Tuesday 10 April 2012

Nothing Comes Close..

Tolulope is a creative writer, blogger and lover of books and literature.  She quit her career in accounting after she rediscovered her love for writing to become a full-time writer in 2009. She is  currently working on her first full-length novel titled "Nothing Comes Close" which will be published in summer 2012 by Accomplish Press. In 2009, Tolu set up an online web fiction series titled "In My Dreams It Was Simpler" with seven other writers . The series was very popular with readers rushing to read the latest installment every Friday. The stories were finally finished in January 2011. In this interview, she talks about her audacious adventure into the writing world, childhood, and her “fresh outta tha kitchen book” -- “Nothing comes close”.  Now talking about kitchens….. Did I mention that she’s stuck on sandwiches? Enjoy!

"Believe in yourself and the talents God has placed inside you, stop procrastinating. God gives the ideas and the opportunities but you have to work to bring them to life!" 
Tolulope Popoola
How has it been... the journey so far.... from when you quit your accounting career to publishing the series "In my dreams, It was simpler"?

It’s been an interesting journey, mostly one of faith, and a bit of courage to overcome the doubts in my head. I knew I wasn’t happy with my career as an accountant and it certainly wasn’t something I saw myself doing for the rest of my life. Once I had that figured out, I started thinking about what I would enjoy doing. I’ve always enjoyed reading, writing and keeping a journal, and blogging had rekindled my interest in writing stories. But it took a while for me to realise that I could actually make a career out of it. When I started receiving feedback from people who had read some of my short stories, I decided to expand one of them, and that’s how the series “In My Dreams It Was Simpler” came about. It grew beyond our expectations, and readers wanted us to compile the posts into a book, and so that’s what we did. It was fun, hard work, and a huge learning curve for all of us involved. I’ve had to make some financial sacrifices and let go of a regular income but I’m happy to be doing something I really enjoy. 

What would you say has been the most fulfilling moment for you, through the whole process?
I’ve had a lot of fulfilling moments, from realising that I was now enjoying my new career, to creating fictional characters that people can identify with, to getting encouraging feedback, to seeing my work in print. I still get lots of fulfilling moments every day. Even something as little as the fact that I can work from home, gives me fulfilment.

What were you like as a kid?
I was an introvert (still am) who preferred to bury myself in a book than go out to a party. I loved to daydream and imagine myself in the stories I was reading.

What kind of books did you read?
I read a variety of books growing up. Enid Blyton supplied me with stories of faraway lands, enchanted forests, talking toys and wishing chairs, the adventures of the Famous Five,the girls of St Clare’s and Mallory Towers, etc. I read Little Women and its sequels, the Pacesetters series, Animal Farm, some Shakespeare plays, and lots of other books by authors like Buchi Emecheta, Cyprian Ekwensi, Mabel Segun and Wole Soyinka. As a teenager, I read Jackie Collins, Danielle Steel, Sidney Sheldon, a few Mills and Boons novels, etc.

You left Nigeria a couple of years ago to live in the UK, apparently you've had a multi-cultural experience, how has that influenced your writing?
I think living in the UK has given me the ability to place myself in the shoes of someone with a different background from mine. It’s made me realise that when it comes down to it, people are just that – human beings with needs. Things like culture, skin colour and background don’t matter – we’re all people with similar needs for love, acceptance, understanding and respect. 

Nigerian authors in diaspora seem to be doing much better than their counterparts at home....what do you think is the missing link?
When you say “much better”, does that mean in terms of getting published? I actually think that Nigeria is such a fertile place for ideas and stories, whether fiction or non-fiction. Any writer dedicated to their craft would make progress anywhere. The difference is getting your work published and recognised internationally. There are fewer publishers in Nigeria and they don’t want to take risks on unknown names, so many writers have to go down the self-publishing route. In this part of the world, it is still difficult to get published, so your work has to be very good to attract the attention of a publisher. But if you’re lucky enough to get published here, you have a bigger platform so you get noticed quicker.

Africa and Europe....Can literature be used as a tool to bridge the divides between the two continents?
Yes indeed. Literature can be a tool to show us a reflection of ourselves even in other people from a different time or place. If more people read more widely, we can understand the world better.


The book, "In My Dream, It Was Simpler", you co-authored it with several other writers, and each had to write from the perspective of a different character in the book, was it difficult to weave it all together?
Yes it was. Each writer did a great job working on their character’s life and individual dramas. The main challenge was getting the individual plot lines and different chapters to come together into one story. We had to read the chapters over and over again to ensure that we didn’t overlook any important detail that could change the direction of the story. During the writing process, we learnt to work to a schedule and discuss the plots and storylines beforehand, especially if one person’s post was going to affect another person’s character.

Working with other authors must have been refreshing. Can you share some of the things you learnt from the experience?

I leant that collaboration can help create something better than what I alone could have done. Before we started the series online, I had no idea how it would turn out so it was an experiment. The series brought different writing styles and ideas together to create something that I could not have thought of on my own. 

Are you, presently working on any collaborations?
Not at the moment. I’m focusing on the novel.

Tells us about your new book, "Nothing Comes Close"
The novel is actually a spin-off from the series. This story focuses on Lola and Wole as the two main characters, and how their relationship developed in spite of the challenges they had to face.

How did you get the story idea?
In the series, Lola and Wole were getting closer and their relationship was deepening, but we didn’t get to see if they overcame a new set of challenges that was thrown at them. So I had the idea to take their story out of the series, and continue writing it separately.

What are the major themes explored in the book?
There is love, friendship, betrayal, secrets, honesty, regrets and hopefully, a happy ending.

Could you give us a peek into the lives of the main characters?
Lola is a confident career girl. She is feisty and fun, she’s intelligent but vulnerable. She has her flaws, but she knows what she wants and she stands for what she believes in. She often sees things in black and white, and she is not afraid to speak her mind or take risks. Wole is quite mysterious and unpredictable, but he’s also very loyal and he’s got a huge sense of duty and justice. Together, they make for a very interesting couple.

What inspired the title?
The title came from something Wole said. He was admitting that nothing comes close to having Lola in his life.

How long did it take you to finish the book?
The series ended in June last year, and the novel will be published in June this year, so roughly about twelve months to complete from series to novel.

When is it expected to hit the book shelves?
From June 2012 the book will be available.

Are you going to be exploring any new marketing channels?
I will be exploring both traditional and online marketing channels.

Would the book be available for purchase in Nigerian book stores?
Yes, I’m working on getting the book distributed in Nigeria.


What advice do you have for aspiring Nigerian writers?
Keep reading and writing. Read great books by other writers, and practice writing every day. That’s the only way you’re going to get better at your craft. Keep a notepad with you at all times, so that you can jot down any ideas that come to you wherever you are. Listen to feedback, sometimes a different opinion may be just what you need to see the weakness in your work. And be resilient in doing it, even when you get discouraged. Pick yourself up and continue. 

Now for a bit of fun fill in the blank spaces!

The best compliment I ever got....
Having my very good friend tell me I was her role model and she wants to be like me.

My favourite dish.....
Hard to choose! Okay I would say a Frances china. Best sandwich I’ve ever eaten.

The first thing I do when I wake in the morning....
Erm, open my eyes?

Lol,My best vacation ever....
A week around Europe with the hubby in 2009

You'd never catch me.....

Three things you'll find in my hand bag....
Keys, wallet, lipgloss… Did you say three things? I could go on.

 Lol…What I'd never post on my facebook wall!.....
Gossip or bitchy comments.

I'd give anything for.....
A two week holiday without the baby!

Thank you so much Tolu!

foLLOW  ToLU @

 interview by Chidi Ugbe


  1. Great interview! Please where can i buy your books in Nigeria?

  2. Thanks Henry! I'm sure you can get Tolu's book in Nigeria once it's out. Stay in touch, We'd tell you as soon as it does.

  3. Hey Myne, thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend!