The life of author Funmi Anu Bankole is a classic ‘rags-to-riches’ success story. Growing up in hardship, the Nigerian-born writer had to work as a street hawker to bring money in to support her family. A devout Christian from an early age, she recognised the virtues of devotion and toil and, when not working, committed herself to her education and betterment.
Moving to the UK with her husband at the turn of the 1990s, Funmi used her enterprising mind to establish herself as a landlord. Navigating through the ups and downs of the property market is never easy, but her level-headiness and firm belief in the grace of God has always seen her through.
When the Covid pandemic struck last year, Funmi decided to take on a new challenge: to become an author. True to her ideals, her six books to date—including family dramas Turning Point, Born To Reign, Women In Waiting, The Prodigal Daughter and The Boss—all contain positive, inspiring messages of morality and faith behind the gripping melodrama.
You are the author of six books to date, including five novellas and a Christian memoir, Who is God? What first motivated you to become an author?
All glory to God for the grace given me. My greatest motivation for being an author is leaving this world better than I met it. As easy as this reads, I didn’t plunge into writing until the first Covid-19 lockdown last year. It was a friend who spurred me on after. He said, “There is just too much in you. Why don’t you consider writing a book? You’ve got time to do this now. I know you can do it”.
That was it. I perfectly understand that change is a constant; still I believe that an author is responsible for shaping both the mental and psychological powerhouses that spark needed changes in society. Therefore, being an author for me is something of a loyal service to humanity, in my little quota. I always desire that my readers see the shining light at the end of the tunnel.
Where do you get the inspiration for your plots?
Many of my plots are products of experiences, personal and collective, as well as sheer curiosity. My novel Turning Point, for example, features a plot involving a lady who doesn’t do her homework before entering the property market and suffers greatly, both financially and emotionally, as a consequence. This is based on the true story of a friend of mine.
You write predominantly in the family drama genre. What do you find most rewarding about this type of novel?
The family drama genre is the basis of whatever change we desire. The family is the strongest social unit and has a formidable impart in the shaping of a child’s mental and psychological outlook to life, and everything they will be engaged with over time. I believe that a proper (re)education targeted at this root of human development is more rewarding than tackling superficial challenges, which are pretty much infinite in number, alone.
What do you think is key to writing a good story?
The key to writing a good story is a complex determiner as there is no ‘best way’ to approach a story. Instead, I believe a good story should be a story that stems out of a need to represent, re-create, educate, and entertain as well as to challenge the consciousness of the reader to either effect a needed change or evaluate their valuation of what is being talked about.
What is your writing routine?
My routine coughs through everything I am engaged with when writing. I begin a book from one tiny idea that consumes me wholly. As the ideas reveal themselves in phrases, sentences, and then chapters, everything about me begins to reflect a part of the big story. Eating, sleeping, talking, dancing and silence—all of these shape my discovery of the plot. I never lose sight of my pen and jotter. My computer is always close to me. Everywhere seemingly becomes a part of my innate search to tell this story closely than ever.
This can be alienating sometimes but I do take some time off to ease out with family and friends, and also do some little things I find treasurable. And when I am back to the story, I let myself soak up every imagination and experience in my space. Everything becomes a part of the piece in my head and I just don’t see myself leaving them stranded in my mind. I let them live in my jotter, diary, and computer.
What do your readers enjoy most about your novellas?
Handpicking my readers’ interest in term of ‘most enjoyed’ is something I cannot be accurate about. I say this because I have a wide stream of readers and it will be unjust to say that this is what they love the most about my work. For some, it might be the genre; for others it might be the subject matter or themes addressed in the works. But in all, I am thrilled to know that I have lovable readers out there enjoying my works and bringing to life the little miracles sown into every piece.
When not writing books, what sort of books do you like to read?
When I am not writing, I am buried in curiosity-compelling books, essays, movies, or music. I am certainly not a straight-faced reader. I like to read on any and every topic as this opens me up to a wide variety of experiences.
You draw upon your Christian faith in your books. How do your beliefs inform the wider themes of your novellas?
To be precise, my Christian faith has a hold on my approach to life. Right from my childhood in Nigeria, I have seen the Christian faith has an anchor to living right and being right. My faith has, indeed, pushed me beyond borders in showing love and expressing it in the rarest of forms. It has taught me to outdo the ‘cancel theory’ prevalent in the popular space. With it, I come to understand hope as a needful societal element that has to be explored and shared abroad to as many as possible. To me, faith makes things beautiful uniquely.
Aside from being an author, you are also a singer. Tell us more…
Being a singer is traceable to my childhood love for music. I practically would sing every song there was because it was something I grew up loving! Music stood as an escape route for me while growing up despite all the negativity I had going around me as a street hawker in Lagos, Nigeria. Music is one of my deepest links in expressing myself before my Maker.
What’s next for you as an author?
Hmm. This is intriguing for me because my next adventure is something I am curious about too! I am presently working on my next book, titled The Dancing Horse. It is a story about pets and their healing potentials. Till then, I hope to sustain my readers’ curiosity on how best we can make our imprints on the sand of time.
All six of Funmi Anu Bankole’s books—Turning Point, Born To Reign, The Prodigal Daughter, Women In Waiting, The Boss, and Who Is God—are available from her website, www.FunmiAnuBankole.com, priced individually at £2.99 in eBook format, £5.99 for three or £9.99 for all six titles.
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