Book readings are opportunities for book lovers to have more information about the authors and the books being read. Also, it is an occasion for art critics to learn more as the author narrates his/her experience while writing.
The seventh edition of the monthly Booktrek organised by Committee of Relevant Arts (CORA) at Quintessence, Ikoyi, Lagos ,brought more revelations during the public discourse, as Chioma M. Okonkwo read from her latest book, Like Never Before, to guests and friends.
Jahman Anikulapo, a member of CORA, recalled that during the first edition of the monthly Booktrek at Quintessense, a publisher, who was in attendance, debunked the belief that Nigerians don’t read but told the gathering that she was able to sell more than 10,000 copies of a particular book as against some situations where authors found it difficult to sell 1000 copies. He affirmed that big things were happening now and people were still reading.
Anikulapo recalled that the monthly Booktrek actually started in secondary schools when former Lagos State Chapter of Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA, AJ Daga Tola, and others, went to Egbeda, Ajegunle, and other places to read books to students.
Sola Alamutu introduced the author to the audience, saying people had come to support the writer who, like herself, had transversed the world. She said Okonkwo had travelled to countries like Morocco, Ghana and Dubai, and some of her stories were inspired through her travels.
The author revealed Like Never Before was her second work of fiction. The first one was a short story entitled Finding Love where a crime occurred and the police were involved and it later became a romantic suspense cum thriller.
She informed that she wanted to write a book that related to Nigeria by using Nigerian characters. She took her time to write the plot, structure and the characters together. There is a deal in the book but there is no crime, so, she eventually wrote a book on romance.
Okonkwo described Like Never Before as a short paced romance telling the story of of a character who travelled to France for the first time. “She meets a British actor and has an awkward meeting. They seem to know each other better after having an affair, a summer romance, and, after the summer, one of them wants to carry on with the relationship, but the other person doesn’t seem to be interested. Later, fate brings them together and sets them apart at the same time, which makes the book filled with suspense,” she narrated.
She reiterates that most of the books that she has written are suspense filled thrillers, action or fast paced because anytime she writes about crime, what actually keeps the story going are the suspects. The friends in her books are always different and the suspects are different and that is what pushes the story. All the crime stories that she has written are intriguing in their own ways.
Another work of hers, 21 Days, she said was also work of romance, though she had written two fiction books as well. Her goal of writing was geared towards writing for diverse audience at home with romance, erotica, realistic fiction, etcetera.
The young author added she had written a story about a baby’s life right from the womb to the world, writing from the baby’s point of view, including everything he/she hears and sees before the child is given birth and his/her internalised discussion in heaven before he/she is given birth.
Her reason for putting so much details in the book was because she met a secondary student during a reading who told her that when she read Chimamanda Adiche’s Americanah, the book made her travel to America without going there in reality.
The author went on to write the book with students, among others, in mind. “When you read books, it takes you to places, so I had to put all these into consideration while writing her books,” she said.
When she was young, the author hardly slept, which made her stay awake most times, hence, she decided to use the energy to write. Fortunately for her, in that year, she wrote five books. She still has a lot of books yet to be published. As the ideas keep coming, she writes to share her ideas with people.