Award winning fiction-writer, Ayo Oyeku was recently cornered at an event and I sought to have a few words with him, judging from his blockbuster novel (Tears of the Lonely)which is available in mobile downloadable version, he offered a few words about himself, career and the inspiration that lead to the novel, excerpts below....enjoy!!!
Tell us about yourself.
Ayo Oyeku is my name. I was born in Ibadan, Nigeria in 1985, into a family of four. My childhood years in Ibadan were fun-filled and memorable; some of those childhood experiences built up my literature curriculum. I attended a popular secondary school in Ibadan; Government College Ibadan. And I went on to study Physics with Electronics at Olabisi Onabanjo University, Ogun State, Nigeria.
Most people wonder why a writer would study a science/engineering course. But the truth is that a deep understanding about matter and its related properties, combined with my literature savvy actually gave me an edge. And also before I graduated from the University, I took some professional trainings and courses in Information Technology. And that I.T knowledge, combined with my entrepreneurship skills is what I earn my living from presently.
I shuttle states within the country for one project or the other, but I currently reside in Ibadan, Nigeria.
Tell us about your life in writing.
My interest in writing began in my Secondary schooling days when my friends and I fell in love with the school library, and subsequently became bookworms. We were young teens in our junior classes then. After reading volumes of books, we realised we had this ‘little ability’ to write. And so, my friends and I began writing in our teenage years.
Years after, I was introduced to a new publisher, based in Ibadan. The publisher took interest in my writing, and he requested for some of my manuscripts. I had to write a couple of Children Stories and he (my publisher) selected the best two. And that was how I released two Children Storybooks under Benevolence Publishers in 2004: FIRST AMONG EQUALS and NOBLE AMBITION.
Subsequently after that, some of my poems started appearing in foreign anthologies, journals, and online poetry magazines. And most recently, I self-published my first novel, TEARS OF THE LONELY under Trafford Publishing, 2011.
Some of my Children Storybooks are yet to be published, and some of my recent writings would be appearing in various collections later. My second novel is in the pipeline.
TEARS OF THE LONELY is an African fiction set in Nigeria’s post-independence years. The story casts its light on a young native, Okiki, who had to battle the vicissitudes of rural life, a dysfunctional family, and the desire to salvage his mother’s life from the fangs of epilepsy.
Okiki finds solace in a mysterious cashew tree – a talking tree. This novel brings life into a tree, as Okiki regularly communes with this mysterious tree, and leans on its advice to shape his future. The stage is set when Okiki grasps education as his lasting panacea to end his tears. He emerges as the first person in his village to do so. But darkness begins to roam around his flickering light of hope when his father escapes to the city with his secret lover, his brother is being pursued by a weight of guilty conscience, and his sister’s marital dream is being smeared in their pursuit to salvage their mother’s life.
Can Okiki turn the tides? Would his flickering light of hope survive the storms ahead? Would the tears of the lonely ever dry? This heart-rending and inspiring story with twists and turns, brings pieces of life’s challenges to the fore, and leaves every reader with a lesson or two.
Can you give us a bottom-line phrase about the whole book?
Life is in phases, and men are made in stages.
The readership level.
Thirteen years upward.
Where can readers find your book?
This novel is available in Paperback, E-book, Amazon Kindle, Nook Reader and Mobile Application format. It is available on my website ( www.tearsofthelonely.com ), through my publishers, Trafford Publishing ( www.trafford.com ), Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com Borders.com.au and all major booksellers worldwide.
Your book is not currently available in Nigeria, how do you intend to bridge this gap?
That’s true. Tears Of The Lonely has been published in the international market for the purpose of quality production and global reach, as such people can place orders for the book online, and have it shipped to their homes within three days in Europe and within a week in Africa. The book is also available in major bookstores online, and across all continents.
Currently, we are still looking up to sign a publishing contract with a reputable Nigerian publishing company, so that the book would be more accessible and affordable for Nigerians.
But most recently, the novel has been converted into a Mobile Application and millions of Nigerians can now download it on their phones for free. With the advent of the Mobile version of Tears Of The Lonely, we have been able to bridge the gap between the young Nigerians who connect with the world through their mobile devices.
Tell us about the mobile version of your novel.
The Mobile version of Tears Of The Lonely was published a few months back, and this novel debuts as the first Nigerian novel to achieve this feat. Once you download the novel on your mobile phones, the book’s icon would appear in your folder. All you have to do is click on the icon to open the novel, and start reading. It has some pretty features like:
- You can change the font size between small and large, as you prefer.
- You can also change the background colour from black to white, as you wish.
- You can use the ‘Bookmark’ option to continue reading the book from where you previously stopped reading.
- You can use the ‘Help’ menu to guide you.
Basically, the application is easy to navigate, and the features make the book readable and enjoyable.
Where can people download it?
You can download it from the download page of the novel’s official website:
You can also download it from:
Please, you have to open these web links from your mobile phones. Follow the instruction on the page, and download the book automatically on your phones either by clicking on “Phone Version” or “Blackberry Version”
Blackberry users can also download this novel for free from the Blackberry Application World.
Give us your ‘writer’s view’ of Nigeria.
That’s a topical issue which must be treated with all sincerity. But I would prefer to save my words and just make a brief comment: Nigeria is yet to develop fully into her nationhood; this is largely due to the religious, ethnic, regional, socio-strata and cultural sentiments rocking the affairs of our country, and the overall decision of the common Nigerian. Nigerians are yet to co-habit and coexist successfully without treading on the issues I stated earlier.
Sometimes we have to go back before we can go forward. We must review and strengthen our ‘culture of community,’ and out of that we can challenge each other’s point of view constructively, and also foster each other’s noble ideas towards an egalitarian society.
Are Nigerians truly reading?
Definitely, Nigerians are reading. But they are mostly reading what’s in their academic curriculum, motivational books, religious materials, and foreign novels. The problem we have presently is that most Nigerians don’t read local content. It’s hard for an average Nigerian youth to mention five current Nigerian authors – they don’t know most of them, and they are not even interested in knowing them.
We can’t just revive the reading culture in Nigeria with just book revival campaigns. We need to “take the book to the people.” We have to study the average Nigerian; find out what they love to read, how they love to read and how they wish to see the books they are reading. We need to study the ‘reading budget’ of the average Nigerian and key into this. And we must be able to write our poems and stories in a convincing and understandable way the typical Nigerian would appreciate.
Most importantly we need to build a good connection between the Nigerians readers and their authors. There has to be a real connection.
Ok, let’s relax a little. What inspires you?
People, and the thirst for a better world.
My day-to-day experience with people truly inspires me. And because I always have these refreshing dreams of a better world in my mind, I simply put my pen to paper and write about how we can get there.
Who is your favourite musical artiste?
My all-time favourite is Beautiful Nubia. His lyrics are so compelling and his songs are so inspiring.
Who is your favourite movie artiste?
I really appreciate the works of Nigerian actors and actresses. But, Brad Pitt is my all-time favourite. I really admire the way he acts.
Tell us one of your memorable experiences?
I have had quite a number of memorable experiences, but the memory of the day I received my first published book lingers on my mind.
After completing my first Children Storybook manuscript, my family and my friends all anticipated the release of the book. But you know manuscripts have to go through thorough editing, sketch work, cover design and printing. So we had to wait for quite a while, and during this process of long waiting I couldn’t predict just when I was going to receive my Author Copies any longer.
And so on a certain afternoon, my publisher delivered my copies in our apartment. Everyone at home was thrilled, but I was in school. Rather than wait for me to travel home by the end of that month to see the book myself, one of my neighbours; a very dear sister of mine, collected the book and persuaded a friend of hers to drive her down to my school that evening. They had to risk their life and their time, covering several kilometres just for me to receive my first published book later in the evening of that same day.
I can never forget that feeling. It wasn’t just about the book; it was about the love people shared with me. And I guess the honour of having your joy shared with others who appreciate you is such a humbling feeling one would never forget.
What’s the most exciting remark you’ve ever heard from your readers?
Well, have received a lot of compliments and encouragements from my friends and readers. But the most recent remark, which I find very exciting also, was from Jumi Suleman, a female friend in UK, who said “When are you writing your next novel?...Can I be in your next novel?”
That really sounds exciting. So will she be in your next novel?
(Laughs)…I can’t answer that presently.
Any other useful information about your novel?
Yes. Readers can join (Like) the Facebook fan page for Tears Of The Lonely to get useful updates about the book, gifts, and also get to interact with other book lovers:
Readers’ requests, requests for book reading, queries from book agents, book promoters and publishers, can send their queries to:
A final word to your readers.
Circumstances build character; character builds legends; legends live forever. Never let your present circumstances or shortcomings deter you from fulfilling your God-given dreams. And most importantly; your life is a gift, do not waste it.
I hope to engage you in another interesting interview some other time.
I would be looking forward to that (smiles). Thank you.