Bashir Kabir, author of the hit novel, Enemy Circles, gave us insights on how to write bestselling novels.
Please may we meet you?
My names are Bashir Kabir Rabiu but I more often dropped the last name particularly for pen name sake. I was born, raised, studied, married and unsurprisingly base here in Kano State, Nigeria. I’m a physicist if you will ask my credentials who I am, but I am a lot more than that. I am a painter, a cook, a dressmaker, a farmer, and more important of them all, a father of two lovely girls and a husband to an even lovelier strong woman. I’m always aspiring to conquer new boundaries and learn new skills.
Why do you write?
I actually don’t know why I want to write. I have been a reader for a long time. Long before I could even read, I can remember how my father wrote us stories on a small blackboard in my house with the intention of teaching us how to write mostly. I and my sibling, right from the beginning, were exposed to exposition and more than few of us developed the liking for writing stories. At the beginning, we drew and paint our stories in picture rather than in words, but as we grew older, we developed the interest of verbal narrations.
Back then, we drew our characters from relatives, particularly our grandparents and their siblings whom by virtue of the Hausa/Fulani culture could be the butt of our jokes. Also, some relatives we don’t really like, we usually put them difficult situations in our fictions. It was fun and the genesis of my interest of writing was borne from then on.
What’s your writing genre?
History, fantasy and everything in between. What’s important however, is I want whatever I write to carry enough elements of humor. That’s my ultimate writing goal now.
What inspires your writing?
I wanted to write a short story for a news magazine (National Review) I was working with. But it felt so good I could not stop that I ended up writing more than 50,000 words. Then I abandoned it. Later, a friend introduced me to a writing contest website. It promised $10,000 for the winner and that got me inspired once again (naturally). I didn’t win the prize but I ended up writing more than three novel-sized stories, one of which, Enemy Circles, was recently published online by Memorila.com.
Where have your works been published? And how many contests have you won lately?
Only on Memorila.com and I’ve never won any contest. That’s probably because I’ve never gotten into many. I was discouraged from entering into contests because most of the times I got disheartened when it is categorically stated that it’s only for natives. Maybe I was looking at the wrong places since I’ve never tried any Nigerian or African based context.
What inspired your first published work?
I have said that already. First, it was to write a short story for a news magazine I worked for, and which ended up being not quite short. And second, to win $10,000 prize.
Describe your writing style in one word?
I wish I could say humorous, but I don’t know if I’m funny enough yet.
What writing styles are easy for you to pull off?
Aside from being a writer what other career would you settle for?
If you were to pick any writer from among your Facebook friends or writing groups whose works inspire you the most, who would it be?
I’m in this funny fiction writers’ group and we have been swapping parts of our works for feedbacks. I must say I’ve read lots of interesting pieces that made me wish the writer would complete the story so I could read it complete. But there is this particular book I’m currently reading titled “Part-timer” written by one Carter Bowman. While I’m not specifically into western-styled writings, I must say that’s where my reading pool mostly lies though. I still believe a fresh African voice in writing is unique and has potentials.
What has been the best part of your writing journey?
It was that review of my published book by a reader. There is nothing fulfilling compared to when someone read your book and honestly said it’s great; and most particularly when a reader goes to the length of reviewing it. It made me feel I did well and that I could do better. It really encourages me that I can do this.
What do you think is the best way for writers of this time to make money?
I would love to make money from my writings. Who wouldn’t? But I really don’t know any other way else besides writing a great book and taking it to where it matters. Many companies around the globe are in constant search of great works and we still haven’t reach that time when the supply is even sufficient. It is still gold if one would write a great book. I will use this opportunity to commend Memorila as pioneers in that regard here in Nigeria. There could be more of its kind that I don’t know of, but initiative like this is the future for literary writing in Nigeria.
In five years time, what do you think would become of Nigerian writers and the demand for their works?
New writers are coming up in the country but it will be hard for me to predict what would be the readership level of Nigerians in the next five years without slightly overlooking some important aspects of it. What I can say though is not just in Nigeria or Africa; I have noticed a great demand for African writings by indigenous African authors in the world. It could be a fresh perspective, a differentiated angle to view African history, culture and thinking pattern. So, I can say with conviction that the Nigerian writer’s work will be in demand worldwide in some years to come.
If you were to be in a gathering where you are to address first-time writers/ authors who want to profit from their writings, what would you say to them?
I would tell them to put the work at heart first; to develop the passion and actually enjoy it; to learn the pros and cons of it, to be patient and persevere. The benefits that come from writing cannot be pegged to a specific time and situation. It will sooner or later come to that time when it will pay. The literary world today is not what it was maybe a hundred years ago. Readers know what they want and more so the editors. As a new writer one has to reach the level that can wow the editors and subsequently the readers. It is not an easy task but one that can be achieved with practice.