Sinmileoluwa Akinpelumi is a lawyer and author who has written about five novels. She owns a self-publishing website called Nova Creative Writers where writers showcase their works. In this interview by ‘YOMI AYELESO, she talks about her objective for creating the platform, how Nigerian writers could launch themselves to limelight, among other issues.
What informed your choice of career?
As a child, societal injustice was one of the things that never sat well with me. I always wondered about ways that equity and justice could be better attained in our world. I also wondered how I could help people who have been deprived of this justice due to poverty or other societal class reasons. There was no better way than to actually learn and understand the law. This is why I studied Law. It is a profession that allows me to actually contribute to the society and make the changes I want to see.
Where did you get your inspiration for writing?
I develop all my stories by myself but part of my inspiration comes from other novels I have read and sometimes, movies.
What motivated you to start Nora creative writers?
While I was writing my first novel, I thought about how to publish it without cost and realised there were other writers facing the same challenge. So, I decided to create a friendly platform where all creative writers could publish their work. I wanted to help solve that problem. Nova Creative Writers is an online self publishing community for creative writers and readers. Our web address is novacreativewriters.com and we upload daily contents on the website which include poetry, novels and short stories, blog contents, comics and webtoons. Since we launched on April 27th, 2020, we have received over 60 contents. For now, we have one comic and a webtoon. Those are areas we really want to explore. Uploading on the website is free but there is a submission process that is outlined on the submission page of the website. We also offer other services like editing, proofreading, book reviews and book design, ghostwriting, creative or content writing and story development that we charge for. We encourage authenticity so we upload only fictional novels of all genres, except academic books. Authors earn royalties from their second book; their first book is always free for readers.
What challenges have you been facing as a woman in a male dominated field?
I have faced a couple of challenges both as a lawyer and as a writer but the challenges I have faced so far have had nothing to do with my gender.
If you have to choose between writing and Law, which one will you pick and why?
Law is my profession and writing is my passion. I can’t choose between them because they are both important to me. I studied for years to become a lawyer, I love being a lawyer. Writing is one of my favourite things to do. I can’t imagine not being able to write. It has become a part of my life that I can’t part with. So, both law and writing are important to me.
In a way, it is even impossible to dissociate law from writing as there are some expressions of writing in my practice of the law.
How do you think the reading culture of most Nigerians could be enhanced?
I believe being a good reader is more of an interest than something that can be influenced by an external force. During the COVID-19 lockdown, I heard people complain about boredom and I couldn’t relate with that. Between writing, editing and reading, my entire day is clogged and active. Personally, I think it has to do with interests. Maybe more people will read if there are no social media networks. Maybe that’s an extreme thought because social media has played its part as being a tool for encouraging reading too.
Reading is a habit that can be cultivated. We just need proper balance between cultivating reading habits and the distractions of social media.
As a lawyer how do you think we can stop domestic violence and sexual abuse of women and children?
It’s a good thing that more people are becoming aware of their rights. However, more attention and effort should still be put towards sensitising people, especially those in rural areas.
We need to encourage sexual abuse victims to speak up. Abuse is not something to keep to oneself. There’s a need for creation of platforms where victims can report their abusers and open up about their abuse as well as get proper counseling. The justice system needs to be strengthened with more definite punitive measures to serve as deterrent for violators. The seeming toothless dog system where there’s a lot of barking and no biting needs to be eradicated. Abusers should actually be able to face trial and get punished adequately for their crimes when found guilty, regardless of their place in the society.
How do you intend to impact the society with your career as a lawyer and with your writings?
When anybody picks up a book, from the book title, you can almost tell if the writer is a Nigerian. While novels with plots told in the African way are beautiful, we can also have writers that write beyond the boundaries of Africa. I want my writing to show the world, Nigerians can also write great fantasy novels and paranormal novels. We can also produce a J.K. Rowling or Cassandra Clare. My novels are not the average Nigerian read and I would love to meet other young Nigerians with widely creative minds like mine.
I want to be part of a new wave of creative writers than scatter the boundaries of what an African storyline should revolve around.
As a lawyer, I intend to help to give a voice to people’s opinions more and encourage them to not be silent when there is a need to speak up. Knowing your rights and enforcing it are two different things. I want my generation to be bold and to be able to take steps that others have run from, solve problems on their own, using their own methods and not wait around for the government or complain about the government’s inadequacy. I think it’s time we grew out of that.
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