Mr. Saka Junior is author of over twenty-three books. A former journalist who worked for ‘The Tide’ newspaper way back in the 1990s, he talks about what led him to creative writing, why he finds fulfillment in not selling his work, the reason he discarded about a hundred manuscripts, and more.
Bookshelf: You don’t put your books out for sale. Why?
Saka Junior: Right from when I started writing, my number one love was for people to read my work. I believe that eventually, I may win an award or someone may make a movie out of it and I might make the money. However, I simply want to entertain people. I sometimes give out thirty copies to one person to give anyone who wishes to read. Once, someone was going for a book fair in Kaduna and I gave him some copies, including money to transport the books with the instruction to display them at the trade fair for people interested in taking them to read without paying. So, it has always been like that. There was a time somebody read my work and called me on the phone and asked for my account details. I said it wasn’t necessary, but he insisted. He said “I know what your book did to me.” He sent me two hundred and fifty thousand naira. That enabled me to publish my fourth work.
Bookshelf: What informs your writing style?
Junior: When I conceive a story, I first look at the best way of telling it. I write using four different styles and give it some months. I end up picking the one with the style that excites me and tell the story that way. I can plan a story for over ten years and by the grace of God I am able to keep stories in my memory. I have thought about a particular story for over sixteen years. At the end of the day, I looked for a style that suited all the angles, but my favourite is always writing in the first person because it makes the work very personal. It’s like a confession when you read it.
Bookshelf: How would you describe your collection of short stories, ‘Almost Naked’?
Junior: There are ten stories in the collection, all written in the first person narrative. They are all revealing stories and there’s none of them that is titled ‘Almost Naked’. They reveal the inner emotions of humans and the foolishness of our actions. That is why it’s titled ‘Almost naked’, meaning I almost revealed it, because when it comes to human beings you can’t achieve revelation totally. People may look at it as a physical type of nakedness, but that’s not what it is.
Bookshelf: What led you to write romance?
Junior: I started my working life as a journalist, where I wrote about politics, agriculture, transport, and so on. But at the end of the day, I discovered that those who actually read are those we don’t expect to read. They read more than those who claim to read. So I felt I should give them something to enjoy. I had a column back then called Love Spell. I discovered that people liked reading them and sent feedbacks. They asked for specific kinds of stories. When you write about politics it’s usually different because people would usually call to threaten you. I lost interest and decided to feed my eager readers. I am the kind of person that reads and writes anything. I have over twenty-two books, short stories, novels and collections of my opinion articles as a journalist.
Bookshelf: Which of your works would you describe as your most popular book?
Junior: That would be ‘The Depth of Jealousy’, about two classmates who met after a long time. One was successful and the other, a drifter.
Bookshelf: How did you start writing stories?
Junior: I started writing by drawing stories. I was brought up by my grandparents who told me a lot of stories. That was how I fell in love with stories. After they died, I got close to an uncle who told me stories from books he read. Once, after I read a book, I decided to write mine. That was how I wrote and completed what I concluded was a story. One day, that same uncle came and saw my story, which I was trying to hide. He explained a lot to me and after working some more we titled it ‘Dimples of Roses’. Eventually, it was published in the same newspaper I ended up working for, called ‘The Tide’ which started about 1974. I got very excited and that propelled me. I have written over a hundred books, but I don’t count them. At a point I discarded a lot of them and when I grew older and got to know a lot about writing, I threw away most of them.
Bookshelf: Why did you discard them?
Junior: Most of them were too aggressive. I was feeding on James Hardley Chase and Nick Carter and I tried to write like them. But when I came of age I realised Nigerians may not like that style of writing. I then started reading African Writers Series and Pacesetters and came to see what Nigerians wrote. I decided to go with how they wrote because we share the same socio-cultural background. I wrote ‘Outcry’, which I am re-typing right now.
(Culled from Daily Trust Newspaper)
My personal view about this touching story? Creativity and Selflessness to the core. What’s your view? Bring it on…