‘Too Much Trouble’ had the honour of winning the Frances Lincoln Diverse Voices Book Award. It shared the short-list with several great stories and I had the privilege of meeting them all of the writers at the award ceremony. But who are these writers? Over the next few weeks I will be interviewing all three.
Today I am joined my Remi Oyedele whose manuscipt, Goal Dreams was highly commended. Remi is a CPA, who after years of professional Audit and Finance, is taking time to indulge her childhood passion. She currently lives in Southampton and is completing the MA Writing for Children programme at the University of Winchester. Goal Dreams is her first novel.
Goal Dreams is a coming-of-age story about Ade Coker, a 12-year-old aspiring footballer from south-west Nigeria. Ade’s pursuit of football glory sets in motion events that see him acquiring a new family, suffering from exploitation and travelling across the globe before discovering that dreams can be realised in various forms.
T.A. – Goal Dreams is set in south-west Nigeria, is this a part of the world that you know well?
R.O. – Yes, I am from Oyo State in Nigeria, and have fond memories of family holidays spent there – especially Easter and Christmas.
T.A. – When did you start writing Goal Dreams and what helped you?
R.O. – I am currently wrapping up the MA Writing for Children programme at the University of Winchester. Goal Dreams started out as a short story module assignment for one of the courses I took last term. Although feedback from my professors indicated that the plot could easily be expanded into a novel, I initially procrastinated – even after I found out about the Frances Lincoln Diversity Award. Then I saw a blog post written by a professor teaching a course I took this term; she once taught a novel writing course where students were required to write 16,000 words per week! I took one look at that and said to myself, ‘well are you a writer or not?’ That spurred me on to write the novel and work towards the contest deadline.
T.A. – How did you come to focus on the issue of exploitation within the world of football?
R.O. – While doing some research for the module assignment, I came across a press release from Arsenal warning the public about a scam in which rogue scouts were promising access to the club in return for money. I incorporated this into the story, and one of my professors highlighted the relevance of the theme. As a result, I honed in on the issue when I expanded the novel.
T.A. – Had you entered any other competitions before d.v.? Any that you would recommend?
R.O. – Yes, I entered the 2010 WordHustlerInk Literary Storm Novel contest and received an honourable mention for Goal Dreams. I’m also thinking about the Chicken House Children’s Fiction competition.
T.A. – Who do you usually write for and why do you write?
R.O. – I tend to write for the intermediate age group of 9 – 12 year olds. However, over the course of my MA, I have discovered an interest in stories for the younger audience of 6 – 8 year olds.
I have always been an avid reader, and I suppose that triggered something inside me to create stories that will provide thrill and pleasure to other readers as well. I favour children’s books with their boundless imagination and propensity for adventure, so at heart, I’m probably still a child who enjoys her play in the form of reading and writing.
T.A. – What did you enjoy reading as a child and what do you enjoy reading now?
R.O. – As a child, I was completely enthralled by Enid Blyton and her mass of titles (I’m still awestruck by how she churned them out!) In particular, I loved The Naughtiest Girl in the School and The Magic Faraway Tree. As an adult, I still enjoy children’s books in all their variety – fantasy, adventure, historical. A couple of titles that have stood out for me in the past year are Holes and I, Coriander.
T.A. – Do you have any favourite authors?
R.O. – I really admire C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien.
T.A. – What would you say to someone considering entering next years Diverse Voices competition?
R.O. – I’d say go for it! And if at first you don’t succeed, then try and try again. The most important thing is to keep writing. Not everyone will appreciate what you have to offer, but when you come across someone that does, it is so worth it!
Look out for great things from Remi soon.