If you haven’t read Bury Me Come Sunday Afternoon, we wonder where you’ve been and what you have been reading! Ok, we are kidding but the book is such a great read and we are excited to feature the author of this epic collection of short stories on our #WriterSpotlight segment today. There’s a lot we want to say about Nike Campbell-Fatoki, aside from being such huge fans of her work. We love her openness and sincerity in this interview and the candid advice she gives to writers. Bring out your notepads Sparkle Writers. This is one interview that you have to read over and over again and keep taking notes.
Hello Nike. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?
Hi. I’m self-driven, loyal to a fault, and true to myself.
At what point did you discover that you had a passion for writing and why did you decide to pursue this passion?
I became aware of my love for writing at the age of 9/10. I enjoyed reading and that slowly transitioned into writing. Children’s books written by the likes of Enid Blyton and Buchi Emecheta were the first books I enjoyed reading. I transitioned into Pacesetter series, Mills and Boon, and Sidney Sheldon. In Secondary School I was introduced to African writers – China Achebe, Wole Soyinka Ayi Kwei Armah to name a few.
I decided to pursue writing when I discovered my love for historical fiction. I decided to write the story that I had not seen written anywhere and I wanted to birth it. I’ve stayed on this course because writing challenges me. It makes me ask difficult questions about myself and humanity. Writing allows me the freedom to mould characters, and create new worlds. It is liberating.
In what ways has your writing grown and evolved since you started writing?
My first novel – Thread of Gold Beads – was written from a first person point of view (POV). That was necessary because the story was told from the heroine’s -Amelia’s – experiences. Most writers often find this an easy POV to write, but as my writing evolved, I’ve written from second and third points of views which require seeing things from different angles. This opens the writer up to many possibilities, makes one more aware, more observant and more empathetic to others’ plights. I’ve had an opportunity to do this in my short stories – Bury Me Come Sunday Afternoon.
You have written two books so far. Can you tell us about the moment when you decided to write your first book? Why did you decide to take that step?
I was working as a financial analyst in the County Government in 2005/2006, had just had my second child and was completely submerged in building a life with my young family and a career, but I still felt something was missing. At this point, I had put aside writing fiction or journaling. I, however, did jump at any activity or opportunity that involved writing – I contributed to my church’s newsletter and was the editor of the monthly newsletter for the finance department where I worked. One day at lunch time, I remembered the story my Grandmother told me when I was about 9/10 years old of her Grandmother’s flight from the war-torn Kingdom of Dahomey. I searched online for anything that had to do with that era in Republic of Benin and was captivated by the history and culture of that era (1850s – 1890s) and I was most curious as to why a princess of that kingdom fled and how she could possibly have survived. It took me another six years to complete the draft, but I was determined to weave this tale and share with the world.
Getting published is a challenge for many writers. Did you face any challenges getting your books published?
Thread of Gold Beads was self-published. The challenge was in finding the right editor. I was fortunate to find a great one by going through some credible channels. The biggest hurdle as a writer is ensuring that you have a well written and edited manuscript.
I believe the great reception from Thread of Gold Beads opened up doors for Bury Me Come Sunday Afternoon published by Quramo Publishing.
Your book ‘Bury Me Come Sunday Afternoon’ has received great reviews since it was released. How does this make you feel?
It feels great. It’s an affirmation that when you put your heart and soul into something, good things will come.
Where did you get the inspiration to write the ten stories in ‘Bury Me Come Sunday Afternoon’?
Life inspired the stories in Bury Me Come Sunday Afternoon. Many of the stories hit close to home for me and for many that have read it because they are life experiences. The stories cover several societal issues including mental illness, religious fanaticism, and forced marriages. Majority of the stories were told from the villain’s perspective to depict that what we often see is not always the true story. As I’ve grown older, I’ve made it a point not to be so judgemental. Everyone has a story and a motive for acting a certain way. The ten stories are inspired by personal experiences and of those I have observed.
We have many writers coming out to tell the African story from an African point of view. What do you think is responsible for this?
There’s an awakening of who we are, our power as individuals, our collective power as a people and a push back at those who have told our stories and in telling these stories, have told them to suit themselves, their images and their history. It’s long overdue and I am overjoyed.
What are some of the lessons that being an author has taught you?
Consistency is key. It’s important you don’t take a long-term vacation from writing especially after you just published. Never lose momentum. Contribute to magazines, review books, stay in that creative environment. You never know when inspiration will find you.
Be thorough, your readers are intelligent.
Feedback is important. Feedback from readers brought to light themes I subconsciously weaved into the stories.
Grow a thick skin. You must be able to handle criticism.
Every experience – the good, the bad and the very embarrassing (I have a few of those) are deserving of their moments. Experience each fully. They will eventually show up in your writing. So soak up every experience, so you can take the reader on that emotional roller coaster ride they will refer to over and over again.
What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?
What are you really afraid of? If you are writing for fame, that may elude you, but if you are writing because you feel you have a story to tell that the world has been waiting for – then that passion will overcome the fear. Let go and write.
If you know any writer who you feel should be featured on our #WriterSpotlight segment or you are that writer, please send an email to email@example.com.