It is truly an honor to introduce Ike and interview him for this blog. He is the author of Shifting Sands and mentor to yours truly.
Here is what Ike had to say on the process of writing, honing one’s craft, and the art of storytelling:
How would you describe your writing style and in what genre would you place your work? Would you say that you are more of a literary or contemporary writer?
I like to capture the details of encounters through beautiful prose and natural dialogue interspersed with sublime humour. Since I will abandon a book whose writing is not exciting within the first three pages, I try to capture that which I seek in other people’s books.
I write in the contemporary genre for now but I see myself settling into writing thrillers.
What inspires you? How do you generate ideas for your stories?
My inspiration is natural; I am a born storyteller. I like stories that turn conventional wisdom or assumptions on their head. So, I look for ordinary stories and garnish them to intrigue and to challenge the reader. Stories that will make the reader reassess long-held opinions and prejudice. I hear a lot of stories from people daily and easily choose which one to expand on and build a book around.
Tell us about your novel, Shifting Sands. What challenges, if any, did you face while writing the novel?
Shifting Sands is a story about an immigrant, Uche, who faced opposition from his family when he declared his intention to marry his foreign girlfriend, Thembi. Through betrayal, threats, and death, Uche and Thembi’s love was challenged almost beyond their endurance limit. You will love the book if you love African culture and their practices.
I started writing Shifting Sands when an attendant in a literary fair made a snide remark about unpublished writers. I wanted to prove to her that I could write a novel if I wanted to.
The challenges I faced were multi-faceted. I had to learn the craft as I was writing. So, I kept rewriting scenes as I learnt better techniques and ended up rewriting almost the whole manuscript too many times, which caused delays before its publication.
What would you say drives a successful story–characters, plot, or both? Please explain.
Both–because a good plot is needed to support strong characters. A writer must have a good plot first and populate the book with memorable and well fleshed-out characters. Without a good plot, your book will just be a display of good writing but devoid of a memorable story.
What project (s) are you currently working on?
I am writing a second novel, Not Of My Blood. Like my debut novel, this one will highlight the virtue of love and sacrifice. It is a contemporary fiction with some elements of crime and intrigue. I’ve left it now for six months after writing two chapters but will resume work on it by end of the month.
Any advice for newcomers just entering the world of fiction writing?
Take time to learn the “craft” of fiction writing so that you master your own style. Read good books, especially the ‘masters’ of your genre and take notes. Learn as you read, pausing to appreciate any technicality you noticed and needed to learn.
Make friends of writers, even poor ones in order to exchange ideas. There’s always something to learn from everyone.
Trust your ability and always challenge your ability by putting out your work to be critiqued in book clubs and websites.
Interview by Shonte’ S