TOLULOPE POPOOLA-MAKING HER DREAM COME TRUE

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Six friends...A Man...His Wife...His Mistress...A Mystery Guy...A Man with aIn My Dreams It was Simpler, they went a step further and turned the series into a book  which was published early this year.

Shady Past.1n 2009, Tolulope and a group of bloggers started an online series titled,

Tolulope Popoola known in the blog world as FavouredGirl in 2008 quit her job as an accountant to become a full time writer. Even though the road has not been easy, it is a career decision she does not regret.




AG: Can we meet you (background, transition between growing up and becoming a writer)?
TP: My name is Tolulope Popoola, I’m a writer and blogger. I grew up in Lagos, Nigeria but came to study in the UK in 2000. After my first degree and Masters, I started working as an accountant, but I soon realised I was not cut out for a lifetime career in accounting and I gave it up in 2008. I have always enjoyed writing as a hobby and in school - I have memories of scribbling made-up stories when I was in primary school; growing up I always kept a journal, and writing was my therapy when I was going through the angst-filled teenage years. I had started blogging in 2006 and it rekindled my love for writing which I had buried for a while. I’m a bookworm and I think it’s thanks to my dad who instilled the love of reading in me from a very young age.

AG: Can you give us an insight on the birth of the blog series, “In My Dreams It Was Simpler”?
TP: The series grew out of a story I wrote in 2008. It all started when I came across a wedding album on Facebook one day and I thought the groom looked like a cousin of mine who was already married to someone else. This gave me an idea and a few days later, I wrote a short story titled My Dilemma. I put it on my short story blog and also pasted it as a note on Facebook. I got good feedback from people who read it, and lots of people asked for a Part 2 to the story. Initially I didn’t think about it until someone left a comment saying that the story could be turned into a series. That caught my attention and it sounded like a neat idea, so I decided to expand the plot and the characters to see what I could do with them. Then I invited some bloggers and asked if they were interested in writing a group story. Thankfully, they agreed to come on board and the series began on our blog, which we updated every Friday. The other writers are: Latifat Ayoola, Tade Thompson, Ayodele Alofe, Diamond Hawk, Jaycee, Rayo, Flourishing Florida and Writefreak. Each of us writes from a different character’s point of view.

AG: How did you come up with Lola’s voice and what did you hope to achieve with her character?
TP: Lola is the troublemaker among the group of friends. She’s feisty and blunt, but she has a vulnerable side too. I have a few friends like Lola, so it was easy to create a character with those attributes. I want people to be able to relate to Lola as a person. She has her flaws, but she knows what she wants and she stands for what she believes in. She often sees things in black and white, and she is not afraid to speak her mind or take risks.

AG: How much of your audience influenced your growth and development as a writer?
TP: Previously I used to worry about the audience when I’m writing, but I find that it’s really stifling. Now, I don’t consciously think of my audience when I’m writing. I think a good story would appeal to anyone.

AG: Aside’s from Lola, who is your favourite character and why?
TP: I feel like I’m closest to Lola because I enjoy writing about her so much. If I had to another favourite character; I would go with Funmi. I can be quite bossy and act like a mother hen sometimes. But with good intentions, of course.

AG: How long did it take to compile the series and who edited the book?
TP: The first season in the series started on the blog, and it ran for eight months. Afterwards we took a short break to compile the posts into a book, which we edited jointly. Compiling and editing the book didn’t take too long because we already had the posts to work with.

AG: How would you describe your style of writing and what shapes this style of yours?
TP: I like having some kind of outline in my mind for the characters and the plot of a story before I begin. I sometimes brainstorm for days and weeks before I actually sit down to put an idea down in written form. I find that having a structure helps me so that I don’t get stuck or run out of steam halfway into a story. Having said that, sometimes I ignore the structure and I let the story flow freestyle, which can also yield surprising results.

AG: What book/author most influence your life and why?
TP: I have so many writers who have influenced my life, going back to Louisa May Alcott, Mabel Segun, Enid Blyton, Buchi Emecheta and more recently, Rose Tremain, Sadie Jones, Sefi Atta and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I’ve learnt different things from each of them. In particular, I am very grateful for the friendship and support of Abidemi Sanusi (author of Kemi’s Journal). She’s taken me under her wing since I began my writing journey. She has and continues to be a source of inspiration, encouragement and motivation.

AG: Would you say leaving the world of accounting to become a full time writer is your best career move ever?
TP: I left my accounting job in 2008 because I realised that I would be miserable if I remained in that career path for the rest of my life. I started getting bored with my job, my long commute and the stress of the 9 to 5 routine in 2007, and I started thinking about what job I could do that will bring me fulfilment. By then I had started writing again, and the more I thought about it, the more I realised that I will always be happy when I am writing. From then on, it was only a matter of time before I left accounting. I don’t regret my decision at all; because I am now doing something I’m excited and passionate about. It hasn’t always been easy though. I’ve had to make some financial sacrifices and let go of a regular income but I’m happy to be doing something really fulfilling.

AG: What do you see as a mark of a really good book?
TP: A good book should be an experience that takes me away from my present space and time, into another world. It should inform, inspire, entertain and educate me with intriguing characters and an unpredictable plot. One should feel enriched and empowered after reading a good book.

AG: Three facts we never knew about you?
TP:  Loyal, indecisive and I get bored easily.

AG: If you had a book club, what would it be reading and why?
TP: We would be reading “The Outcast” by Sadie Jones. I recently finished reading it and the story and characters are so multi-layered that it would take a long time to fully dissect everything in it.

AG: Should we expect the sequel of the book any time soon?
TP: We are working on Season 2 of the series at the moment, and those weekly blog posts will form the basis for the second book. We hope to have the book ready by the end of this year.

AG: What are your writing aspirations?
TP: I’m only at the beginning of my writing career so I will definitely continue writing and publishing books in future. There is a sequel to the first book in the series, which will be released by the end of the year. I’m also working on another novel, and a collection of short stories. Sometime soon, I would like to go back to university to pursue a degree in Creative Writing or Literature, and I want to learn a new language. Long term, I would like to create opportunities for other aspiring writers to develop their voice, improve their craft and market their work.

AG: Is it important for authors to be on the web, any downsides?
TP: In this day and age when the majority of searches and news sharing information is done online, every serious author should have a presence on the web. The potential of the internet to help you reach a much wider audience cannot be overemphasized. I have been introduced to so many new writers online that I would never have heard of anywhere else. Social networking is an essential tool in getting your work and your name to your audience. Aspiring writers can join online writing forums, submit their work to online magazines, and take part in writing competitions and so on. The possibilities are endless.

AG: What is the best writing advice you ever received and who was it from?
TP: I’ll like to repeat a quote by Iain Banks because that’s the whole truth. He said – “Writing is like everything else: the more you do it the better you get”.

AG: Any writing tips, you would like to share?
TP: Keep reading and writing. Read great books by other writers, and practice writing everyday. There is no better way to improve your craft. Be resilient in doing it, even when you get discouraging comments, pick yourself up and continue to improve. Keep a notepad with you at all times, so that you can jot down any ideas that come to you wherever you are.

Tolulope's Personal Blog: Favoured Girl's Blog 
To read season 2 of the Series and more information : In My Dreams It Was Simpler

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5 comments

  1. Love Tolu, she is a good writer, been following her blog for a while.

    Esther

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  2. I like the last part on writing tips. Really good interview.

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  3. This is an inspiration to all would be writers. You should post this in other sites.

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  4. **Let me start claiming good peeps**
    Thats my Gurl(FavouredGirl).....Doing Big things

    To all the entrepreneurs in the house.....Whosa! I love yall...Keep doing what u do best.
    Women taking Over..One love.

    Regards
    Seun B

    ReplyDelete