Today, we chat with Victor Olisa about his debut novel: The Other Child.
Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.
A: My name is Victor Olisa. I love to write, and I make video reviews on Youtube during my spare time.
Q: How long have you been writing?
A: I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to enjoy writing essays for my classmates. It did not always get them perfect marks, but it got the job done, and I enjoyed doing it.
Q: What is The Other Child about?
A: The other child is basically about a boy trying to win his father’s affection somewhat, and along the way meets a spirit girl who offers him an easy way out, but of course the spirit girl has ulterior motives.
Q: How did you come up with the plot?
A: Okay the plot is woven around African myths and legends. Parts of the stories my mum told us formed the backbone of the book. The idea of the book though came to me after hearing about the ICARUS GIRL by Helen Oyeyemi, but I could not get my hands on this particular book at the time, so I decided to write something to keep me busy.
Q: Tell us about Frederick.
A: Frederick is just nine years old. He is an unsure and slightly effeminate child and is wild with imagination. He is more interested in listening to his best friend tell him stories, and doing house chores rather than play with other boys his age, hence his father’s disappointment, which just adds to Frederick’s emotional vulnerability. It is the push to gain his father’s love and approval that is the driving plot of the book.
Q: What do you feel sets your book apart from others of the same genre?
A: Okay like I said earlier, the book bears some similarities with other books but only in idea. I finally got to read The Icarus Girl and other books of the same genre years after I had written The Other Child. Mine is different because of the multicultural element, the idea of an effeminate male protagonist, inclusion of spirits, a little bit of storytelling by an eccentric grandmother, Frederick’s ignorant mother and a father who is in denial. Yeah there’s a lot going on in the book but thanks to my editor everything is tied in the end so there are no loose ends.
Q: Did you have any specific goals when writing The Other Child? Any themes or ideas or concepts that you wanted to get across to the audience?
A: Not really, I feel that if you write a book with a goal in your head (to educate or create awareness) half of the time the writing comes out mechanical and unnatural. However though, I always write in the hope that readers get the same feeling I get when I read amazing books by awesome authors like Steve Skidmore and Steve Barlow, JK Rowling, Suzanne Collins and Chimamanda Adichie. I’m not claiming to have achieved that though.
Q: How long did it take you to write The Other Child? Did you hire any outside help such as a cover artist or editor
A: I started writing it in 2006. I completed it that year, but I forgot about it because I did not think it was debut material. I thought I had lost it, and then in 2011, my mum found my old manuscripts and sent them to me. I re-read it, found that it held my interest but it needed a lot of work since I was more mature now, and I set to work on it. I uploaded versions of it on a website called naijastories.com and got feedback. After incorporating feedback, I hired an editor and we worked together on it.
Q: Who has been your biggest supporter in your writing aspirations? How do they support you?
A: Sadly my biggest supporters are virtual people from the same website. At times I wish I had more friends who were into literature and writing, but this is not the case. However my virtual supporters help out with critique and suggestions.
Q: As I'm sure you know, many readers like to find their favorite authors on social networking websites like facebook and twitter. Do you have any social network links you'd like to share?
A: I have a facebook page here: http://www.facebook.com/pages/OLS-Network/324078944298323
My youtube channel is here: http://www.youtube.com/user/maguseify
I am a fairly active tweeter: @victolisa or my Youtube personality @olsnetwork
Q: What do you think of the changes taking place in the publishing industry? With authors gaining more control over the creation and distribution of their work, what do you think readers stand to gain/lose?
A: Main stream publishing will always be the number one no matter what. I still long to see scholastic, Bloomsbury or Simon and Schuster accept my book for publication, but in a case where they are not interested or you do not have the correct means to get their attention even after your 1000th revision, you have to take matters into your own hands, so in a way it’s good for writers. Readers on the other hand would gain more than lose because epic books that otherwise would not have seen the light of day because of a badly written query letter, would get the chance to be published. I hope I am making sense.
Q: Were there any other authors in particular that inspired you to pen your own novel?
A: The first time I thought of writing something as complicated as a novel was after reading Narnia, then I moved on to Harry Potter, then Stephen king novels and James Patterson. I think they all inspire me.
Q: Do you have a favorite type of music to listen to when writing?
A: I prefer the quiet when I write, it allows me to think.
Thank you so much for taking the time to talk with us today. Best of luck to you with The Other Child!
As a special bonus, Victor Olisa has offered to give away a free copy of The Other Child to one lucky reader! Just sound off in the comments below, and one winner will be selected at random to receive this free ebook!