Hello, Chris thanks for the invitation to talk about myself on your blog.
I was born and raised in an Islamic family, in the North Eastern part of Nigeria.
My romance with books started at the tender age of 7 when my father handed me a book in the local Nigerian language, the title was ‘Talks of Wisdom’. I looked at my dad, for an inkling into why he gave me the book, but he never said a word.
While growing up, I never wanted to be in school; but to be my mother’s side, help her with her dishes, cooking and cleaning. That was my definition of happiness.
My sister had hundreds of novels, Mills and Boon, Silhouette, Sydney Sheldon, and bought me short story books when I was in Primary School; Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs etc, I was always surrounded by books.
A few years ago, I woke up one day wanting to write a book that I can distribute globally but I didn’t know how. It was a prayer book I wrote, and wanted to share with the world so that love and peace would reign. At that time there was so much uprising going on in the middle east.
My dad always had a lot of books, mostly religious in nature. He also had a type writer he used all the time, an old model that might have no relevance in this era.
Now you can see where my creativity and imagination as a writer began. At the age of nine, I had to be pulled away from school for two years by my parents, I had developed an illness that made me unable to walk.
While in secondary school, I used to sketch a lot too. Mr, Simon, an Indian Arts Teacher, was one of my favourite Teachers. And by the age of 16, I started keeping memoirs revolving around my daily life.
Just before his death, my father hand wrote several prayers and handed them to me and my sisters.
I love books and have a lot in my library. When I started a career in banking, I bought lots of motivational books, Brian Tracy, John Maxwell etc. My mum loves to tell stories and never wanted to be interrupted. That was when again, the issue of writing manifested itself.
Before then, I saw a book titled: “The Noble Women in Islam.” I can’t remember the author. It was in a shop in Saudi Arabia. And I knew there and then that I should write.
Prior to that, my English Teachers, Mrs. El-Badawi who might have been one of the people who unlocked the desire for my creative self, used to engage me in reading assignments in the class. Everytime, she looked for someone to read a text, or a chapter, my hands were up in the air. Everytime, there were English drama’s, I was the first person she invited to participate. Probably because I was always active in her class. The same with my French Teacher also who always looked for me to participate in French drama competition for my girls-only secondary school.
I grew up a shy person but when I get the slightest opportunity to speak, I am always quick to take the chance. I was always a computer person, staying the whole night googling, reading my horoscope, and keeping up with trends in the internet world.
In 2007, after being through a horrible divorce proceeding for two and half years, I opened up to a friend about my experiences and he advised that the experiences are too huge for a soul to handle. He advised that I download the story into a book format and do the one thing I have always wanted to do in life. I committed the experience into a book which I titled “The Weeping Child” and recently “The Silent Wife”.
The next was to do the one thing I have always wanted to do, but, something happened to me in 2010 when I went to Paris for a Phd program in international business management.
The trip was to enable me to find bits and pieces of myself. Not really about the certificate. There, I re-discovered my story-telling and writing passion. I also discovered Amazon. So I began to write and become a self-published author.
This was much easier compared with the tradition publishing where one has to put his or her face to the book. I never wanted to fail. I was brought up to succeed and not to fail. And I could not afford to fail as I have done in other areas of my life.
My trip to France was to enable me disappear from the world. Although in France, I lost my nice English accent (my father always spoke to us in English and not any of the local dialect). But, I regained bits of me and my passion for writing. That year with the help of a South African room mate, the book Tales by Moonlight, later re-named Soulful Stories from Africa, using a Pen Name. It contains short stories based on my own personal experiences and a real-life story told to me by my mum and my uncle. Thus, “Rescued by an Eagle” was born based on my mothers story and uncle’s narration
Despite hiding, under a pen name, I was discovered via Smashwords, where I had uploaded copies of my titles, by a close friend of mine and a former Fiancee. He found himself in the character and challenged me on classifying him as an arrogant person. That made me to pull out my scripts from the online stores.
I always wanted to speak out, have a voice and be a voice for others. Thus, I wish to finally transition to writing as a full time profession. My decision to commit myself to writing and writing more and more books. This is born out of my love for children, I decided to share my stories with them to reminisce about my childhood, connect with the child in me and provide them with lessons about life.
I have sixteen titles in my name and working on more titles. As you can see many of the books I have written have a Princess element to it. This is because, I still feel like a Cinderella, a Rapunzel, with whom I feel that we share a lot in common (long hair, the innocence, the feeling of entrapment etc), and the fact that many of the Disney movies are about Princesses from non-African origin.
I try to tell an African version of some of the stories I read when at a young age. I want all the girls in the world to feel like Princesses and not limit themselves to the stereotypes placed on them. I look forward to a time when I can make my books into movies, a Disney-kind of movie.
Many of my books are a recreation of Princesses in Africa from a multi-cultural perspective. I am yet to understand why Princesses are silent in Africa-is it culture, are they non-existent? Why isn’t so much written about them if they exist or have existed? I am yet to confirm that.
In 2011, while on a trip to Istanbul, we visited the Princes’ Island. And I wanted an opportunity to re-create the story told by the tour guide about the nine islands. Thus, my book, “The Nine Princesses” was born.
“Rheena, the Anaconda Slaying Princess” was written to portray the other side of African Princesses, the warrior side.
The book “Princess Raya” is like an African re-telling of Rapunzel
My wish is to have an Africa filled with as many Princesses as possible.
If anything, my books make me “disappear from the world,” and transition to another level of living where I can connect with like minded souls, innocent, honest beings where peace and love reign.
My main challenge is getting the message out there.
Thanks for taking the time to read this and to Chris for hosting.
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