Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Seye Oke - My First International Interview

I met Seye through American Christian Fiction Writers, and I signed up for her newsletter on her website. I've enjoyed reading the newsletters and getting to know this Christian sister half a world away in Nigeria. I know a lot of us have received Internet scams from Nigeria. It's wonderful to meet a strong Christian woman author from that country. We've talked about the challenges she faces marketing her book. Please visit her web site to find out even more about her. The link is in one of the answers below.

Tell us how much of yourself you write into your characters.

Basically I put myself into my books. I try to enter into the minds of my characters and walk in their shoes. I idealize what I would do if I were in their situation. I believe it makes the whole scenario more real if you become a part of the book in a way that doesn’t conceal the uniqueness of the characters. Often times, I put a lot of my ideologies and emotions into the lead character. I try to make her as real as possible. I also draw some circumstances and experiences from my personal experiences. I basically set the storyline in a real life situation and make every other thing fictional.

What is the quirkiest thing you have ever done?

Wow, honestly I try to be cool, calm and collected most times but sometimes I just goof like everyone else. I remember once when I was in secondary school we had a dorm party. The girls decided to give out awards. I honestly didn’t even think I would be nominated so you can imagine how excited I was when I heard my name among the nominees. When the presenter was about to announce the winner, the whole dorm just chorused my name and they all started to clap. I wanted to wait to hear the presenter say my name but I guess the applauding crowd got to me. I stood up from my seat and began the glorious walk to the stage to collect my award when the presenter corrected the erroneous belief and announced the name of the real winner which of course wasn’t me. I felt hot all over, smiled as diplomatically as I could and managed to find my way back to my seat, all the while praying the ground would open and swallow me. I have since learnt to wait for the last announcement before making the next move.

Wise counsel. When did you first discover that you were a writer?

I was sixteen; I was fresh out of secondary school and was bored to tears. I wanted to do something with my time that would be meaningful and would bring honor to God. I decided to seek His direction on which course my life should take. I remember I had been praying for a while, and then one evening a friend came to visit me. In the midst of our discussion I heard Him whisper in my ears “write a story.” Up until that moment I had not written anything more that my school essay and even that I didn’t think I did very well. It was God speaking to me so I obeyed. I picked up my jotter and wrote whatever came to my mind…and that road led me here.

Tell us the genre of literature you enjoy reading.

I love reading two kinds of books: Christian fiction and motivational books. Some other ones I read just to increase my knowledge and others I read out of curiosity.

What other books have you written, whether published or not?

I have written a couple of novels, short stories, and articles. Debbie’s Diary was my first self-published novel (2003). "Barrow Boy" and "Sleeping Bags" are short stories downloadable from my website. Bridge of Love, Prisoners of Hope and A Time to Heal are unpublished novels. I write a monthly Pen and Paper article for my site and a monthly newsletter for signed-up fans.

How do you keep your sanity in our run, run, run world?

I follow the principle in the book of Isaiah 30:15 “…In quietness and confidence shall be your strength…” I try, and I mean really try hard, to find time everyday to spend in quietness with God. That’s where I draw my strength to face the day, deliver on my job, and attend to my writing. In quietness, I find release for my soul and inspiration for the next steps. I have learnt to always put my confidence in God because I know that the one who called me is faithful and He is able to complete the good work He has started in me.

How do you choose your characters’ names?

Well I am an African and I live in Nigeria. Most of my works are set in the contemporary Nigerian world and so my characters have their names from the time and place. I add a little spice and twist to the names to make them unique. Most times the lead character has an English name in order to make that character cut across different regions of the world. The supporting characters have popular Nigerian names while other characters have unique African short form names. For instance in my new novel, Love’s Lie, the main character is Lovett. The supporting characters are Tade and Toju while other characters have names like Ada, Eno, Jide and Nina.

What is the accomplishment that you are most proud of?

I self-published my first book in the midst all the "can’t - do –can’t happen" talks. And for me this is the accomplishment I am most proud of because it made me realize that all things are possible. The whole process of self-publishing taught me more about making my dreams come through than all the books I have ever read put together. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing an idea through to completion. The whole idea of finishing is so divine and unexplainable. I am so proud of myself because I did it, at an early age, with very little funds, absolutely no prior experience, and great support from family, friends and God’s help.

If you were an animal, which one would you be, and why?

Honestly rather not be an animal but if I were, I’d be a rabbit because they are very cute and cuddly.

What is your favorite food?

My favorite meal is Pounded Yam and Egusi soup. Pounded yam as the name implies is boiled yam, pounded and mould into a small ball. Egusi soup is made out of melon seed. This meal is a favorite of many people from the Yoruba tribe in Nigeria.

What is the problem with writing that was your greatest roadblock, and how did you overcome it?

I guess my greatest writing roadblock was settling down long enough to start writing. I work as a management Consultant and that alone has a very demanding schedule. I have and am still teaching myself to write under a schedule whether I feel like it or not. With a schedule I have to write and honestly sometimes my first drafts aren’t usually admirable but once I start writing I eventually realize my mind settles down and allow the creative juices to flow.

What advice would you give to an author just starting out?

My only advice to any author just starting out is the same advice someone gave me many years ago when I just started out. He said to me, “write, write, write.” He told me to keep writing and not get bogged down with worries of how I would get them published. Now looking back on the years I realize he was right. Honestly I think writing is the hardest part, once you get that done, every other thing seems to fall right in place. Please keep writing no matter what, it will all work together for your good.

What would you like to tell us about the featured book?

Love’s Lie is simply the short form for Lovett’s lie. ‘Lovett’ is the main character in the book and the ‘lie’ is the central focus of the book. It is basically an intriguing tale about a well kept secret. It’s a story that addresses the issues of faith, family, friendship and forgiveness in a manner that everyone can relate to. The message in Love’s Lie is simply “take responsibility for your life.” The whole web of deception that was weaved between mother and daughter was done out fear and because all parties involved refused to take responsibility for their actions. The story takes a new turn when Lovett becomes a Christian and she decides to chart a new course for her life. She soon realizes it’s easier said than done when the consequences for her action threaten to destroy her faith, love and family.

Thank you, Seye, for this interview. It has given us insight into the lives of our Christian friends in other countries.

Readers, leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Love's Lie.

You can also still leave comments on Donn Taylor's, Robin Lee Hatcher's, and Annette Smith's interviews for more free books.


upwords said...

Thanks so much for interviewing Seye. My father is Nigerian and I will definitely be looking out for her books. I look forward to seeing your beautiful smile sometime soon.

Lindsey Freitas said...

What a wonderful interview... I would love to read "Love's Lie" so please enter me in the drawing!

deepbluecitrus said...

Very interesting interview and Love's Lie sounds like a dynamic book. I'd love to win a copy, but I'm going to read it one way or another.


ChristyJan said...

What a fun and interesting interview. "Love's Lie" sounds wonderful ~ please enter me in the drawing.

Theresa Shadrix said...

What a wonderful young woman! The book sounds very interesting, so I will have to get it! God Bless our sisters-in-Christ around the world.


AthleticsAfrica said...

Good work Lena.
I am so proud of Seye for all the hardwork she'd put into her writings. I've known her for a good number of years now, since 1994, and i'm just glad she stuck with her dreams and kept believing despite all the hurdles. God bless you.

LaShaunda said...


Thanks for introducing us to Seye and her writing. Great interview.

Kathleen Morphy said...

This sounds interesting. I've recently introduced a friend to Christian fiction, and this sounds like a books she'd enjoy.

Norma said...

The book sounds great - I would love to read it!

Kimberlee said...

being a cover-freak, the cover of Love's Lie has captured my fancy. It seems like a great story too!

Anicz said...

I like the names Jide and Toju. Love's Lie sounds like a fresh addition to Christian fiction. I would love to read a book from a Nigerian point of view. It's always interesting to read stories from different region of the world.

tetewa said...

Would like to be entered in the draw!