Prolific Novelist,bisi Ojediran

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Treble From the a-Novel-a-Year Novelist

This Day (Lagos)
June 18, 2004
Posted to the web June 18, 2004

By Tunde Okoli

A couple of years ago, he vowed in the media that he is going to be writing, at least, one novel every year. Though he has not been able to keep his promise to the letter, Bisi Ojediran during a chat with the media last week, presented three new works and also announce his publisher's plan to document the travails of Nigerian journalists in a book.

Writing for him, is both passion and talent. "That's my first love. It's a passion, it's my God-given talent. Writing is something I can't stop." Those were the words of the one pundits like to refer to as 'Nigeria's a-novel-a-year-novelist', Bisi Ojediran when Book Plus Nigeria Limited, presented his new works, Raised From the Dead: The Story of Evangelist Dan Ekechukwu, The Black Godfather and Sacred Seduction to the press last week.

At the event, Book Plus, an international publishing firm committed to the promotion and reawakening of writing and reading culture among Nigerians also announced its plans to publish a major book recounting on-the-job experiences of Nigerian journalists.

Ojediran who regretted having fail to fulfill his promise of a novel a year. "It's a pity I have not been able to keep my promise of a novel a year. It is understandable why this has been so. Still, one give glory to God for the little I have been able to do despite my tight schedules. It is the passion I have for writing that has kept me on."

The former school teacher turned journalist and now spokesperson at Shell Nigeria, said journalism ignited in him, the passion to write. This may also his decision to make his hero character, Peter Abel, a journalist.

Aside being the mouthpiece of his organisation, the only thing he likes doing most is writing. In fact, if he were not handling the media matters at Shell now, he would have definitely remain a journalist. "That's was a career I was in love with. It helped a great deal in bringing up my writing talent."

He loves writing to a fault at times. Sometimes, he does it at the risk of his health. "If I am in my study writing when I have the time to, I can do it for several hours. In fact, I often forget to eat. When I am writing, I don't feel hungry. Even when I am sick, soon as I sit before the computer writing, the illness goes away for as long as I writes. Writing is just something I find difficult to stop when I am doing it," he said.

The author who, last year, signed a publishing deal with the Manhattan, United States-based publishing agent, Mark Sullivan Associates Literary Agency to do international editions of his novels for the US and the Western markets is also a founding member of Book Plus Nigeria Limited. The deal had then been described as a major breakthrough for the book industry. A writer, literary critic and close associate of the writer told THISDAY then that the novelist whose style breathes, romance, action and investigative narrative "is solidly on the way to making his first major breakthrough in publishing. This is the first step to getting published in the crowded publishing market in the United States. And with the way things are going, readers in America and the west will start reading American editions of Ojediran's novels."

Ojediran's venture into creative writing dates back to the mid 1980s. He was teaching then in Ogbomosho. "The students liked the way I taught them and advised me to record my thoughts in book form. That was what inspired my first book, a text book on Economics". The book was an instant success. There and then, he decided to try his hands on creative writing. "I found it more pleasurable than writing textbooks. Writing to me is fun. Sometimes, one gets the kind of relief one desires from it. Though it is very tasking, it is something you always enjoy doing once you have the talent to do it," he said.

For a start, he experimented with short stories writing for Tribune and Sunday Sketch after which he tried my hands on novels. He experimented with his truly first novel, The Black Godfather in 1987. "The Black Godfather was really my first novel. It was first published by Abbey Prints in Ibadan in 1987 while I was still teaching in Ogbomoso. However, Abbey Prints went down and the book went down with it." However, he would rewrite the novel, 17 years after. "I was lucky to still have my manuscripts. But I needed to really work on the novel as I discovered so many lapses in the first edition. For instance, though I retained the most of the characters and some situations in the novel, the storyline changed. You know, I wrote the book when I didn't know Lagos well. So I have to correct a lot of things in the novel," he said.

The Black Godfather stars renowned crossover actor, Jide Kosoko on the front cover. "This", according to Ojediran, "is a strategy at reawakening Nigerians' consciousness to reading culture. I found out that our people no longer creates time to read books. Using photographs of renowned people on the cover will attract people to the book and ultimately lure them to read it. It is a way of creating attention and further popularise books promotion and marketing." What is more, the film adaptation of one of his novels, Love War is at advanced stages.

As things stands now, The Black Godfather may soon join the legion of video adaptations. Already, some renowned producer/directors are said to have been showing interest in shooting the story in film. The reasons for its attraction are not far-fetched. Aside looking like a home video on the surface, The Black Godfather also tells a story familiar to home video terrain. Indolent Kamuri, a lazy part-time farmer sacrifices the blood of his nine-year old daughter to make ritual for financial breakthrough. He elopes to the anonymous city life of Lagos where he is able to conceal his heinous crime. He becomes a power to reckon with in the city, but all through his ruthless dominance, his ugly past haunts him until nemesis prevails.

Though he recently released a book, How I was Called, focusing on the lives and ministry of he said co-authoring Raised From the Dead: The Story of Evangelist Dan Ekechukwu gave him nightmares. "Actually, I went into it with a pinch of doubt. You know, one has to get his facts right. I was scared of destroying my reputation as a writer. That's why I took my time to go through all the research. I went personally to verify all the facts."

Raised From the Dead is the story of Dan Ekechukwu who after many close shaves with death, finally dies in an automobile accident in November, 2001. However, he resurrected three days later during a church programme involving visiting German Evangelist, Reinhardt Bonnke.

Indeed, he was lucky to have acquire the rights to write the book. "I found out later that numerous foreign writers have been pestering Dan Ekechukwu to allow them write the book. But he had insisted on a Nigerian writing it. It was in the process of researching for How I was Called that I came across the story of Evang. Dan Ekechukwu."

Though, Sacred Seduction already exists on the bookshelves before now, the revised version published by Book Plus is the international edition of the action-packed novel featuring ace investigative journalist, Peter Abel who is seduced into a swirl of dangerous events planned by some foreign investors to save the "Fearless" president of a new democratic country from self-destruction, by extension, also to save billions of dollars of their foreign investing. They needed a "shock therapy" to make him sober. Nosy Peter Abel found himself entangled in the dangerous game of the parties.

A deeply imaginative novel, in Sacred Seduction situations, names of persons, places and events are suggestive rather than symbolic. For example, he uses the name Egonaira, Eyo, Ogu, K-City, Adan, Aduna to suggest Nigeria, Lagos, Ogun, Kano, Kaduna States respectively.

Book Plus Nigeria Limited explained that it is out to encourage and promote reading culture among Nigerians. The author is a great supporter of this dream. He believes people should imbibe the reading culture. As a way of further encouraging people to read, he said he has greatly subsidised the price of the novels to enable readers afford them.

Ojediran hails from Inisa Osun, in Odo Otin local government area of Osun State. He attended University of Legon, Ghana where he studied Economics. He returned to Nigeria after his studies and later took up teaching appointment before he ventured into Journalism and subsequently moved to Shell where he functions as the multinational's mouth organ.
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