Today, I have an interview with the wonderful Nike Campbell-Fatoki, a writer whose book, Thread of Gold Beads, I recently reviewed HERE. I really enjoy how she is taking literature, culture, and story telling themes from African history and spinning new novels. She is a joy to have on the site, enjoy the interview!
Hi, Nike! Welcome to Oh, for the Hook of a Book! Happy to have you here to discuss your book, Thread of Gold Beads and to allow us to get to know you better! How has the launch of the book been going for you this year?
Nike: It’s been going great. I’ve had a lot of positive feedback from readers to date.
Erin: Good news! Let’s have a seat and start the conversation, I’m looking forward to learning more.
Q: Your family and family history is important to you, I see. I know that your book is based on the stories that were passed down to you. Can you elaborate more on how they inspired you to write Thread of Gold Beads?
A: My family loves to tell stories, particularly my grandparents. I would sit for hours listening to them tell stories about where and how they grew up, their families and challenges. My grandmother’s story about her grandmother’s flight from war-torn Dahomey was one of the many stories that stayed with me even after she passed away. I was inspired by her will to survive. It inspired me personally because it proved that anyone of us can overcome challenges, no matter how difficult they are. The events that occurred in the heroine’s (Amelia) life are a mixture of true events and fiction.
Q: I understand that due to the war in 1890, your family living in present day Benin had to flee to western Nigeria, just as the Princess in your book did. Was Amelia a fictional character that you created to tell the story or was she based on a real princess?
A: It was my grandmother’s grandmother that fled from the kingdom in the 1890s. However, princess Amelia is a fictional character. Having conducted research about the Kingdom of Dahomey (present day Republic of Benin), I imagined what that must have been like for both the citizens and the royal family as they readied themselves for war, the role of children, women and men and the ordeal they must have gone through and especially how they must have survived that period. I imagined how it must have been for my great (great) grandmother to have to leave her home and family to save her life. How it must have felt starting afresh in a new country without knowing anyone and how she survived it. I put myself in these various situations and wrote from there.
Q: What was your main purpose in writing your book? Did you feel motivated to write it to preserve some history in some way? Do you hope that it might be used in schools?
A: I have several purposes for this book and in response to your questions – yes, I want to preserve history and a way of doing that is by writing. I feel we are losing history worldwide. We seem to be looking more to the future – getting the latest gadget, hearing the latest news per second, just wanting everything this instant. The fear is that in looking towards the future, we lose the lessons we can learn from the past. We must preserve history. Thread of Gold Beads is my attempt to preserve some of this history.
Secondly, I want this story and history to be spread widely. A way of doing that is to introduce it to the schools. Growing up, I was introduced to several literary works in school. I still remember the stories and the impact they still have on me. I think a big part of that is when you introduce things to people at a young age, they are able to remember and the impact is more profound. Their minds are still fresh, they are eager to explore and learn. My hope is that Thread of Gold Beads will be like one of those literary works that people will say in years to come “Remember Thread of Gold Beads…” and that it will be one of the books that can still be found in the libraries and in schools worldwide.
Q: What do you feel are the main themes in your book?
A: Feminism and the role of women, colonization, war and displacement, faith and religion, and of course love and betrayal.
Q: There is a current within your book that deals with faith in Africa, at the time. How do you feel that you were able to convey religion? Why did you think to include this into your book?
A: I hope I was able to convey it well. Religion is ingrained into our society as it has been since the beginning of time. It was a major theme in Thread of Gold Beads, a common thread throughout the whole book. It was important to include it because it was a way of life in that era. Religion is as important as the air we breathe.
Q: You wrote your book and then set it aside due to life. How did it feel to finally get it published? What will you write next?
A: A feeling like I’ve just accomplished a pre-ordained assignment. I feel fulfilled. However, the journey continues. I write for a dual purpose – because I enjoy it and because I believe that through my writing, I can bring attention to issues that need to be addressed. That’s where my upcoming writing project comes in. I am working on a compilation of short stories which delve into the social issues we currently face today.
Q: You have a very busy job and are a mother of three. How do you find the time to write? Are you an outline type of author or do you write free-form?
A: Yes I am, and I must say, being a mother is still the most important, the most demanding and rewarding. I’m more of an outline type. Now, I can’t promise that I stay within the outlines. It’s like a light bulb switches on suddenly and I realize, there’s a better way to convey that, hence, the deviation from the outline. For the most part, I have a map to where I’m going.
Q: What authors do you like to read? What authors do you admire? What genre is your favorite?
A: I enjoy reading from a plethora of authors. I am drawn to African authors because they come from a similar place with similar backgrounds. I still enjoy historical fiction novels best. I mix it up with contemporary African literature.
Q: Have you considered writing about other times and places? What about choosing a person to write a book around?
A: Yes, I have. I have another historical I will be working on down the pipeline. I have never actually thought about writing about a person though.
Q: I read that you are interested in social issues. Do you ever hope to publish works based on this topic? What kind of social issues would you write about?
A: Yes, I am, very much so. I am working on a compilation of short stories with this theme like I mentioned. Writers are in a key position to act as instruments of change. We must speak about these issues through our writing. The social issues are numerous and not limited to domestic and sexual abuse, drug addiction, corruption, racism and tribalism.
Q: You have a career that is not necessarily a “creative” line of work, in general regards. Would you ever like to become a full-time writer?
A: (Laughs) I would have said yes, except I have another line of work (separate from my 9- 5, that I think is creative too because I am moving limited resources around to achieve the greatest impact) which is equally as creative. I design home décor accessories for Eclectic Goodies, a business I started about two years ago. It started out as a personalized party favors and gifts packaging company. I branched out into the home décor because I wanted to see more African-inspired accessory pieces in the stores but couldn’t find them, and if I could, they were set at ridiculous prices. I wanted pieces that were African and still contemporary rolled into one. So, I see myself juggling my writing and home décor interior design for the foreseeable future.
Q: Where can readers connect with you?
A: By email – email@example.com, on twitter – https://twitter.com/nikecfatoki on facebook: www.facebook.com/nikecfatoki, Website: www.nikecfatoki.com, follow my blog at www.nikecampbellfatoki.blogspot.com
Erin: Thank you so much for your lovely dialogue today. It was a pleasure for me and I do wish you the very best in the future with all your work!!
Nike: It was my pleasure. Thanks for having me!
THREAD OF GOLD BEADS, Synopsis~
Amelia, daughter of the last independent King of Danhomè, King Gbèhanzin, is the apple of her father’s eye, loved beyond measure by her mother, and overprotected by her siblings. She searches for her place within the palace amidst conspirators and traitors to the Kingdom. Just when Amelia begins to feel at home in her role as a Princess, a well-kept secret shatters the perfect life she knows. Someone else within the palace also knows and does everything to bring the secret to light. A struggle between good and evil ensues causing Amelia to leave all that she knows and loves. She must flee Danhomè with her brother, to south-western Nigeria. In a faraway land, she finds the love of a new family and God. The well-kept secret thought to have been dead and buried, resurrects with the flash of a thread of gold beads. Amelia must fight for her life and what is left of her soul.
Set during the French-Danhomè war of the late 1890s in Benin Republic and early 1900s in Abeokuta and Lagos, South-Western Nigeria, Thread of Gold Beads is a delicate love story, and coming of age of a young girl. It clearly depicts the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversities.
Praise for THREAD OF GOLD BEADS
“A highly competent contribution to the growing genre of popular historical fiction in Africa” – Sefi Atta, author of A Bit of A Difference, Swallow, Everything Good Will Come. Winner of Wole Soyinka Prize for Literature in Africa
“At the heart of Thread of Gold Beads stands Princess Amelia, an intelligent, courageous young woman who loses everything when the 1892 French invasion of Dahomey forces her to seek refuge in South-Western Nigeria. Following a series of unexpected twists, Amelia’s journey mirrors that of her Nigerian-born mother as secrets and betrayals threaten her hard-fought peace of mind. Through a cast of distinct characters, Campbell-Fatoki presents an intriguing coming of age story that captures the majesty of a 19th century African kingdom.”-Yejide Kilanko, author of Daughters Who Walk This Path
Author Nike Campbell-Fatoki~
Nike Campbell-Fatoki was born in Lvov, Ukraine to Nigerian parents. She spent her formative years in Lagos, Nigeria, listening to stories and folktales told by her maternal Grandparents. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics from Howard University and a Master of Arts degree in International Development from American University, Washington, DC. Presently, she is a Budget and Finance Manager in the municipal government in the Washington DC area. She is an avid reader. She loves traveling, watching movies and listening to music. She is also the Founder of Eclectic Goodies, a party favors and gifts packaging company. She lives in the Washington DC area with her husband and three sons.
Author Website: www.nikecfatoki.com
Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Thread-Gold-Beads-Nike-Campbell-Fatoki/dp/0988193205/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1375617256&sr=8-1&keywords=thread+of+gold+beads
Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Thread-Gold-Beads-Nike-Campbell-Fatoki/dp/0988193205/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1353952597&sr=8-1
Link to Tour Schedule: http://hfvirtualbooktours.com/threadofgoldbeadstour
Twitter Hashtag: #GoldBeadsTour