Twisted / Frozen / Nightfall
About Kennedy -
Dr. Kennedy O. Obohwemu is a medical graduate of Delta State University, Abraka. He hails from Oteri in Ughelli North Local Government Area of Delta State, Nigeria.
He attended Government College, Victoria Island (GOCOVI), Lagos where he served as Senior Prefect. He effectively utilised this position to win laurels for the school, participating in and winning various Quiz Competitions, Essay Competitions & Inter-School Debates.
Kennedy is a much travelled personage. He has visited virtually every medical school in the country, exchanging vision and ideas. In 2006 he was among 18 delegates that represented Nigeria in the National Convention hosted by Federation of Ghana Catholic Health Trainees, University of Ghana Medical School, Accra. He repeated that feat in 2009, leading 24 delegates to another edition of the Conference.
He was the National President of the Federation of Catholic Medical and Dental Students (FECAMDS) in his undergraduate days. He was also the Founder and National President of the Association of Nigerian Student Authors (ANSA).
An avid reader, Kennedy enjoys stories of love, adventure, mystery and suspense. He is also a playwright and revolutionary poet.
He plays football and loves music.
He has his beloved mother to thank for the inspiration to write.
Interview: Kennedy Obohwemu
Opening your novel, you give a short background of Nigeria’s more recent pop culture history. Can you explain how this creates a sense of relevance for readers?
Nigeria is a country with rich cultural heritage. There are over 520 languages and over 250 dialects and ethnic groups. My novel portrays that uniqueness. It was my intention to let readers know the origins of the major characters. The opening pages give readers a taste of what is to come.
In your Prologue, you explain that Nigerian writers have “a longing to make a difference in their immediate environment and beyond.” This statement sounds quite close to Chinua Achebe’s purposefulness in writing Things Fall Apart. Could you share the “difference” your novel attempts to make with readers? Is your purpose much the same as Achebe’s, a work that exposes the cultural significance of Nigeria through storytelling?
It is every writer’s dream to carve his name indelibly upon imperishable marbles. Like Chinua Achebe, Nigerian writers have an unshakable resolve to leave a lasting impression. It’s up to the writer to harness the resources at his disposal. Writers share the same basic characteristics. But our styles may differ. Mine is a delicate blend of poetry and prose. I believe in the power of expression which poetry affords every soul. Poetry adds fluidity to prose. When you read my novel Twisted, you’ll see poetry in motion.
You are a trained medical doctor with many accolades. What made you want to write fiction? Are there other forms of writing you are also interested in, such as medical research?
I don’t want to see myself as a doctor who happens to be a writer. I started writing long before graduation from medical school. Writing is like a sport to me, and I love the game to no end. My writing skills will prove invaluable in my medical career, because I love medical research. I see myself doing a lot of that!
African literature as a whole seems to possess a certain uniqueness in its organization of ideas and its execution of how a plot rises and falls; your novel showcases this ability as well. Does this pattern of development in writing stem from oral stories or does the patterning come through traditional education?
Every writer is unique in his own way. I like to see writing as a gift. It’s a passion that you cannot repress. How you express it ultimately depends on you. You may want to attribute a particular pattern of development in African stories. This may be partly due to our common battles. There are numerous internal challenges, and most dreams are never realized. The only way we can turn our defeats into victories, our fears into strengths, our shame into pride, are through our stories.
Mofe, the distinguished writer in your novel, was raised in Los Angeles. Why did you choose to develop this character as someone born and educated outside of Nigeria?
The 2003 research (that Nigerians are “the happiest people in the world”) was crucial. Reports were conflicting. Two separate international studies were in favour of the notion, and two other were against the notion. Are Nigerians the happiest people in the world? Are we the saddest? I tried to incorporate this debate in my novel, using real life experiences. To express a candid, unbiased opinion, I needed a “foreign presence.” Mofe lived all his life abroad. He was the “foreigner” who came into the scene to “find out things” for himself.
There is a significant line in Chapter One of your book: “One can resist the invasion of armies, but not the invasion of ideas.” Could you elaborate on this quote and share a few of the ways in which this line develops multiple meanings for readers?
Plato did say, “Ideas rule the world.” Thoughts and ideas can make or mar an individual’s development. They influence every aspect of our lives. In the history of human civilization we find ample examples of the above theorization. The equality of race and gender was the dream and message of the great Malcolm X. Rousseau’s words, “Man is born free, but everywhere he is in chains,” prompted the French Revolution. It was Abraham Lincoln’s idea of freedom that abolished slavery. It was Karl Marx’s idea of equality that formed the basis of communism. It was the idea of “making a difference” in the world of literature that prompted me to write this phenomenal novel.
Your authorial bio mentions that your mother inspired you to write. This seems to link to Mofe’s feelings for his own mother. Is there a link that developed through your childhood, as Mofe’s has, or did your mother inspire you in another way?
My mother is the single most important individual in my life. I owe her everything! Without mincing words, Mofe’s feelings for his mother is a reflection of the fondness I have for my own mother.
Foxy, Tola, and Mofe’s mother present quite different Nigerian women. How do these characters portray the different types of Nigerian women today?
The typical Nigerian woman is an embodiment of hard work, dedication and loyalty. Foxy, Tola and Stella (Mofe’s mother) had all three qualities. Foxy was also an adventurous woman. She dared to dream, and she stopped at nothing to achieve those dreams. But she cut corners along the way. Tola was a bunch of natural talent. Things fell into place quite easily for her. Amidst serious temptations that came with stardom, she kept her head while others lost theirs. She exercised a lot of self-discipline, a rare quality for someone who was a major player in the highly sexualized world of fashion photography. Stella (Mofe’s mother) was hard work personified. She was largely responsible for her son’s rise to glory. She tried not to compromise her own standards. She was a disciplinarian, but she was also a very loving mother.
Iyke and Mofe and Foxy and Tola present sharply contrasted personalities. Of these characters, which voice(s) are closest to your own? Which character do you most relate?
I am a rather reserved person by nature. So I guess Mofe’s cool head and Tola’s gentle demeanour suit my personality well. But don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a saint. If you push me to the wall, I will react!
Twisted moved beyond Nigeria and into, at least partially, the current discussions housed around films as literature. Can you explain your take on this proposition? Does film have literary merit that is as significant as traditional text-based literature?
Works of literature have been adapted for film from the dawn of the industry. King John, the first known film to be based on the works of Shakespeare, was released as early as 1899. It appeals because it obviously works as a story; the characters in the film do and say interesting things. But literary merit is a different ballgame altogether. Original stories tend to be refined to make them more appealing for television. More often than not, the screenplay does not retain the same craftsmanship as the original text. There are some films that offer surprising themes of literary merit. Such films are completely plot-driven and are very entertaining. Creative prose, depth of thought, richness of language, and the ability to make connections to other works through allusion, metaphor, simile, and other literary terms are some of the many ways literature builds richness. By depth of thought, there should be attention to detail, theme, multiple defined symbols, etc. I think Harry Potter fits the bill, as do Lord of the Rings and Star Wars.
How do the differences between literature and film function in Twisted, say between Mofe and Foxy?
Literature and film are special forms of art. They offer a whole new different kind of voyeurism where only the eyes and the mind can travel and unravel. Every page from the book or every scene from the film offers a whole new world that appeal to a person’s most inner desires. I don't say that one is superior to the other, but literature certainly is different in its aesthetic and psychological effects. Mofe did receive several offers from Hollywood studios to make movie versions of his bestselling books. Adaptations are good, but they are by no means acceptable substitutes for the works adapted. Viewers of the film who don't become readers of the novel may not really know what it's all about. Foxy had a background in film study, but it was evident that she didn’t read a lot of novels. If we could strike a delicate balance between the two, the world would be a happier place!
Do you plan to write another novel soon? Do you, perchance, already have one in progress? If so, will it be a sequel to Twisted?
Response: Writing is my passion. I can never stop writing. I have several other literary works, but I wanted Twisted to be the first out of the bag. It’s a stand-alone novel; but the way the industry is, you never can tell how it goes.
Be sure to visit Kennedy's web site @ www.TheNovelTwisted.com
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