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Blood Contract

Hey, I am feeling pink, because Bobby took me back to my very first novel internationally. He read my very first novel with IFWG publishing. BLOOD CONTRACT.
Couple of my religious friends were scared off by the title imagining I was going to write about some voodoo stuff. Those were very puzzling days, confusing to me as well. It was an ey-opener learning that my side of the pond had yet to get over the bogey thrown into them by our white masters about our local brewed religion. I think that was why I wrote the Numen Yeye series. I must have told you how Numen Yeye started and so much has passed since the days of BLOOD CONTRACT.Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000038_00061]
However as I learned and hopefully grew in the novel writing business, I got into the habit of reviewing books for authors like me. Some of the authors paid me back by offering to read my own books. That natural law of give and take happened recently with Bobby and I.
So he first bought Rose of Numen and then gave me the extra gift of reading my very first book. This is what he put in amazon.com and goodreads.
“I really enjoyed Biola’s book Blood Contract and recommend others read it. It kept me intrigued and wanting to read more. As someone who knows nothing about the Niger Delta, I found this book to be very informative of the land, culture, and societal problems. Blood Contract deals with issues of corruption, greed, evil, rape, oil bunkering, family, societal norms, God and poverty, just to name a few. I am now more informed of the Niger Delta, the damage of oil bunkering, the corruption of young boys and men, and the suffering that exists in that part of the world. I also found Biola’s writing to be inspiring and I look forward to reading her other books as well”.
A river has passed under the bridge since that book was written. I had an offer to have the book made into a film script. I even had the script written and my excitement rode the skies, but then this was my country and for all the dreams of mice and men. Sigh…. Who knows you just might read this and decide to send me a query about the book. So I will be waiting okay?
What makes us write? What do we want to achieve? For every million unknown writers out there in the great world, there are the tiny few that attract attention and somehow hold that attention.
When I started to write some 42 years ago, I had very small illusions about making the millions or even smile to the bank. But I had stars in my eyes about the written word and that excitement has outlived all other feeling till date.
I am crazy about writing. I have written television plays to educate adolescents, parents, and written just about every topic including horror!
I hope I have matured over the years, 42 years ought to count for something right? But I am still interested in human beings, our dreaming, and the painful thud when we have to face the hard grind of reality.
An elder in my community who had written for longer than I have, answered my naïve question about living on writing with a gentle laugh, said I might be hungry for a long time. He was right. But I feel like a child in a candy store when I am asked to write a story and I can deliver that story within days. Television scripts I might add. Writing a full length novel was a different kettle of fish.
So what do you think? Did you ever read that my first love affair with the virtual world when I clicked on a name and he became a much loved publisher… Gerry Huntman.
I have been blurbing right? I don’t know really but I feel like just sharing with you this time. You know like some friend you are used to warbling with. Lol.
Chat soon

Numen Yeye Series

It is my new year. On the first Saturday of this month I turned 65. Nothing new in that as one day looks very much like another eh? For me though, birthdays are markers and I have a habit of looking forward to them. You know, do reviews and previews of my the past months and years sometimes. It was special for me this year because I had a chance to formally unveil to my own circle of friends my book two of the Numen Yeye series. Rose of Numen had been releases a couple of weeks before then.
I am using the instrument of fiction and facts to tell my people a story, and it is with a longing that we will dispense with the false façade we give the world. We are Nigerians, and I know that deeply ingrained in every Nigerian is a search for the Truth.
Why did I start these Numen series?
I spent my early years in the Northern part of my great country. I was used to walking wide open spaces in the blistering sun , the wild windy storms that will stop as abruptly as it had started.. We lived in Kaduna and I spoke the Hausa language instinctively with family and friends. I listened to tales of the dark south as I heard tales of rituals, dark medicine and held the southern peoples specifically my Yoruba homeland in dread.
When my policeman father was transferred South, we thought we had received a veritable death sentence. I had a sense of being closed in. Then I met my maternal grandmother and heard a story that opened a love for my tribe, a questioning of the very things that had kept me frightened. She was a priestess, a love and mystic that in the very simplicity of her life showed I had nothing to be afraid of. She told me about the pantheon of the gods of my ancestors and how it is I could find the same in any particular religion in any particular part of the planet Earth. Above all, these gods in a single thread led straight to Olodumare, the Supreme One.
So I wrote the Numen Yeye series first as a play, in the same trilogy as I later did in prose.
Last Saturday, I presented to my own community of friends and fellow authors, the second in the series…ROSE OF NUMEN.Rose of Numen front cover
Let me share one of the comments of Lloyd Weaver an African-American, when I gave him the book to read before coming to the presentation:” I am totally stunned. There is nothing more to be said. I thank the Mother of All.. You have put your soul on the line and rendered your life sacred.”

Lloyd Weaver

Lloyd Weaver


Quite heavy words for me but I understood what he meant for Lloyd is an Ifa priest of a reputation that earned him a chieftaincy title from the accepted cradle of Yoruba land, Ile Ife. I felt excited when he came to the launching and spoke glowingly about the book. His comments underlined the comments of the book reviewer, a head of the department of literature, Dr. Sola Owonibi.IMG-20151005-WA0029

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In the words of Dr. Owonibi, “I am a teacher of Literature, I should know about Literature and with all sense of responsibility, the book Rose of Numen, is a great work of Literature. It is a great work of literature, a book that I am proud to recommend to anyone. I congratulate the author on a well written book and the publishers for a great cover and layout.”
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I felt like I was floating on a cloud and listening to accolades for someone else. I will continue next week . I hope you will order for your own copy.
You can buy a copy from ifwgpublishing.com
Or at amazon.com

The Trail…..Conversations

There is something I always find a bit exciting. That is peeping into the inner writer through reading his works. It took a while before I got that, but soon enough I noticed that you could sense the nature of the writer from what he puts out for the world to read. No, it does not mean horror writers are horrible or man size horrors. I do know one or two horror fans that are very gentle and sensitive but try to write out the horror of what life has given them. It is a concept of their frustration. I remember reading the novel of some of my favorite authors and learning a bit of their inner thoughts about the society they observe.

I use writing as a healing process, sometimes as a control measure. I asked my youngest daughter going through the agony of broken romance to write it out of her system. It took a while before she agreed I was making sense but when she finally wrote a small piece, she was alarmed at how murderous she felt. I advised that she should accept she was  never going to push such thoughts into the public domain but she could see how badly she had been affected by the wretch.

Pushing such thoughts into the public domain? What do I mean really? It is like this. I think we affect others with what we put out and at a higher level we are bound to the effects of what we write. The human word is a grace from the creator and sets in motion thoughts, words and deeds that we are linked to by the laws of nature. I am not writing a religious piece.

Let me share an experience, I have been writing since the mid 1970s and I remember one piece I wrote for a radio drama series as a radio producer. I had written about vengeance and had some radio actors going through the scripts. It had to do with the anger of a young man whose father was left to die in the rain by a hit and run driver. Fair I felt in the understanding I had that the young man was entitled to exact his own vengeance knowing that justice was a matter of money in my country.

I stopped the production the next day when I actually drove to the next town and came across a hit and run old man who had been left in the rain to die. I was stunned, shocked and miserable for days. Did I sense the story in advance? My skin was goose bumped for days and I shivered remembering I had described in detail how that had happened. I stopped the production because in my writing the grieving son had embarked on a vengeance trip of the drivers at the garage in a desperate search for the hit and run driver who had killed his father.

I didn’t know the son of the real old man I found later, but I did not want to be held for such murderous thoughts I had written. I learned that day, the power of the word, what it creates, hey, we call it creative writing. So I guess I just didn’t want to create such in the minds of people. Later on in life I did write about murders, the pain of the victim’s close ones and the attempt to find closure. I always worried about the job. You could not start saying writing has a job hazard do you?

The point of this conversation is this? Writers do leave a trail of their inner self behind in the stories they write. I know one author who wrote Guardians of the sky realms, Gerry Huntman. He wrote a very sensitive sci-fi fantasy about young adults and the concepts of building the right emotions in these young minds.  Chivalry,  loyalty, courage and dignity. Standing up against evil, I suspected from his writings the type of parent he was likely to be and learnt over time his sense of fierce loyalty to people he calls his friends. It was a peep into the inner man.

There is Merle Burbaugh, very young man in his late sixties or thereabouts and his books tease you to be up and upright, but he writes as if he is self- conscious about being nice.  What am I trying to say today? That consciously or otherwise, writers leave bits of their inner world view in what they write. How they see things, I am not even thinking of psychoanalyzing writers. I am as crazy as the next writer I think and would take umbrage at such a suggestion.

We do have egos you know, some pea sized, while some could be gozzilla sized. I tend to use people I know as characters in my stories. It is easier to build a character when you have a definite picture of the person in your head. Some characters do approach you. Like the old woman who simply popped in my head one afternoon as I was trying to reconstruct a poem. I was too surprised and listened in to what she was telling me.

When you write, do you immediately think you have a best seller? I am kind of curious like I can go into the mind of J.K. Rowling and ask her that. Do writers write because they want to be best sellers? Hey, would you call Shakespeare a best- selling author now? Was that what he was thinking when he wrote or what was the name of that fellow who told the story of that sleepy man? I mean the one who slept and slept and woke up to see the world has changed. Yes Rip Van Winkle.

I am sometimes scared by the rate at which I can’t remember names, for right now some names just teases the edge of my memory and slips away into the edge of the forest. I find it a bit exciting just chatting with you. Not much harm in that is there? The worst that could possibly happen is a yawn and you might flip the page, but you got as far as here waiting for me to make some sense.

I won, for you see, this is my own version of our conversation.

GROWLING JANUARY

GROWLING JANUARY
The year woke up bleary eyed and growled at a few of my friends. First hint I had of its bad temper was when I was informed a great friend of mine had bit the dirt. A heart attack had taken him to the great beyond. I blinked and desperately held on to my pain as I tried to accept that I was never going to see his green light blinking any time I came online. Skip Slocum was one that was not going to make suggestions, critique, and suggest to me on storylines anymore. I felt cold and stared accusingly at the computer daring it to tell me it had no hand in what had happened to Skip. When Lisa sent me email asking if I was aware that Skip had passed, my heart felt the blows again. It was the silliest reason to be angry and I glared at the computer.
It did not help that I had told myself I was going to be more at the darn computer this year. I had just taken on a job to teach a couple of young persons about the dangerously addictive job of being a scriptwriter. I had even shared that excitement with Skip and now the joke was on me. It was going to be lonelier, typing and sharing with just me I thought and mercifully remembered that there was Lisa the third leg of the triangle that made up what we fondly called the chord.
We were officially supposed to critique each other’s writings, share our dreams and sometimes we became impossible and teased each other endlessly. The very special moments we shared online became almost real to me. Skip and Lisa became real people to me. I had dreams of flying the pair and their spouses over to Africa to enjoy the sun and coconuts. For some reason, we seemed to think Skip would love coconuts, we promised to dress Skip and Bunny (that is what he called his wife) in proper African gear. I said I was going to feed them on my local cuisine and …bleh.. we were going to beat drums… the dream was a dream we knew it but we had fun. The agony now is knowing Skip was not going to be around , not even online. Erg.
I sighed and tried to see from swollen eyes if I could stick my tongue at the year and get on with my life, but then the news came that a colleague of mine in the broadcasting world had decided to pick up a celestial microphone. Apparently he had a more lucrative offer to do celestial programmes so he left. I scratched my head wondering what he thought he was thinking leaving me behind. Darn he was in his early fifties. I am exactly a decade older. Suddenly I watched each sunset with dread, wondering what the darkness had on its wings and felt a shamed relief each time the tiny fingers of the sun prodded my eyelids to a new day. My mouth formed a grateful thanks and I feverishly longed that by some miracle the day might just be made into thirty six hours. There was so much I still wanted to do.
Was I too late? Had the dream tarried? Would I make the miles of dreams I had drawn before I meet up with the old man with his scythe? I did not like the questions, couldn’t one just know what time was left? When should I retire? Was I being morbid? I squirmed at the realization that I loved being alive. Phew!. Did I just use the word love in the past tense? What if the gods are listening? They don’t like being taunted and wel, I breathed a sigh of relief, the gods don’t speak English anyway I said and turned the computer on. Darn, I was going to write I told myself firmly, then I decided to visit MWC, short for My Writers Circle, did some tentative posting and smiled, the day promised sunshine and I relaxed. Sango who was stretched out on the mat with his axe was kicked awake by the growl of the skies. He looked up and gave me a wink, I frowned and my phone indicated I had a text message. I lazily reached out for it and sat bolt upright.
Yeah, you guessed it, another friend had just departed. Much younger, my television producer with whom I had produced quite a lot of television enter-educate dramas. He was of the rare breed of producer/actor with loads of talent that seemed to hold him suspended between bliss and agony. He had opted out of earthly productions too.
We are still in January and suddenly I am wondering why January seemed to be growling so badly. The rains came early and sniffed at the sun too. The leaking roof is not helping my temper either. What do you think I should do?

Writer’s block or Lethargy?

I have had an intense week. Okay who hasn’t? I heard that , but we agreed to have a conversation okay? The problem felt simple., I have heard about writers block. You know sitting in front of the computer and you stare at the keys but nothing happens right? Good. How do you explain having lots of stories running riot in your head and you actually have finished the story in your head….or so you think and then for the life of me I simply open the computer and blimey, I go over to social networking and Lord I am lost. I giggle, smile, even chuckle at some of the posts and then three hours later am tired, sleepy and the characters sadly head for my head, another wasted night the characters mutter to themselves settling in different corners of my brain. We all spend a very restless night. Some of them are angry enough to inflict some level of nightmares on me. Am I addicted? There are days I simply sit by the computer and stare too fuddled to even go the social media sites and then in some unexplained misery, shut down. I sense a problem but for the life of me I am at a loss to explain it to me. Then I have what I privately call writing binges. I simply can’t seem to stop. Poems, jokes, drama, and I simply seem to haunt my social pages then. I find it difficult to get to bed. Those times Numen simply sniffs and goes to a corner not giving me a thought. I know why because inspite of that frenzy, I have not gone back to the sequel about her story.
We have been avoiding each other for days now. I started on the story then asked her a question and she took umbrage. The question was simple and clear.. do gods and goddesses fall in love? She gave me such a long silence that I imagined that she had left and then a long sigh came and she whispered.
“What do humans know of love? Of its awesomeness? Love, the world rotates on that axis and it is the template that determined the world. No, not the weak self- serving version you humans call love. Have a look into creation from the molten fiery depths of the plates of the earth that serve as the shoulders of Atlas to the roar and silence of the depths of the sea that is the belly of Neptune to Sango’s speed swinging in service and obedience to the Will of the Creator”. She paused for breath and I sensed her frustration. She sighed.. “Don’t ask such a silly question my friend. Humans have no real concept of Love, if they did, they would swing in the Natural laws and I would have little reason to be here”.
An amused chuckle escaped me and she smiled in return not one whit fazed by my supercilious amusement. Suddenly I was bored and I felt the dread of my disbelief. I was talking about my disorganized writing regime and was not really interested in in gods and goddesses I mumbled in irritation. Now I will have to sit down and make some sense of this blog, I continued complaining.
How do I solve this peculiarity? Is that what is meant by writer’s block or in my case a plain case of mental laziness. Ouch! At least you could pretend to be reading and be amused at my attempts at writing.
Now I do have a problem, I have been trying to decide if I should shoo Numen out of my head, life and space. She really has not finished her story but I am not so sure because I have a sneaking suspicion that she is going to tell me something that I might find difficult putting it right in words. Fantasies could become blurred you know. It is a longing for escape. I also have a simple confusion. Would I be stretching the magic if I write a sequel to Numen Yeye. In its original manuscript (by long hand, two big notebooks and hundreds of sheaves of loose sheets), Numen Yeye had spanned three parts. Must have been crazy in those days I used to say to myself. I mean who wants to read about sagas? My fingers ached and so did my back from sleepless nights. She sat glued to me then. Come to think of it she has stayed back and close since 1981 when she walked in.
Since Numen Yeye came out, I have noticed that my friends tend to give me strange looks. Like they wonder at me. I take great pains to explain it is a story but my close friend gives me a look that suggests she really does not think so. Kind of convenient that I find the social media a good excuse right?
A friend from the other side of the pond simply dismissed my story as superstitions and stuff and from his Olympian height said he did not care for such stuff. I scratched my head, puzzled. I had read his sci-fi stories and though I did not understand his imagination I had read his book no books and enjoyed the artistry of his words. Why am I puzzled? He did not extend to me a charity that I had hoped. The sharp end of reviewing that every writer dreads, accepts and helplessly hopes that he would not have to face.
You know as a writer, you do hope that your book will be well received. You hope that at the very least friends will see the merits of the effort and make a fair comment. Some of my friends have been generous, I thank them, some have been blistering and I do thank them as well.
My editor said everything.. He said, there can be only two ways people will see your story… those who will like it and those who will not understand where you are at. That gave me lots of comfort. So when a fellow Nigerian said she could not wrap it round her head I smiled. Or the fellow author who said he was going to dump reading the book because he did not care for superstition, I did not bother telling him that we had chatted on social media about the book while I was writing.
I just remembered something.. Have you read the book Numen Yeye? By the way I do reviews too. You know in obedience to the law which states that it is only in giving that one receives lasting values.
Let’s meet again soon and I sincerely hope my lethargy will lift and I can report that I have gone someways with Numen ‘s sequel.
Hasta la vista friends.

Conversations…..Talking with Numen

I have been going round in circle in my brain. A couple of reason why I feel like my grandfather’s clock…you know the one that stopped working on the day he died. Remember that song? If you are from my side of the street, you might get where I am coming from. I did say I was going to use this blog to hold conversations. I never really asked you what you thought of that either.
You know this monologue thing is not going to get me anywhere. Used to think if I just ignored the gnawing fear that rides my back sometimes I might just see past my fears. It is like giving birth to a baby and you assume there cannot possibly a baby just like yours. Those tiny perfect fingers could only be just that of your baby.
When I wrote Numen Yeye, she started out under different names really. First it did not have a title just a collection of stories and cultures and then I met the lady one evening. I was actually writing a poem and suddenly in my mind I heard the first sigh and looked around wondering who was so sad.
Then she whispered in the nicest way possible. “Can I tell you about me”? I stayed my hands on the keyboard and waited for the voice to come again and without warning she changed the subject.
I have be in love too you know, though in my time we did not understand it the way you have done. My skin not the hair on my neck stood on ends and suddenly it was very cold in the room. My children were doing their home- work and there was no husband in sight. I had just started living in my state capital, one hour’s drive away from my village
No thanks, I did not believe in ghosts, folk tales and any of that ‘barbaric’ stuff I used to tell my mother. “so who was talking?”
“You really have no need to know my real name just want to chat, isn’t that the word you say in these parts’?
In those days, 1981, I was a scriptwriter more than a writer. So in one night, in long hand I wrote the manuscript. By the morning when my son came to ask me what was for breakfast, my fingers were stiff. My character(I did not know her name then) talked. Just soft whispers, she had a soft voice, and would occasionally pause if I indicated doubt and then I would sense her shrug, so I would ask her to continue or ask a few more questions, like clarifications.
One time during the long night when she sensed I was tiring she would break her story and tell me bits about the village gossip. She seemed to know everybody. I remember asking her if she was an old lady and she gave a small laugh and said it would make no difference if she told me her age but she painted a picture of herself.
“Just think of Woman as she ought to be and you would have an idea what you look like” she had answered in that voice that was beginning to be familiar.
“What I look like”? I asked taken aback, looking round the empty silent room.
“I am young, middle aged, and very old like from time” she said a small laugh in her voice.
“Yes, I can sense you so please continue” I invited knowing she could just stop talking and I was having an experience that I wanted to feel to its last conclusion.
She gave that soft laugh again and said she would be back the next morning or night as she was most times confused by our times and levels.
Then my mind went blank and I looked up. My son was staring at me in bewilderment.
“Mum”?
“Yes dear, go back to sleep” I replied absently as I looked on the sheaves of paper in front of me
“Mum, it is morning. I left you here writing last night.”
“What?”
“So what can we have for breakfast I am hungry” he looked at me strangely.
I stared at the manuscripts, the long hand that had gone in different directions and tried to picture if I had been writing in my dream. I had talked to a character all night. I had more than 300 pages of longhand writing and sighed as I pictured another day typing them. I did not have a computer then and I knew she was coming back.
I gave my sister money to buy something for breakfast. I started typing.
It was my first my conversation with Numen

Numen Yeye……Impression from readers

I have been in between clouds and wondering when I might come down to terra firma. Why? I had been tensed up for weeks about my book Numen Yeye. There had been times when I had shrugged, told myself bravely I would take the bricks or I would be gracious if I got roses.
Okay, could I say anything in my defense. Numen Yeye is very important to me because of a couple of reasons. Maybe it is time I give a little bit more insight why Numen Yeye became important. In my neck of the woods, we have two fairly distinct camps. There are writers who write exclusively for the readers in the country and make no pretense about that. Then there are the ones who want to write for a global audience but those have two clear sub groups. The writers who write about our customs from the standpoint of seeing everything cultural as barbaric. They tend to want to write more for the western audience solely and have a taste to show us off as unmitigated savages.
There is the other sub group who talk to the global market square in a language that creates a reality of who we are, understanding where we come from but innately identifying with us, warts and all. I would like to belong to this group. I am Nigerian, with my eyes wide open, knowing about my country, accepting me warts and all. I feel we are not as terrible as we have been painted, because we are a round group of tribes with our suspicions of each other, exasperation at our leaders and the failures we face when we do not accept that Life is motion and it is important we get the business of living right.
Am I making sense? I wish to try to make sense. There is a saying in my corner of my country in my language which loosely translated states clearly that only an illegitimate child will point to his father’s house with his left fingers. When I came across that statement I was curious and asked my grandma to explain. She gave me a little lesson about loyalty. I learned being loyal does not mean whitewashing the truth when we are faced with it but being honest enough to admit our ignorance and courageous enough to take a peep into the dark ignorance that hold us in thrall.
Thus when my book Numen Yeye became available in print, I wanted to know what my tribe felt about it. After all I was writing about myths and concepts we have buried under our civilized skins. These myths and concept colours our beliefs and we needed to maybe be open about it and not shrug it off as ignorance, myths, superstitions.
Let us share excerpts of some of the reactions I have so far…
My first impression of Numen Yeye was WOW! This is different, I kept reading and I’ve come to the conclusion that its a breathe of fresh air, different from the norm. Its very insightful and paints a fairy tale yet plausible picture of a series of events, all in all a very good read and I recommend it for anyone who wants to step out of the clutches of mundane reasoning and have a different point of view on certain Nigerian ‘mythological’ beings….Segun Agoro (film maker/Stride Communications)
The book Numen Yeye is the story of Imole Ife before her conception through conception, birth, growing up to adulthood. It showcased partly the way an average girl would grow up in the western part of Nigeria.
On the other hand, Ife a special child mixed her eccentricity with the usual, while growing up. Ife only distinguishes people and situations by light or darkness and relates with them accordingly. Grandma Olaoye for instance was always surrounded by dark shades of colour while Yeye was always accompanied by light. In another instance, when Tinu’s baby was about to die, Ife required more light around her, in the hope that it would repel or clear the impending doom.

The constant migration of Ife between the physical and the spiritual is very gripping and keeps the reader hooked, if not for anything else, for curiosity. She is constantly in communication with one misty or another and most of her activities are pre-guided from the spiritual world. The friendship between Sasaenia and Ife suggest bonds that are out of the ordinary, that exist amongst humans but may not have any easy or ordinary explanation.

The book went through a lot of the rich culture of the Yoruba ethnic group in Nigeria, treating the following parts of their culture:
The marriage process,
The value of chastity,
Initiation in to adulthood and guilds,
The art of story-telling and transfer of wisdom from the elderly to the young,
The seeking for divination
Traditional belief and superstition, surrounding the existence of abiku and emere,
Communal way of living in polygamous family settings, embedded with jealousy and mutual suspicions.
The beginning of Chapter 14 is a vivid account by the author in lewd as well as enthralling narration, a phenomenon called ‘OKO ORUN’ by the Yoruba. Quite strange, but almost real.
Many times the reader gets lost in the thoughts of Numen Yeye (written in italic) and makes them forget her story in the real world.
Noticeable is the fact that the book with thirty chapters has no pagination. The language of the book is very easy to understand and the content is very relatable for Africans. To other readers who are not familiar with that culture, it would be an adventure into the thought system of traditional people and their basic life and way of living….Ms Olufunke Tolutope(psychologist and blogger)

In my next post I will share the full review of the state newspaper on the book Numen Yeye. Meanwhile it will be nice to have your thoughts on this book.
Numen Yeye is available on Amazon.com

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