I spend a lot of time reading novels when I’m not writing one of mine. And I’ve come across several books that really strike a nerve in my head and makes me wonder if reality is fiction or fiction is reality.
Okay. I admit. It’s not that deep. But some books really do make me think about them for hours and then I start seeing some of the characters around me. Like, I notice some of their traits in people that I know. Or, I see a situation that I really replicates what I read about.
The fact is some books are just so amazing that they make me want to go to the author, grab him/her by the collar and ask, “What was going on in your head when you thought about this awesome book?”
I don’t always get the chance to speak to the authors of the book that occupy my thinking space. (One day Ted Dekker and Ransom Riggs. I will shake the answers out out of you)
But I have found an amazing author on wattpad and he isn’t just any author. He is the author of a Nigerian book titled ‘REBELLION
The book begins when a renowned author Dayo Tijani returns to Nigeria for a one year hiatus from his work. When I think about him, I think about ice. Then there is doctor Tiolu Keye, the feminist and fire of the book.
At first, I thought it would be the normal opposites attract scenario but it was more like fire meets burning ice. I don’t want to give away all the juicy details but I will tell you what I liked about the book.
- The setting. (I 💝 my country and he described it so well in the first chapter. I was hooked from the fist page)
- The characters. (They had depth. I felt like I really knew them)
- The plot (It was gripping and terse. There was always something happening. I didn’t notice any filler chapter.)
- The themes (It deals with real issues and themes that exist in the global society and the African society especially. It also did so without being preachy or being like my biology textbook.)
These are just a few things that I liked. I don’t want to go into a full review. I think it is a very awesome book and that anyone in or planning to go into a relationship or that loves a well written and satisfying book should read it. I give it a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ rating.
But this post is all about the awesome brain behind the book. I am very excited to share the personal interview that I had with T. J. Martins.
ON T. J. MARTINS
Tell me a little bit about yourself. I know you’re about eighteen old and you’re a male.
Okay well I’m eighteen like you inferred. I hail from Ekiti state, and I’m the last out of three kids.
I graduated from highschool in 2016 but as a result of glitches I’m yet to get into school
I’m an introvert, but I’m not socially awkward although I enjoy the company of fictional characters more than actual people.
I love literature, music and books.
I’m not an everybody person
I don’t have a lot of friends—cos I don’t have that sort of energy but what I love most in people is honesty, integrity and grit. I don’t really like people who are like myself. I enjoy the company of those who have differing personas to mine.
When did you start to write?
I’ve been writing for quite a while now.
As in writing in general.
Movie drafts, elementary stories and all that since 2011 I think.
But I didn’t start writing novels until October 2016.
I was motivated when I came across Wattpad and I was like
why don’t I dabble into novels. I’ve always loved novels and I’ve been reading best sellers since I was ten. But I never thought I’d write one until Wattpad
Interesting.What brought you to wattpad?
It was really trending at the time but it was my sister who brought it to my notice. She was actually the first person to advise that I write a book but I didn’t cave in to her advice instantly. I still had a notion lodged in my head that screenwriting/movie making was more of my speed. Turns out I was wrong.
So, you said you wrote your first novel on wattpad. How was it like transitioning from screen play writing to novel Writing?
I hadn’t gotten too deep into screenwriting.
I was only a starter also, but I had gotten the software and also when I made the switch there wasn’t much to adapt to.
You said your sister encouraged you to write on wattpad. How supportive were other family members and how did that influence or shape your writing?
My dad is incredibly supportive cos he is a writer too.
My mom well, she does her best generally.
My sister reads and gives me insightful feedback and my brother isn’t a book person but he helps a lot in publicity and stuff.
You chose to write a Nigerian book but most of the popular books on wattpad are not Nigerian.
Actually Rebellion, is my third novel. My first two works were foreign so I think I was victim of that vice but not anymore.
The real reason Nigerian books aren’t well received or celebrated is because most aren’t well written. After toiling so much for an international audience with foreign projects, I decided to go back to the roots after this discovery
I knew Nigerians would read Nigerian projects if it was of high quality and foreigners too, if I manage to bridge the gap well which I did. (Rebellion’s readers stats says 40% are not Africans)
I decided to be different. There are few Nigerian books on the platform that are really good, but that’s it. They were in minute quantities while most were lacklustre. I had a pretty good plot that I knew would be relatable to anyone in the world and yeah, I hopped on the project.
How receptive was the Nigerian audience?
Reception wasn’t really encouraging at first
But I’m not the type of writer to abandon a project if it isn’t garnering a large audience and I have pretty much come around to getting used to that. None of my books prior to that, had much popularity but as time went by—good word of mouth dispersed, and reads accumulated, I came to grips with the fact that I’m going to write Nigerian books for the rest of my life.
Not because my books went viral, and gained a lot of recognition but because I grew to love writing about our western influenced culture than the genuine one itself.
Could you elaborate on the problems of Nigerian Wattpad books?
The problems aren’t with the books, it’s with the writers.
A huge proportion of the writing population don’t take the art of writing very seriously and therefore—churn out products of substandard quality. Containing cliché/stereotype plots, glaring typos, plot holes, flat/undeveloped characters, poor grammar. The list is endless.
A lot of them see it as a venture of having fun and joining the trend of ‘every-wattpadder-is-a-novelist’ but thankfully, a lot has changed these days. There has been an insurgence of brilliant, diligent writers who I’ve had the opportunity to extend acquaintanceship with.
Could you give a few names?
They are quite many
But I’d mention a few;
Benjamin Paul (@benpaul_FWC) He isn’t relatively popular, but he is the most brilliant writer I know
Then we have Charles Durueke (@clintdurueke). A friend/colleague who helped my foundation a lot.
The list is endless, but all these people here including myself belong to a writing community we call the FWC group. We’re WhatsApp based and we’re devoted to the vision of helping amateur writers navigate the hard terrains to the path of becoming a great writer.
The FWC means what exactly? What are its core principles?
Like I said earlier, our primary goal is to make every writer the best they can be.
We’re mostly Nigerians, but there are a couple of Ghanaians and a South African also I think
We have a structure and curriculum in place like an actual learning institution.
Leaders, who are the experienced, seasoned writers who help to groom the fresh talent and amateurs.
It stands for Fresh Writers Community and it was founded by Benjamin Paul. He is quite the visionary.
Your username on wattpad is Reed-Ink. Why that name of all names?
Hahaha, well its quite simple
Reed in that context is only a customized spelling of Read itself but why Reed?
Because Reed is a name on its own. So its double faceted
Read, the action and Reed the name.
Ink simply implies the brain behind the literary piece
So yeah Reed-ink.
What is your writing process like?
First off I write a story map which includes ideas for the story and all.
Then I draw up character templates, that is the outline of the characters in the book, who they are, how they’re related, what defines them e.t.c.
Then I start writing the plot,
And I incorporate all of these into it.
After completing the plot synopsis, I go on research if there is need for it before I write the second plot draft that I use for the writing itself.
Do you create characters from people around you?
Hmm, well I think so. In fact, yeah pretty much. Unconsciously I do that—because people in your life influence you greatly to the point that you don’t know.
I’m saying that I don’t go into building characters like, oh I want to make this person like that person in my life. But while building them, and stacking them up with traits in a way I’m deriving character, defining behaviors from the people around.
So yeah, they have a major influence on my work.
What is your greatest motivation or inspiration.
Motivation/inspiration can come in various ways. Sometimes, I could be listening to a song—and a line would stick that would be of more aesthetic depth than the others and that could prompt me.
Or it could be a movie/TV series with a compelling plot, or something distinct that I extracted.
I can’t really name one instance as a great inspiration cos the muse behind a project is usually an array of elements not just one ingredient.
How do you handle being a teen author? I was surprised at your age because your writing seems so mature.
I get this a lot actually but the simple answer is that I’m a different person on the laptop. So it’s like there are alter egos that I switch to for whatever the situation calls for.
I’ve not really had a social life, since I’ve been at home so I think the real challenge would be maintaining one while writing and juggling school activities. But I know I’d be able to fare well with that.
How do you deal with bad reviews and comments?
What you need to know as a writer is that you can’t please everyone. You can only try your best to express yourself in the most profound, gripping way but no story is meant for everyone. So you have to know that a time will come when you will get a negative review even when you’re good.
So how do I handle this?
I read the comment thoroughly just in case there is something of substance to pick before discarding it if its irrelevant, and it it isn’t—I accept it in good faith and thank the reviewer.
How have you grown as a writer since you wrote REBELLION.
I’ve really, really grown
Like when I was writing Rebellion, I had some misconceptions as a writer that has been cleared thank to the impact of other writers and my writing style has become more fleshed, wholesome and necessarily simpler. In Rebellion, I used a lot of big words when it wasn’t necessary but currently I only call the big guns of vocabulary when its needed and use simpler words when its appropriate.
Rebellion is my third book. My most recent completed project –Resurgence (by Tuesday it should be, I don’t know when you’d post the interview tho) is my sixth work. So there are two books in between. Lake County which just completed its serialized run and is steady amassing popularity also and another novel I wrote for a competition, I wasn’t quite so successful in.
Did loosing the competition have any negative or positive effect on you as a writer?
I’ve gotten a lot of rejection letters
When you sign up for this profession, you have to learn how to contend with that.
I won’t say it doesn’t daze me in the slightest bit, but to the point that it would affect my psyche ?
Nope, if anything it compels me to work thrice as hard.
You take your writing very seriously. Do you see your book published in paper back?
Oh yes I do.
Writing is the most important thing in my life, so I don’t joke with it.
One day, through hard work and resilience I know I’d get to the point where my books would be published in hardcover and paperbacks at the global level. Cos that’s all about my mission and brand as a novelist. Taking African literature to the world, bridging the gap and finding the perfect balance so everyone can enjoy it.
It’s not too far fetched to dream of that since Foreign based Nigerian authors like Tomi Adeyemi and Nneredi Okorofor are enjoying international recognition.
What was it like writing from a female’s point of view?
Funny enough it wasn’t strange or anything really.
I guess it’s like that because a book lover, you tend to read a lot and a huge proportion of novels are written from a female’s point of view. So I’ve spent a lot of time, immersed in the heads of many female characters—and as a result of that I’ve come about to understanding them very well.
In the book, Tiolu canvassed feminism. What is your take on feminism?
Well I think I support almost 90% of it in the sense that women are being oppressed and that sucks a lot—because the average woman works harder in this society and age, but sometimes the extremists of this movement challenge some societal conducts that have no arm whatsoever or exerts no effect on the general perception of the movement. Like how Adichie challenged men opening doors for women and the case of the woman who didn’t kneel down for her husband going viral. It’s just all irrelevant to me.
You not kneeling, wouldn’t automatically make your spouse decent and you kneeling won’t make him a dominator and monarch either. But these things only spur unnecessary conflict, which energy and momentum could be diverted into more fruitful areas.
Also, a lot if these feminists strut around without knowing what the ideology actually is, but because it’s a trend (that might not even work for them. No system is perfect, at the end of the day you live life on the principles that work best for you) they carry their shoulders about in an excuse to feel more important when they’ve done nothing relevant.
A lot of them that identify with the themes of this movement don’t want to forgo the privileges that equity grants them, yet they parade themselves like squadrons of soldiers chanting equality, equality when they’re still telling a guy who isn’t even their boyfriend that it’s his responsibility to foot the bill of a meal. It’s all saddening really
Dayo did not spend so much time with his siblings because of work but his sister was able to advice him, especially when it came to Tiolu but some people don’t believe that siblings especially with such difference between them should be that close. Like they have this respect thing about age. How do you feel about that?
I don’t believe that
I’m the last out of three children, and my elder siblings are four and five years older than I an respectively yet we all have a fantastic relationship and it doesn’t take away the respect I have for them. So I want to think that Dayo is that type of a person.
What exactly does Rebellion mean to you as a writer?
It’s a very personal project because I’ve never poured myself into the characters like that prior to that and even after. Dayo and Tiolu constitute the persona I am, fully so they’re very special people cos they’re just me divided into unequal parts. (I won’t tell you the person with a higher proportion. 😁)
Words from the author:
Resurgence is second in the book series that started with Rebellion and shares the central theme of being based on a relationship plagued with conflict. Other than that, it’s a very different book. But that’s the point. It’s having books that are so dissimilar and fresh so they’re refreshing and similar hence they’re high relatableness.
Resurgence is nothing short of a master piece quality and you should expect nothing less than greatness from it. I’m done writing it of course and I can tell you at this point that its one of a kind also. Watch out, Dayo and Tiolu return in some capacity so if you’ve read Rebellion, you would only find yourself enjoying it more. The release date for resurgence is December 7th.
Thanks for having me.
So, I guess I don’t need to tell you what I’ll be doing December 7th, 2018. 😁😁
It was a really nice interview and I did not hold his collar though so there was no shaking. Only answers.
When you do read REBELLION, I want to know what you think. Especially, since you’ve had such exclusive insight into the author’s head. And if you’ve already read the book, share your experience but be warned. No spoilers allowed.