Alex, on the other hand, was from Lagos, Nigeria. He was swarthy in complexion with short, dark hair. His black, bushy brows curled slightly at the edges where they met, and few centimetres below sat deep black eyes which gave him a piercing look when he stared. His upper lip was slightly larger than the lower one and, coupled with a well-proportioned nose; it gave him a very gorgeous appearance. The wide outspread of his neck, and his broad shoulders, gave him a very mature look. He had that wide-slender kind of body that made a lot of people think he is slim until he was nearer them.
His nicely-muscled, athletic form came as a result of his years of hard labour. A lot of the time, he acted older than the nineteen-year-old boy that he was.
He didn't know much about his father. They were separated just before he was born. His mother used to be a nurse who ran a small health centre in the suburbs of Lagos. Because of the nation's poor economy, she didn't rake in much profit; just enough to sustain their family of five. There were those times, too, when nothing seemed to be working at all and they had to grind their teeth and edge their way through the dead periods. During those periods, Alex had offered himself to be employed as a labourer in the most laborious and gruesome jobs. Good jobs were gold and, hence, they were scarce. But the gruesome ones were always available and Alex was always welcome.
As fate would have it, things began to look up for them, and they had planned to move to a new home. Then the war broke, wiping out two-third of the country and leaving the rest desolate. All of the cities were wiped out. Many families were lost in the war and the few remaining survivors wandered from place to place seeking refuge. It was during that period that Alex lost his eldest sister, Mary. She had gone out to gather food when, unknown to her, a shootout broke. A stray bullet had hit her at the back of her head, killing her instantly. That tragedy had thrown his family into a trauma and, three years later, his mother was still trying to recover from the shock.
He groped and found the wall switch. The bathroom flooded with bright, gold light and at once the colours of the toothbrushes became discernible. He picked his brush from the lot and dropped the basket.
Then he moved towards the handwash basin and stared at his reflection in the mirror. He looked uncertain, and wasn't there a hint of fear in those eyes? He looked different from what he felt. Where was that feeling of courage that throbbed inside him? He studied his reflection in the mirror, and then looked down at his physical self. Why do his eyes look scared? His mind went back to the frightful dream he had. Was he really as empty and defenceless like he had felt? Hatred for self rose up inside him again.
Although subtle, his resistance had always been against the New Government. If the courage he had borne all these years was a feigned one, then he was vain and no better than the people out there who have been subdued enough to obey. He shut his eyes at the image of himself and still keeping them shut, he placed the toothbrush to his teeth and brushed. After a few minutes, he turned on the tap, rinsed his brush, and rinsed his mouth. Then stepping out of his pyjamas, he turned on the shower. He dipped his head into it and let the cold water run down his body. Then he grabbed a bar of soap from the soap holder.
The dining table was at the extreme end of the room, facing the door which led into the kitchen. Alex could see they were having bean cakes and puddings for breakfast. He sat on a chair.
“Mom is not eating?” He asked.
“She said 'later',” Abigail replied, drawing her chair closer to the table. The sound of the television set reached them distinctly.
Alex forked a bean cake, brought it close to his face and scrutinised it. It smelt good, just like bean cakes back home in Nigeria. But home-made bean cakes were not to be judged by their smell.
“It's good,” Abigail said quietly. “There wasn't enough ingredients but it's okay.”
With a feeling of guilt, Alex crammed the bean cake into his mouth.
“I'm sorry,” he said with his mouth full.
He didn't intend to make her feel bad but he hadn't known she was watching. And the bean cake did taste very good, Alex realised, angry with himself for his uncouth behaviour.
“The names of selected contestants for the 3rd Annual Fight Tournament have been
Alex and Abigail simultaneously turned their attention to the television set.
Q & A with King Samuel Benson
Dealing with it first has to begin with understanding what it really is.
Using a simple mathematical formula (I’ve never been a fan of math, though, but I like it when applies to things like this:
+Interest - Enthusiasm = Writer’s Block.
Writer’s block doesn’t happen when you’re out of inspiration; it happens when you’ve lost enthusiasm. Two things spur the writing process.
They are: Interest and Enthusiasm.
These are the two things that motivate you to write and encourage you to continue writing. Both of them need to be present for the writing process to continue, but of the two, enthusiasm is the most important. This is because even if you have all the interest in the world, you’ll never finish that book if there’s no more enthusiasm. You may be wondering, “What’s the difference?”
Let’s use a simple analogy:
Interest is the wood, and Enthusiasm is the fire.
Both need to be there to generate heat, but you know which is more important.
Let’s consider another analogy:
Interest is the blades of your fan, and Enthusiasm is the power current that causes them to turn.
Both need to be there to generate breeze, but you know which is more important.
Loss of enthusiasm mostly happens when you’ve been away from writing for too long. Most writers have never been able to deal with it because there are no sure paths to regaining your enthusiasm except by pushing yourself back into the actual writing process. It’s hard, but try. That’s what makes you different from others who claim to be writers.
Don’t wait for inspiration to come to you before you settle down to write again, or it will take you a lifetime to write a book. If you are a true writer, inspiration will always come
once you sit before your manuscript and write the first sentence.
It’s not easy to continue writing a book when you’ve lost the enthusiasm, especially if you’re like me who always has something else to do. But I can assure you that, once you
force yourself to go back to the writing process, enthusiasm will come flowing back to you again.
Just write the first one or two sentences. It doesn’t have to make sense, but write it anyway, and you’ll have started. One way to help you return to the writing process is to try to remember why you started out writing that book in the first place.
What advice would you give to a beginning writer?
Read a lot of books in different genres before you start writing your own. This will help you to understand dialogues, scenes and world-building well enough to be able to create and recreate any on your own. If you do not fully grasp these concepts of creation and recreation, you’ll always feel tempted to ‘borrow’ dialogues and descriptions from other authors’ books.
Write a lot. Begin with flash fictions and short stories. You could even try your hand at poetry if you fancy it. Once you’ve finished writing something that you’re happy with, read a book that is written more professionally. It may bring your morale down, but if you’re anything like me, it will drive your determination up.
I read the same books over and over again. I was doing this even before I became a published author. It was nothing really to me then; just something I had a tendency to do once I loved the book in question. Over time, I realized I could recite stretches of the pages of many books as if they were poetry. The words and their applications became embedded in my subconscious mind, and they were easily called up each time I was writing something in similar scenarios. Many a time, I have used strange words that sprung up in my head while writing before I had to check the dictionary to be sure their
meanings applied to what I was writing about. These things help.
So, all in all; read a lot, and write a lot. Don’t be afraid to show other people what you’ve written, and don’t give up writing if someone says or hints that you are a terrible writer. They’ve said it to me, too, as well as countless other authors out there.
How did you develop the plot for the story?
Truthfully, I didn’t develop a plot. I tried to. I really tried, but, after several attempts, I realized I was wasting my time. I first created a plot outline to help speedup the writing process, but, as I progressed, the story kept diverting from what I had in the outline. I changed the outline to the newer arrangement, but the story continued to change with each new chapter. So I gave up the outline and allowed the story to write itself.
When I started writing Blood Tournament, all I had was the idea to begin with. I didn’t have an idea of an ending. I didn’t even know what the next chapter would look
like. But always, at the end of a chapter, the next chapter suddenly seems to materialize in my mind.
How do you create your characters?
By first having a clear sense of their physical features, their backgrounds, and their attitudes. Once you understand these, you can put your characters in any scene or situation and easily know how they’ll react.
Have you ever made a character and then decided not to use them, if so then
Yes, I have. It’s mostly because I no longer need them. Sometimes, unnecessary characters can cause a good book to become stale.
Do you use real life situations and put them into your stories?
Quite a lot! Many of my protagonists are, in some instances, a reflection of my true self. Their experiences are made up partly of my own experiences and partly of my imagination.
Some of the other characters in my stories are shadows of real people I used to know, while some are made up purely by my imagination… of things I wish for but know that I may never have. Because I cannot live in all the lives I fancy, I create them in my stories and live them there.
So, yes, majority of my stories are coined from real life situations. I believe it’s the same with other authors out there. Never forget: In every beam of fiction, there’s always a ray of truth. Never forget.