Tunde Leye is a business man, blogger and popular author of several awesome books, including his latest book, Afonja The Rise. You can find all of them here.
Tunde Leye is the (non-award winning ) author of two novels, Golden Sands and Guardians of the Seal. He has also published an illustrated children’s book, The Rat Race. He blogged at www.tlsplace.wordpress.com for 3 years during which he wrote seven series including the wildly popular Finding Hubby and two novellas; Yobachi, based on the early life of Nigerian novelist, Buchi Emecheta and The Ahosi, based on the lives of Dahomey Ahosi. He is a strong believer in the need to tell the history of his people in stories that will resonate and be remembered. He lives and writes in Lagos, Nigeria.
As writers, we know there is a lot to learn from Tunde Leye, and so we reached out to him for an interview. You should read it below.
Pelleura: It is nice to have this chat with you.
Tunde Leye: Thank you.
Pelleura: What were your dreams like when you were in school?
Tunde Leye: I dreamt of being a star. Hopefully, I’m still on the path to that.
Pelleura: Are you full time into business? Or do you have a day time job? And how do you bring writing into your tight schedule?
Tunde Leye: I run two businesses, apart from writing as an author and working as a publisher in the writing industry. It’s essentially a commitment to writing, and the love for it, that ensures I make the time for it. The measures I’ve had to take over the years have evolved, but the end goal is always to deliberately make out the time to write as often as I can. When I’m doing a project, it means writing and/or researching about 3 to 4 hours daily.
Pelleura: How did you start?
Tunde Leye: I’ve always been a reader. I remember putting any spare money I had as a kid into savings to buy books. Normally at home, you’re not supposed to do anything else when you eat, but my parents made an exception for me, allowing me to read my stories as I ate. The writing flowed naturally from this, but it fully blossomed when I had time on my hands during my service year when I was posted to Yobe and lectured at a the Federal Polytechnic, Damaturu.
Pelleura: What inspires you as a writer?
Tunde Leye: There is never one thing that inspires a creative. The key thing is being able to look at things and seeing new perspectives. Conversations. History. Current affairs. Human relationships. Anything, through new eyes.
Pelleura: How many titles have you written?
Tunde Leye: 4 novels, 2 novellas and 7 series.
Pelleura: Please tell us about your latest books, Afonja The Rise
Tunde Leye: The opening line of the short poem that introduces the book summarizes it – because our history must be told. Afonja The Rise is a telling of Yoruba history through the stories of two key figures, Kakanfo Afonja and Alaafin Aole, at a definitive period of that history – the fall of the Oyo Empire. It brings this history alive through a plethora of characters we might all relate with today while also painting a tapestry of the scale and splendor of the empire.
Pelleura: What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Tunde Leye: I read almost anything. History, fantasy, anime and sci-fi I however find the most enjoyable.
Pelleura: Have these books in any way influenced your writing.
Tunde Leye: Definitely. Most of the books I’ve written have been some form of alternate history/fantasy/history combination. However, I’ve explored other themes outside what I’d usually read, including chic lit like the wildly popular Finding Hubby.
Pelleura: What are the obstacles you’ve faced as a writer and how were you able to overcome them?
Tunde Leye: Because I found it hard to find a publisher initially, I have had to first publish my own work and then started a publishing outfit to publish my work and that of others. This journey has been the summary of the obstacles I’ve faced but at the risk of sounding cliché, it has turned out to be a stepping stone.
Pelleura: In a country like ours, do you think the government has put in place structures that help authors and freelance writers survive?
Tunde Leye: Publishing and authors flourish in spite of the government, not because of the structures they’ve put in place. If you go to any of the public libraries or places the government should maintain so that writers can research, you find nothing. And that’s just one of the fundamental things. It is why most of our best writers may start from here, but always always find their way abroad where they find the support structures and intellectual property protections to actually profit from their work
Pelleura: So presently, what are those achievements you’ve made in your writing and what future goals are you aiming for?
Tunde Leye: Commercially, I have a goal to sell a million books. That’s a measurable goals that I’m focused on and will be hopefully able to achieve soon. When I get there, we’ll find a different goal. Creatively, I intend to do a lot more work from our rich history and bring it to the world in all the forms a story can be – prose, stage and film.
Pelleura: How have you used social media to your advantage?
Tunde Leye: Social media is what has democratized access to the reader, and access of the reader to the writing. I built my brand as a writer off my blog and amplifying the blog on social media over three years from 2011 to 2014. It is off the back of this that I’ve launched my writing and publishing career and that has enabled me do this without the traditional publishing structures.
Pelleura: What’s the most important social media activity you engage in daily, to grow your writing business?
Tunde Leye: Engaging and creating content on my twitter account.
Pelleura: Do you have your own online platform?
Tunde Leye: Yes I do. www.afonjatherise.com is where you can find all my work at the moment.
Pelleura: If you were to do it all over again, would you choose to start and grow a business, or would you rather stick to paid employment?
Tunde Leye: I have gone through a path that started with paid employment only and then paid employment plus the businesses by the side and now the business full time. I think I prefer this process and I’d do it this way again.
Pelleura: What advice do you have for upcoming writers?
Tunde Leye: Writing advice should be read. And then discarded. Business advice should be sought. And understood.
Pelleura: Thanks so much for your time, Leye. It was nice having this chat with you
Tunde Leye: Thank you.
So, you’ve read from one of the most talented Nigerian authors of our time. You can connect with him via the handles below
Facebook: Tunde Leye