Happy Friday to all of my readers, writers and followers! I have had the most awesome week, celebrating the high school graduation of my granddaughter with family and friends. A very happy week, indeed and today I’m happy to bring you a wonderful, insightful interview with the prolific author, poet and screenwriter, Abiola Olatunde.
Welcome Abiola. Before we talk about your great Novel, please share a little something about yourself.
Thank you Clara for giving me this opportunity. Well my name is Abiola Olatunde but I generally like to use the shorter form Biola Olatunde. I am from South Western part of Nigeria. I am a Yoruba woman. I have been writing for some 30 odd years. I am a trained broadcaster and scriptwriter. Have written quite a lot of plays for television, radio and have a few books of poetry. Have had my poems in some anthologies as well as being the Nigerian guest editor for a literary magazine in Romania as well for a small press publisher Lummox press.
Tell us about your novel, Numen Yeye. What inspired you to write it?
Numen Yeye for me is a very important story about concepts and myths from my tribe. In the old days,( even in some places now), there was a belief that certain children known as abiku could give their mothers a hard time through repeated child births and death. Such children were labeled and treated with dread, and resentment. Women dreaded having such children and they were all types of practices to deter such children from incarnation in a household. The woman was usually pitied and the child will be given odd names that would identify such a child with the intention to shame such a child. Over time, it was understood that high infant mortality could easily have been due to lack of proper medical care. However there was the deeper understanding of another type of incarnation in which the child did not have to be a consequent of repeated births. It was the dreaded and feared emere. This type of being is believed to be one who will incarnate with a set mission to exact maximum pain through the manner of departure from the physical world. They were assumed to carry the ability to be capricious and could wait until they attained a milestone of life achievement and then leave abruptly. If a child had ESP, she was simply called an emere, or if she grew up to be too pretty and was deemed to too lovely. It was also believed that such beings could make their family very wealthy or pauperized otherwise comfortable families. I was intrigued.
I come from a village that had a goddess who was said to come back to earth at certain times. My grandmother told me the story of this goddess as she was the chief priestess. That gave rise to the story, what if a goddess came back and was neither an abiku nor emere? She would need to learn all over again what being human meant and would carry all the hallmarks of an emere. The human being has never being without help from the celestial realm. That was what inspired the story.
I was struck by the poetry in the dedication and at the ending of your book…was this a conscious thought or did your natural ‘poetess’ ability take over?
I guess it is an instinctive thing with me. I tend to express deeper emotion through poetry. I can only say things better that way. I appreciated a young girl Erin. I sensed her depth and I felt I could say what I wanted to say only in that way as I appreciated the loving care her father gives her. Thank you was too small for a friend Skip so I simply expressed it that way.
Although, I understand this is a work of speculative fiction, I learned a lot about cultural traditions and customs from your book (Yoruba) My own God -centered faith-based beliefs and love for comfort foods are forever, mainly because of my Southern upbringing. What are some traditions you carry today to help keep your’Self’ centered?
Well Clara, it really wouldn’t be a hundred percent speculative fiction as some of the traditions, culture and concept is real for us in my corner of the world. We actually also live a One God centered life… Olodumare who very much has lesser gods you might see as saints or I would like to see them as elementals. The average westernized Yoruba person has his worlds. One world is the western education, pretensions and civilization and the other is his essential spirituality and conviction.
He is always at war within himself trying to make these worlds merge. How does he center his Self? He makes a compromise which you find in Imole Ife’s mother. I call it the compromise religion not fully Christian nor truly Yoruba. He still searches for himself. Some overdo it by attempting to be so westernized while there are those who simply wish to let things be. You know , man’s search for identity. I personally feel, every human being has a responsibility to have a luminous goal and try to reach it. It is not an issue of religion.
How did you manage to write over 200 stories for television & plays, in addition to anthologies and novels, without going mad? 🙂
Wow! Clara, I thought it would be the other way round. I write everyday, and in the days when I was much younger. I would write a 30 minute TV soap in a day. When I was employed as newscaster/producer, I had to produce a play for radio every week which I generally wrote myself. Then I had to write for the United Nations population fund a TV series for every week and that soap lasted two years that meant more than a hundred. I loved it because I was having so much fun. I had the gift of being able to write quickly and still write TV plays when I am commissioned. I simply love writing. I run blogs, write for my blogs regularly, write articles, and poems . I simply just write Clara. I most likely would go mad if I am not writing!:))
What are you working on next? and please tell readers how they can purchase a copy of Numen Yeye.
I am writing a romance with a traditional twist, exploring a probable sequel to Numen Yeye. And ah yes just finished a 13 week TV series.
Numen Yeye is published by IFWG publishing in Missouri and print copies can be purchased from them as well as on amazon.com here I think you can get the print edition at:
Kobo Book: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Numen-Yeye/book-zJxsZAAlSk-ekz-Q3ypjAQ/page1.html?s=2BjFEAPT2kqoTBUWxwR5Ig&r=1
As a nook book on Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/numen-yeye-biola-olatunde/1113739302?ean=2940015934922
Thanks Abiola, it was a pleasure.
Thank you Clara, I am grateful.
I hope you guys enjoyed the interview with Abiola, as much as I did. Have you ever read a book that left you wanting to learn more about its author? Please share your experiences with us.