in the times that was known to be prebiological. The man is being invited to promote his science in Lagos by the ambitious and adventurous Nigerian President mostly because many people, including Olabode, the narrator’s uncle, have plausibly reported to have dreamt about the prehistoric times.

Being the Alternative history Science fiction that it is Times of the supermen hypothesizes the origin of existence, hence the rationale behind the realities that we experience from time to time. Through the lives of the characters, such as Sola Aderomoke, a young, attractive TV presenter girl who worked inadvertently for an esoteric anti-religion group, and Chekhov, a lonely scientist who warned the world against the devices of those unknown beings who were said to have visited the earth even in pre-adamic times, we see how an aged conspiracy by an ancient otherworldly civilization is being played out.

I would have to remind readers that this is only a work of fiction, as some might easily be led into believing that it is not meant to be one but this is not to say that a good round of investigative study did not go into the conceptualization of the story.

How did the story come to you? How long did it take to write?
Yes, that is a lovely question. The story did come to me and for three years, I wrote and tried to find facts to back up what I had written.I have always been fascinated with history, especially the very far history which could not have been recorded with clarity considering the level of education of some ancient historians. I also believe that most of the things I learnt in the church are either literal truths or allegory, so I knew even as a child that someday, I am going to start writing about all these things in a little more materialistic point of view. I did some paper research while writing this, but I feel satisfied knowing that I never at any time allowed even facts to dissuade the creative process.

What is your writing style?
I let the words flow and allow it to shape the story and it’s hardly the other way round. The narrators’ voice in my work is very personal, and somewhat messianic. I must have been influenced by old literatures like Dante Aligheri, who started his book with “In the middle of the journey of our lives, I was lost from the straight path and came to myself within a dark, cold wood.” Or Walt Whitman who said “what I assume, you shall assume.” You may want to conclude that the style is literary but it’s actually not without a touch of avant-gardism.

What is the audience for this book?
Every person who had at one time in their lives looked into the sky at night and wonder. This category typically fall among young adults and adults. The book is, you know, from the title you can tell, but we live in a global village.

Will you write any other genres?
Yes, if it comes naturally.

What are you reading now? Who are your favourite authors?
I just finished with Steve Berry’s Templar legacy which I read concurrently with Charles Colson’s non-fiction, How Now shall we live? I am about picking Wole Soyinka’s You must set forth at dawn and Dan Brown’s The lost symbol. Wole Soyinka is my favourite. Although most people believe his work is difficult, I happen to enjoy the depth. Chimamanda’s voice is fresh and entertaining. I’d find A Heart to Mend too.

What are you working on now, besides promoting Times of the Supermen?
I am working on the sequel. There are more that I couldn’t have included in a single book without saying too much at once.

How can we purchase the book?
It will be available in major bookstores in Nigeria as from November 19th but Times of the Supermen could be purchased on Amazon, even now. Orders will arrive at US locations within a day or two.

Please share your publishing history.
At some point I thought I would land a major book deal with a big firm, but then a friend asked, what is it that I really wanted, and I remembered my original plan. This is my first and it is a means to creating a formidable, and internationally competitive publishing firm. It sounds naive to think this is achievable but it is. By working in conjunction with writers who share similar ideology, we will create a situation where publishing becomes a considerable contributor to Nigerian economy. It is stressful, because it is not the only thing I am doing or want to do but what right have we to complain about Nigeria if we run away from challenges?

What is the marketing strategy?
We have consulted experienced individuals and a small progressive firm as to that. As anyone should expect, we intend to be revolutionary in our strategy.

Any last word?
Sadly, a beautiful quotation which I would like to make happened to have come from a man who defied my religious sentiments. He said that there will come a time when the mean will be to the real men as ape is to the present age man. We need to read a lot, research a lot and do a lot to be a worthy player in the coming commonwealth.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Picture Weekend - Guess the Blogger!

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These are some more pictures in LA. While there, I met a lovely blogger who gave me a little tour of her city. We drove up to Hollywood and Beverly Hills. First we went to The Grove, a celebrity spot and did some window shopping. They had this cute little tram too but we didn't have time to get on. Then we had dinner at the Cheesecake Factory and took in some music on our way out at a small 'fair on the green'. I didn't spot any celebrity or actor sha, though I heard there was paparazzi waiting because one was coming.

Anyway we left and took a city lights drive down Hollywood Boulevard with all the stars on the sidewalk. Finally, she drove me almost an hour to where I was a staying. They say there are stars in LA, she is the real deal. Give it up for the sexy lady, Dith's Haute Spot. Kisses back sweetie...

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Connecting with an Ex on Facebook

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So Facebook clocked half a billion users this past month. I know almost everyone reading this, if not all, has an account on Facebook. Today's debate Tuesday is about connecting with exes on Facebook.

I joined Facebook several years ago as a Masters student but only recently started actively using it after publishing A Heart to Mend. Before then, I was hidden and I frequently culled my friend’s list for those who I felt were not necessary to be there. I wanted my friends list to remain less than 100, and it remained so. Now that I’m back to using the media, my friends list is over a thousand and growing. I’ve added some of those culled people again, among them so-called toasters, chykers and boyfriends. Having heard some tales from friends, and read some articles, I’m left wondering if I’m making a mistake.

Let me back up a bit. When one gets into a new relationship, the expectation is that both people cut any close ties with their exes. Though some of us choose to remain friends with them, it is physically easier to distance ourselves from exes. What happens is that you start hanging out in new spots with the new love, or you establish a new set of friends. The BB messages, phone calls and emails also reduce drastically with the old flame as time passes and both of you pick up new interests and drift apart.

On the web, it may be a different and difficult ball game altogether especially on Facebook. You have their status update automatically popping up on your newsfeed and the same thing happens when they add new photos. Some of us may even feel like the former girlfriend or boyfriend is taunting us. This is most likely the case when these updates have to do with the ex having found a new person. Imagine seeing that red heart which Facebook uses to denote changes to relationship status. I guess it would irk some people to see their ex hook up with someone else just days or weeks after their break-up while they’re nursing a bruised heart.

So what to do? Some people say they will never add their boyfriends as Facebook friends in the first place, and will remain as single until they’re married. I understand not broadcasting that you’re in a relationship which may end up as transient, but not adding the person as a friend doesn’t really sound realistic. Others say they will remove those friends once they become exes. Sounds more doable, at the same time, you may come across as churlish and bitter and who wants to be the one who is worse off by a break up?

Let’s even talk about people who are in exclusive and defined relationships or now married. A lot of us prefer to be ostriches about past sexual or relationship history. For those who do know, do you insist your partner removes all the exes from their friend list? Or do you encourage your partner to add their exes? I’m one who believes in not burning bridges and have found myself doing the latter. I add old flames and ask Atala to feel free to do the same.

Of course, one part of my mind expects that the reconnections will stay superficial. But what if it doesn’t? What if old embers burst back into flame during the course of a cursory Facebook chat? What if you open the door to the kind of ex that will leave hurtful messages that can be misconstrued by those reading. You know the kind of suggestive insinuations that can even set off the person you’re now with?

What do you think and what would you do?


****Excerpted from an article published in the September issue of AFRIKAN GODDESS Read the full version at the link.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Weekend Pictures - Universal Studios Hollywood

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UPDATE: For those in the United States, have a great Labor Day! (Atala thinks this is ironic, a holiday with no work is termed labor day. Oh well, enjoy it my people.)

These are a few of the snapshots I took during a visit with my cousin to the Universal Studios Hollywood. All I kept saying was wow, wow, wow. They have this new KingKong 360 3D showing as part of the Studio Tour and men! If you're ever in LA, don't miss it. I can honestly say that I had not experienced 3D until I went to Universal. Forget what we see in the cinemas, these were the real deal. Shrek 4D, Terminator Virtual experience. OMG! I'll stop here but check out more pics on my Facebook page.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Debate Tuesday - Scholar!

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For people living in Nigeria - Is it better to get a graduate degree abroad or find a good one in Nigeria?
Doesn't matter where you live - Is it better to get a masters immediately after the first degree or find a job?

This is a topic that always crops up among us young and not so young people. We seem to be caught at a crossroad at almost every stage of our lives. I visited with some family last week in LA and the second issue came up with one of my cousins. She is yet to decide. I've also read blog posts from here where people are taking one path or the other.

I personally know it's difficult to see the road to our goals, one of the most important of which is to be successful in life. At around 18 or so, when we're in University getting our first degree, our parents begin to allow us some independence. They accept that we can make some decisions of our own since we now usually live alone and away from home.

This independence can be exciting and at the same time scary. It means that all the mistakes you make are now on your head. You can't blame anyone for your flops anymore.

Some of the major decisions we're faced with are the ones above. I had the same dilemma on both counts. I graduated in Nigeria, finished my NYSC and began thinking of the way forward. I knew the value of a graduate degree so that was part of the plan but where to get it.

I started searching online for schools abroad with scholarships. I was also checking National dailes for schools in Nigeria. This search took sometime, so I knew I had to get a proper job in the meantime. I applied for schools in Nigeria but there was always something not right. In the end, it was a school abroad that offered me an admission which I took up.

I can say it was worth it, but I have also heard people who are not too happy with their scholarly sojorns abroad. It is either too expensive, too tasking, you get no job afterwards, they don't want to return to Nigeria, you name it. And for working before graduate school. I admit it was a bigger shock going from being an banker to a poor student doing odd jobs to make ends meet.

One thing I can say is this. Degree from Nigeria or abroad, work first or directly back to school, I think it is best to get a graduate degree somewhere along the line.

What do you think?

ps, All the best to those in the middle of making these life-changing decisions. God's grace.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Picture Weekend - @ the LA Black Book Expo

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It was a wonderful time at the LA Black book Expo. I had fun meeting with other authors, most especially Lutishia Lovely (in the fourth picture), who Atala and I are fans of her books. I shared a table with a wonderful lady who makes inspirational stuff, met some book club reps and sold AHTM to a great guy who carried his copy with pride. Who said men don't need their hearts mended? The video is of me reading a poem on my thoughts on romance and relationships as derived from AHTM. You can see more pictures and video when you join my page on Facebook .








Friday, August 27, 2010

Listen to my review on KUOW/NPR radio Today 2.45 PST

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Myne Whitman: Books About Leaving Home

If you've lived in the same place your whole life, it's tough to know what it's like to have your life split into two places. Myne Whitman knows exactly what that's like. She's a writer who lives in Bellevue, but she immigrated here from Nigeria. So she's thought a lot about what it means to make a life in a new place while missing the old place. Myne talked with KUOW's Jeannie Yandel about two books that explore what it's like to leave home for someplace new.

Myne Whitman discussed the books "The Road Home" by Rose Tremain and "The Thing Around Your Neck" by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

This was a thrilling experience and my first time in a radio studio.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Onaedo - The Blacksmiths Daughter

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Onaedo - The Blacksmith's daughter is the first novel by Ngozi Achebe. If you’re a fan of the style of Chinua Achebe, who happens to be Ngozi's uncle, this book will not disappoint. The main story is that of Onaedo, a young teenager of Igbo ethnicity, in the time before the English colonialists made our geographic space a country called Nigeria. The novel is engaging and swift-paced but also manages to be serious and moving.

Synopsis from the publishers

Onaedo - The Blacksmith's daughter is a work of fiction and the tale of two women separated by four hundred years of history. Maxine, a modern American woman who is half-white and half-African comes across a set of diaries written by a slave in the 16th century and tries to write a book about it. She uses elements of the discovered diaries in her book and also information she has discovered herself based on ancient stories retold to her by a collaborator.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Picture Weekend - New African Woman

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So I got a magazine recently, a woman's magazine. The name is New African Woman. It was courtesy of Belinda Otas who had several articles in it including one in which I appeared, woo hoo...LOL. I was so very excited.

Don't get me wrong. I've appeared on several other magazines and newspaper articles, some full page, especially in Nigeria. But usually, I'll just hear about them from my publicist or friends and family, and maybe a scanned copy. This is my first international press appearance and I was also able to get a physical copy. Myne Whitman and A Heart to Mend in the summer issue of NAW. If you haven't got your copy yet, go out and look for it. The mag is available in major cities around the world.

Yeah, and another reason I was excited to get the magazine was this. The fashion. I need to go back to women's magazines seriously. Especially as I had been moaning about my lack of fashion sense and style. I had a subscription to True Love WA (now FLAIR) back in Abuja and getting NAW reminded me what I was missing. The inspirational stories, the news, the role models, the fashion, LOL...

Check this page and the new African woman below. Don't mind my geek glasses. Another unwise decision. I should have stuck with my old no-frills.