Writing is a journey. Most times, we don’t know where we are going, but we are exploring the events as they unfold. In this Authorview, we would be reading the words of a brilliant Okadabooks’ author, Emem Bassey, as she describes her thematic journey.
Writertain: So let’s get to know you
Emem Bassey: Emem Bassey, second child and first daughter out of four. I’m from Akwa Ibom; and I love to write. I sleep and wake writing. I’m not perfect but I’m working towards it. I have a temper, but I’ve successfully worked through it.
Writertain: Wow… How many book so far?
Emem Bassey: So far…about 17. 12 published on okadabooks.
Writertain: Names of the notable ones?
Emem Bassey: Baby’s Angels…my debut novel. Duct series, which has 3 series so far- Duct; Chance Happened; Deep, Dark and Dangerous. The forth is in the making, called Mums.
Writertain: What motivated you into making them series?
Emem Bassey: The characters just scream out to be developed .
Writertain: As if they are pleading with you?
Emem Bassey: They don’t plead o! They bother…ringing in my head until you write them. When I complete a story, and it feels incomplete, then it just has to have a series.
Writertain: That’s beautiful. So, I first noticed your desire for fat ladies to have their story in Okadabooks’ interview with you, then in your books. Can you let our readers see your passion for these ladies?
Emem Bassey: Well, first of all, I’m plus sized. Second, I’m a reader…And in all the books, romance and others that I’ve read, the ladies described are slim.
It started feeling like we didn’t exist. It felt like fat ladies didn’t have romance in their lives.
So I took it upon myself to write what I know… Because, let’s face it, a writer’s story is the sum of his/her experience. So, as a fat person of experience, I wrote what I know about fat ladies.
Writertain: So, in order to be specific, I’d rather we discussed Unromantic, and ‘Deep, Dark,and Dangerous’. So, let’s start with unromantic, Rose’s case. Why did you pick the theme of Parental’s verbal flogging?
Emem Bassey: Let me explain something I’ve discovered about writing…When I set out to write Unromantic, it wasn’t a series, it was just supposed to be a novella, about a weird fat girl, who loved fun and a guy who didn’t. But when I finished the first one, it felt unfinished.
So, I went for the second series and before I started, I knew I’ll have a third one, because, I had to examine why these people acted the way they did.
I didn’t consciously choose parental verbal abuse, but…well, you could say I was spiritually inspired.
Verbal abuse from parents is a reality in Nigeria. It might not be a focus at the moment, but it holds great sway in the character development of an individual. They don’t know any better. With age and exposure, our generation, at least some of us, are realizing that not all our parents’ child-rearing styles are right.
Writertain: Still on Unromantic, can you describe how your characters Rose and Akan influenced the theme of ‘Fun’?
Emem Bassey: Most times, the story writes itself. I might create a structure, but when I’m through, it’s sometimes far from what I’d structured. It’s all relative to different personalities, and upbringing and experiences.
Fun for Rose was a means of escape from her personal demons. The fact that her own parents had treated her less than the furniture.
Fun for Akan was sin, an abomination that only resulted in problems because of the experience he’d had with his baby mama, and because, well, his Army father had brought him up in a regimented environment. So, when he met Rose, he felt lost and couldn’t understand her careless freedom.
Writertain: And she did made him lose the beast in him.
Emem Bassey: (laughs) She did.
Writertain: I can see that even a character’s ideology can be a theme on their own. That’s why I quickly go to Character’s ideology. In Deep, Dark and Dangerous, do you think Alero’s Ideology about cultism affected the outcome of life:Marrying Clem Edem.
Emem Bassey: Yes, it did. Experience. Since her step sister had given them scares due to her cult boyfriend, Alero became who she was. And even though she’d really liked Morgan, that deep fear couldn’t be erased. That fear drove her into a hasty decision to marry Clem.
Writertain: So, from your point of view, how does our ideologies affect our lives?
Emem Bassey: Our ideologies are our lives. It’s that simple. You can’t say you have an ideology and then you act contrary to it
Writertain: But how do you think we should take or use them when dealing with people?
Emem Bassey: The fact that it can be called an ideology is because of the personality, the character.
When dealing with people, an intelligent person knows that as faces are different, so are ideologies. And for comfortable living, we all have to Live and Let Live. The constitution speaks of the freedom of belief as long as it doesn’t hurt the next guy. But wars break out because people try to force their ideologies on other people and are angry because they don’t believe it.
Writertain: That’s deep. I noticed that your use of POV is the 3rd person Omniscient, which you used beautifully. How has using it influenced your plot and theme? Or helped you fully explain your theme and plot?
Emem Bassey: I had to find the POV I’m comfortable with. I suck at writing scripts because I see all these details I want to cram into the story. I tried writing in the 1st person once -Duct (Chance Happened), which was originally a script, and I nailed it only because I mixed it up with the 3rd person Omni. The third person allows me paint a detailed picture of the story, delving into the past or flying into the future if required.
Writertain: That means, one need to take a lecture from Rick Riodan?
Emem Bassey: I don’t know him o.
Writertain: Author of Percy Jackson. He wrote books in 1st person POV, each having over 100k words. So, tell us about Skrivner?
Emem Bassey: You know about that? Well…Skrivner is supposed to be my effort to help expose upcoming writers.
Writertain: One day, we will seek you out for it, and another interview should be on its way, but for now I want to say thank you. Any words for your fans?
Emem Bassey: Thank you very much. F
or my Fans, I’m always happy to get feedback so I can create better stories, and I’m also extremely grateful to them for their support. Writers would be nothing without readers. I want them to also know that the Duct series, they’ve been clamoring for, is currently being created!
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