Ifelanwa is a blogger I had come across last year doing my blog rounds. He also featured fiction on his blog and I was impressed with his writing talent. I did my best to encourage and so it was with joy and excitement I heard that his collection of short stories has been published. It is titled On a lot of Things and samples his work over the past few years. I approached him for an interview and you can read more from him below. The book website is HERE and you can read some of his old and new work there too.
· Brief bio
Osundolire Ifelanwa was raised in Ondo town and spent a huge chunk of his childhood there with his parents and two brothers ‘Kanmi and Ayo. Secondary ‘schooled’ at F.G.C Idoani and trained as an architect in Yabatech and Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, Ifelanwa did a stint as a bank staff in 2007 and later went on to become a development officer for a Real Estate company FWC, in Lagos. An adventure seeker by default, he joined the bandwagon of explorers to accompany the famed Dr. Newton Jibunoh to the Sahara desert, travelling from Lagos to London via road. He is currently a recipient of the British Council Innovation 360 awards and looks forward to a successful year at Birmingham City University both as a real estate professional and a writer.
· When and why did you begin writing?
I began writing in architecture school when I noticed that words had a way of capturing events that would make it seem pictorial in the mind of the reader as much as drawings did. For instance to understand some certain courses, I need to re-write them in poems or stories.
· When did you first consider yourself a writer?
When I started to write short stories on Facebook and the positive comments from readers convinced me that I could excite, inspire and whip up emotions in my readers.
· What inspired you to write your book?
Many things, circumscribed by a desire to create. However, I will like to trace the inspiration for “On a lot of things” to a loose sheet of paper I found in dump-bound junk in my home. I had written a note to myself in the future after I attended my first book launch in 2003, saying I would write a book before I was twenty five. When I saw the worn pages seven years later, I made up my mind that I would make it happen
· Do you have a specific writing style?
I wish I knew but honestly I don’t. I just write the way it comes to me. Though thinking it over now, I would say I love to write in the first person as if I am in the stories. That way I feel it more. I guess that answer counts for something.
· How did you come up with the title?
“On a lot of things”? I had posted hundreds of stories, poems, inspirational articles, notes on Facebook and when the material for the book came into question those notes seemed the best resource pool. The first manuscript was so confusing, you would not be able to place your hand on what it really was. Really, from the start, it had been on a lot of things.
· Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes! In fact, many. Underlying each story is a message deeper than just the face value of the stories. I desire that readers find it in their own way, interpreting the stories to meet their specific intellectual needs.
· What books have most influenced your life most?
Enid Blyton and Tintin were my first books so they qualify automatically. Growing up, Chinua Achebe’s “Things fall apart”, Wole Soyinka’s “Ake”, Alvin Toffler’s “Future shock”, Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad series, Ngugi’s “Weep not Child and The river between”, George Orwell’s “1984” … I ought to stop here because there are lots more.
· If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
Sydney Sheldon – because he is a fantastic storyteller.
· What book are you reading now?
Robert Kiyosaki’s “Before you quit your job”.
· Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Oh! Yes. Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Seffi Attah (my favourite) and my younger brother Ayokunle Osundolire (still unpublished)
· What are your current projects?
Working on an interactive book that gives readers the options of choice and they can write the story themselves as they read on. It should give as many as 300 different experiences in a 500 page book.
· Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
If my circle of friends can be referred to as an entity- their support was overwhelming. If entity refers to orgnaistions, No, not yet.
· Do you see writing as a career?
· Can you share a little of your book with us?
It will be my pleasure. “On a lot of things” is a collection of stories that have underlying messages for each subject it addresses. Authority the first story – is the favourite of a lot of people because of its simple yet powerful message. It tells the story of a village whose healthy inhabitants, had come to rely on crutches to walk, and over time, forgotten how to use their legs. The focus is on a young man who sets out to prove everyone wrong.
· Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Dialogue! I write narratives most of the time and it almost feels like I do so because I shy away from heavy dialogues. Writing lengthy dialogues are still a challenge but with time I will write it away.
· Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
I do not have a favourite author but I have observed that a common thread that runs through the works of my favourite authors is “Simplicity”. Nothing excites me like a story so simple, it makes a child laugh, makes an adult think and makes the aged remember.
· Who designed the covers?
Ayodele Enitan Alabi, my editor and publisher
· What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing. It would surely be editing. I almost got frustrated with the little details.
· Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
For all it is worth, I learnt a lot of patience. I also learnt not to underestimate readers and thoroughly researching your subject matter and your choice of every word. An author must have an immense reservoir of patience to write a book. Like someone once said, (I paraphrase) “Writing a story first starts with a spark of excitement, then it becomes a long drawn vocation that completely takes you over”. Unfortunately most people never make it past the excitement stage.
· Do you have any advice for other writers?
My advice is to ‘Write’! Just write! I met a well known Nigerian writer recently who told me he had written over two thousand stories. Then I realized this art is an art of consistency not just talent. You must write so much as to defy the bounds of probability in coming up with brilliant pieces every time.
· Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Please read more. Not just my book, but everything you can. A dearth of applicable knowledge is the only thing keeping the continent of Africa dark and unseen from space – let’s light it up!
· Where and how can readers buy the book?
You can buy the book online by placing orders on the site www.onalotofthings.com or visit the bookstore at Terrakulture, plot 1376 tiamiyu savage st. off Ahmadu Bello way, Victoria Island. Other outlets will be made available on the website shortly.
This interview was featured first on my blog, Myne Whitman Writes