Monday, October 17, 2016

In Conversation with Raymond Elenwoke

I've recently had the pleasure of being included in a horror anthology of fabulous African authors, Lights Out: Resurrection that was edited by Wole Talabi, so I thought I'd take a little time to get to know my fellow authors. Today it's Raymond Elenwoke who's over for a little Q&A...

I realise we know very little about each other. Tell me more about you and what you love writing.

My name is Raymond Elenwoke, and I am a Nigerian writer. I am also an auditor and financial consultant, currently residing in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, Nigeria. I love writing stories that explore a variety of genres, mainly horror, thriller, speculative fiction and sci-fi.

How does living in Africa inform your writing? Tell me more about your environment, and a day in your life.

For me, the phrase “living in Africa” feels very vague, because Africa is too big and diverse to be classified as a single place. I live in Port Harcourt in Rivers State, Nigeria, and even then, living there is very different from living in, say, Elele, in the same Rivers State, because these towns/cities have very distinct personalities.

Having said that, living in Port Harcourt is an exercise in patience, both with yourself and your environment. This has affected my writing in more ways than one. In the sense that I am (still) learning to infuse the identity of the town I set my stories into the story, no matter the genre. My environment helps inform my thinking, both in terms of character development and in terms of setting. Being someone who learned his trade from consuming books and writing advice from foreign (Western) authors/movies, living in Port Harcourt helps me realise that the police procedures in Phoenix, Arizona or Luton, United Kingdom are very different from the police procedures in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. This helps me also realise that my characters will have certain challenges unique to not just the environment in which I set them, but also unique to the culture of the place AND time the story is set in.

My environment is quite dynamic. I may start the day at my desk and end it in a client’s office halfway across town, or in class, studying for my professional exams. My day usually starts at about 4.30 am, and after my morning devotion, I have to study for a bit before training/exercising for a few minutes, and then leaving the house for work. If I get to work early enough, I can write a bit, if not I have to wait until the close of work to be able to let my imagination run wild. In between this, when I am on break I could read a story or two, or watch a show to relax.

What are you reading at the moment?

At the moment, I am studying for the final round of my professional exams, so this has limited my literature reading time. However, one I am reading now is Breakers by Edward W Robertson, which is a surprisingly good book about the end of the world. Before this I read the amazing Doctor Sleep by the effervescent Stephen King, and I also reviewed the excellent Rosewater by Tade Thompson, published by Apex Publications, the smartest story about an alien invasion I have ever come across. Pre-order it as it comes out in November 15, 2016. You can read my review of it here.

So is it courage or strength, And is that what I’m waiting for… I once said Rosewater would make me wax lyrica...

In addition to my professional reading, I am reading, you guessed it, Lights Out: Resurrection. Amazing collection. Seriously.

Tell us more about your story as it appears in Lights Out: Resurrection.

My story is titled "Koi-Koi". The title is derived from the sound any person who attended Boarding School in Nigeria will most likely recognise. The story revolves around Lady Koi Koi, the Secondary School Legend.

When I was approached to write a story for the collection, I had no idea what I was going to write, to be honest. I saw the email on Monday morning at the office, and realised that I had until Friday to write and submit a story. Even though I had nothing, I joyfully accepted the story, because I had been waiting for the literary event. I had a story that had been swimming beneath the surface,so I started writing. 80% into the story and about two to the deadline, I realised this was not the story for the collection, so I left it unfinished, and spent most of the day letting the story tell itself to me. When it was ready, I set about discovering it.

Koi-Koi is an imagining of origin of the Lady Koi Koi mythos, because why not? When I first heard the tale, all I could picture were legs in a pair of black heels. No body. Just from the knees down. There were more ghostly/supernatural tales from my time to choose from, but this one…this one had a silent menace about it. You always seemed to hear it, only in the dark, only at night, but you never saw it. Those who did…well, I would imagine they were either dead or too far gone t really tell us about their experience….

*sinister laugh*

What are you writing at the moment?

At the moment, I am working on a number of projects.

First off I am working on a serial story I started writing when I was studying in London a few years back. It is time for the story to come home.

I am also working jointly on a project with another amazing writer friend of mine, Seun Odukoya. The project involves Sango and Amadioha, the Yoruba and Igbo gods of thunder.

I am also finishing my novel, Rising Night, a story that has detectives, angels, demons and yes, ninjas.

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