My greatest achievement is “finding myself”… every word I have written has shaped me positively to do better than my last work…development in this field. – Tomi Adesina
To our readers, have you discovered yourself? Have you searched deep within to bring out the hidden genius in you?
Okay, now let’s get up close and personal with TOMI ADESINA, 2015 NWA YOUNG WRITER OF THE YEAR.
NWA: For the benefit of those who do not know you Tomi, briefly talk about yourself.
Tomi: I am Tomi Adesina, a writer – screenwriter, poet, fiction series blogger and a filmmaker. Born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria. I am a big fan of photography, music and art in general. I am an ardent football fan and my favourite team is Chelsea Football Club.
NWA: Let’s get to know more about your educational background
Tomi: I am a Microbiology graduate of Bowen University. I am currently undergoing a Master’s Programme at the University of Lagos in Environmental Biology.
NWA: How long have you been writing?
Tomi: Writing is the only thing I can remember ever doing since I was born. It’s God-given for me and I am thankful to Him for giving me the Grace to have identified it pretty early enough. I however started blogging fiction in 2012 which did take my works a step higher and in late 2013 I got into screenwriting for TV shows.
All my blog fiction can be found at http://tomiadesina.wordpress.com
NWA: Aside from writing what else do you do?
Tomi: I am a filmmaker. I have recently started and I have shot three short films. “Her Lines” which is a docudrama has been produced and was released last year. It can be found on my YouTube channel here:
I have two other short films in post-production. Both are social dramas; One on Autism and the other on Rape. I am also a screenwriter but then, that’s also part of writing, yeah?
NWA: Tell us more about your novella Hearts and Homes, for bring back our girls campaign?
Tomi: Hearts and Homes was a story I decided to write when hearts were aching. There were torn apart. Daughters missing. Husbands fighting up North. Lonely wives. Worried Parents. We all had our fair share one way or the other in the pain. It was a story of respite and hope that maybe someday, we would smile about this issue and have our girls back. So when I thought about it, I wanted to speak for people who had a lot to say (especially the missing girls) but had no words. The Novella was released on the 14th of April, 2015 and was positively received and featured in several Newspapers and a Radio show. It was a campaign and call to the Government to intensify their efforts regarding the rescue of the girls. I only chose to make my call through what I know how to do – writing. I might not have been there to live the experiences but it is frightening to think about what they would be going through and how much effect it had on their friends, families and loved ones. It is quite unfortunate that it seems as though we would have no resolve to that issue.
NWA: You won the young writer of the year at the Nigerian Writers Awards; did you expect you will win?
Tomi: Expect? I can’t emphatically say yes because there are other deserving writers in that nominee’s list but I did feel that I have earned my place in that list and winning it was a rare privilege.
NWA: How did you feel winning the award?
Tomi: I was absolutely delighted and I felt favoured by God because like I said there are other writers deserving of it. Also, I was nominated in a total of four categories, so winning that big one did give me some joy. A lot of joy. I am grateful that I was considered worthy of it. I am also thankful to all my blog readers and fans who have supported me so far. The journey has only begun.
NWA: As a creative young writer we believe greater achievements await you, but so far what has been your greatest achievement?
Tomi: Greatest achievement for me has to be “finding myself” as regards writing and this is not to say that I don’t appreciate any award that I have won in the time past, but every word I have written has shaped me positively to do better than my last work, so that is what I am most grateful to have achieved; development in this field.
NWA: As a writer what has been your biggest challenge so far?
Tomi: My biggest challenge so far as a writer has been having to deal with the words I have been unable to say. It’s a constant battle dealing with characters in your head who just want to be expressed.
NWA: If there is one thing you are given the power to change in Nigeria what will that be and why?
Tomi: It would be to change the mentality of individuals before voting new leaders in Nigeria because I believe we are yet to fully realize our power as citizens talk more of utilize it and this is a fundamental reason why we are stuck in a present day rot. But I can only be hopeful that the present day Government can address the systemic problems that we face in Nigeria like economic policies, housing, road and transportation networks, power, and poverty. But then, this is something I wish I could change if I had the power, I don’t and you can’t really can’t save people from themselves.
NWA: How do you see the writing in Nigeria?
Tomi: I think there is a terrific writing spirit in Nigeria. It’s fast growing and there are lots of writers with great talent and most importantly, there is a population of interested readers of fiction and non-fiction alike. It is a positive market that can only get better, writers get better, readers get more receptive to various genres and in the end, promoters and organizations support the craft because it is needed to develop the reading and writing culture.
NWA: Who are your favourite writers and what work(s) has made a great impact on you?
Tomi: Francine Rivers’ “Redeeming Love” has had the greatest impact on me. I also read Danielle Steel, Jodi Picoult, Karen Kingsbury, Ted Dekker, and John Green.
NWA: Some people see writers as the busy type who has little or no time to relax, how do you unwind?
Tomi: I spend most of times alone. So I am either listening to music or playing FIFA or PES, and recently I have cultivated the habit of seeing movies at the cinema, so I just take some time out to see a new movie, although it’s more of a critical experience for me than fun because I find myself analysing the movie even while watching it. So maybe the real fun I have is playing FIFA or PES.
NWA: What is your perception of people towards Nigerian writers?
Tomi: I think opinion is quite relative from the audience in general but I have read some opinions online where quite a number of readers disagree with some Nigerian and African writers in general portraying Africa with strong traditional depiction and not giving the younger audience the ability to relate more with new realities. And then, there is also the argument where Africans feel the need for their story to be told. Personally, I don’t belong to either school of thought, I just believe in writing and creating characters that live. Once I have achieved that, I have told my story.
NWA: What next are we expecting from Tomi?
Tomi: I am currently working on my Debut Novel which I hope to publish this year by God’s Grace. So hopefully, the next time we have an interview I believe it should be on the Novel.
NWA: Our world today is buried beneath the debris of media exploration, how is your online presence and how often to you get online?
Tomi: Thankfully, the Internet has its pros and cons so I try to maximize the aspect that benefits me the most. I would say my presence could be quite strong depending on the situation but when I have to get work done like complete a story or script, I dissociate myself from the internet’s distractions. But if there is a football discussion, you can count on me to be online.
NWA: If someone walks up to you and says “I do not have any background in writing but I want to be a great writer” what advise will you give to the person?
Tomi: The first and most important thing is your will to do anything. And if you believe you want to write, the second thing is to actually write. You can only get better if you want to. It’s a conscious effort towards growth. Consistent writing and reading will further improve you. I believe this is a craft where we are all masters of the pen in our own way. Also, it is important to understand that you write for yourself and invariably, your audience and not for the validation of other writers. So, just write!
NWA: What is your philosophy of life?
Tomi: I don’t believe there is anything within your reach that’s unattainable but you have to put God first in any and everything. You have got to be focused, determined, courageous and believe in yourself because no one can do that for you.
NWA: Which of your platforms can people connect to you?
Tomi: I tweet @tomi_adesina
I do post pictures and some poetry on my Instagram page @tomiadesina
Facebook Page: http://facebook.com/moradeadesina
NWA: It’s been great having you, thank you so much for your time
Tomi: Thank you very much.