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Features, Interviews

Long before Celebrity Interviews and decades before Twitter blurbs and Polls; likes and dislikes, teenage author, Marcel Proust, answered a series of questions asked by the  Daughter of the Future Prime Minister – Felix Faure, while playing a parlor game.

The responses and question seemed normal at the time, but has since taken a life of its own.

Posthumously coined the Proust Questionaire, it has become a way for great luminaries to ponder life’s greatest notions – love; hope, happiness and even the essence of life itself. These questions are simple, yet revealing; and although on first grasp might look quotidian, a little introspection would reveal layers upon layers of sensibilities.

The Proust Questionaire remains a timeless reminder of the caprices, appeal, and innermost self of the creative spirit, and a tunnel through which masters and literary greats continue to whisper to us through the ages. Centuries later, the questions remain a direct, yet subtle probe of consciousness and complexities, usually part revealing and part funny.

When asked what his current state of mind was, David Bowie replied – ”pregnant,” and when Proust was asked where he would like to live, his reply was: “in the realm of the ideal, or rather, my ideal.”

Not known to allow themselves be penetrated, writers and creatives generally, are known for elaborate masks, built with beautiful wordplay and grand illusions, but  we are at least given a fraction of the simple, yet profound intricacies of a brilliant mind and the strangeness that allows a person gaze into the unknown to create further unknowns.

This is how to question the creative at heart, and dreamers by rote.

Abiodun Awodele – Writer at dusk, masquerade at dawn.

1. What is your idea of perfect happiness? I’d have to say that will be being successful at the things I set out to do, the things that matter to me, and success for my friends at the things that matter to them. I want success for me and my crew. 2. What is your greatest fear? I fear failure. I break out in cold sweat when I think about not making the grade anywhere or in whatever form, and that pushes me to strive harder to avoid failure. 3. What is the trait you most deplore in yourself? I think I’m too trusting of people. Many times I’ve been taken advantage of because I invested too much trust in the person. I like to be sincere with people, so when they don’t reciprocate it saddens me. I wish I trusted people less. 4. What is the trait you most deplore in others? I’m caught somewhere between dishonesty and time wasting. People who lie make me mad, just like people who have no sense of time and cannot be punctual to save their own lives. 5.  Which living person do you most admire? I’m not too big on hero worship, but I’ll pick my dad if push comes to shove. The man has taught me some lessons on people management that I’ll never forget in a hurry. 6. What is your greatest extravagance? There was a time I spent an insane amount of money on installing a satellite receiver system. I mean, it wasn’t like I even had time to watch so much television in the first place, but I had it installed anyway, just to please myself, money that could have been spent on something more useful. 7. What is your current state of mind? Very hopeful and optimistic. I’m looking forward to doing things I feel I should have done earlier, and hoping they’d give me satisfaction I dream of in doing them. 8. What do you consider the most overrated virtue? Chastity. I won’t expand on this. 9. What do you most dislike about your appearance? I like me, no, I love me, a lot. It’s not like I have a choice or I can look any different is it? Why dislike what you can’t change? An episode of Botched will tell you it’s better to stay the way you were made. Just love yourself. 10.  What is the quality you most like in a man? The ability to keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. Too many men these days just want to run their mouths and poke their nose. Don’t be one of those men. 11.  What is the quality you most like in a woman? The ability to keep your mouth shut and mind your own business. Too many women these days just want to run their mouths and poke their nose. Don’t be one of those women. 12.  Which words or phrases do you most overuse? Mine would have to be LOL. Depending on my mood, it can be a conversation starter, filler or ender. 13.  What or who is the greatest love of your life? If I told you, I’d have to kill you 14.  Which talent would you most like to have? Super powers are more my thing, but if you insist then I’ll say it would be making money off  other peoples’ talents 15.  If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Maybe I’d love to be more forceful with people, and less trusting in certain circumstances. 16.  What do you consider your greatest achievement? For now, releasing my first book would have to be it. The doubt and uncertainty was immense, but I finally rose above all that and just did it. 17.  If you were to die and come back as a person or a thing, what would it be? Person of course. Imagine coming back as tissue paper. Ewww! 18.  Where would you most like to live? In quiet village (preferably on a farm) somewhere in Europe. Light would be constant and there wouldn’t be any ‘Fulani Herdsmen’ to disturb the peace. I love quietude. 19.  What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery? Being in a situation you don’t want, and not being able to do anything about it. 20.  What is your most marked characteristic? My carefree attitude. I’m easygoing, I think. I’m not too demanding, and I find joy in little things. 21.  What do you most value in your friends? Loyalty. Has to be loyalty. I want my friend to be my friend in every sense of the word. Is that too much to ask? 22.  Who are your favorite writers? John Jakes, Ted Dekker and Stephen King. 23.  Who is your hero of fiction? I don’t have any. 24.  Which historical figure do you most identify with? Marilyn Monroe 25.  Who are your heroes in real life? Parents, all of them. 26.  What is your greatest regret? That I didn’t pursue my writing dream earlier. Maybe by now I would have ‘blown’. Who knows? I’m grateful for the talent and all that, but sometimes I wish I’d listened to the voices in my head much earlier. 27.  How would you like to die? Peacefully, with two Angels on hand to take me to the mansion in the sky 28.  What is your motto? Life is an ‘I’ experience. It might sound a tad selfish, but do stuff for you. At the end of the day the consequences of your actions are yours anyway, so why worry about other people? ***** Abiodun Awodele is a writer, and his books, “Always and Forever.” and “As In A Day” areout on Okadabooks and Amazon.

Sector IV is a book set in the period of the Nigerian Civil war and the months just after it ends. A story of stories, the book runs through the lives (and sometimes deaths) of various individuals linked by a common fate in their bid to escape the distortions that wartime sorrow and pain visits on the lives of erstwhile normal and ordinary people. The book does not overly focus on the atrocities of war to create a horror fest or seek to apportion blame to any of the combating sides; rather, it simply takes us through the daily lives of the characters as they make choices concerning love, sacrifice, wealth, loyalty and patriotism with the war serving as a backdrop in a matter of factly manner. It tells of how the war irreversibly affects the lives of the main character Onyiyechi and the others, how it brings to the surface feelings of discontent which were normally hidden and tests their loyalties to loved ones, how it forces them to adopt pragmatic solutions to problems that would have otherwise proved awkward and inconvenient at other times. Love is lost and found, as is friendship, while death, sorrow and suffering become familiar visitors, ripping apart the cocoon of peace and hope which had been wrapped around their lives before the advent of the conflict. It also reveals how people are forced to re-evaluate their positions and make strange choices in the face of overwhelming odds, all in a bid to survive the harsh realities they are faced with during war time. As we find out, sometimes the choices they make don’t always turn out for the best. The book seamlessly fuses history with fiction and drives home its message beautifully with the author’s simplistic use of clear language. Account of events are written to enable the reader feel as if he/she is watching a movie, while the characters struggle to overcome all the challenges the war brings to their doorstep. It paints the interaction of the lives of the characters with the war in harsh vivid colors, letting it be known to everyone that reads that war is hell for all those who go through it, but there is hope for those who survive. It also subtly addresses domestic spousal issues, especially the usually silent but evident battle between both sexes for compromise and dominance and the right to take certain decisions based on differing viewpoints. You are breathlessly carried along as you live through Onyinyechi’s eyes, the challenges of a young adult female in a traditional society disrupted by war, how she deals with the consequences of the choices she makes concerning love, loss, duty and loyalty and her unwavering determination to survive all the ordeals with her humanity intact. It is my opinion that there are quite a few loose ends which the writer did not satisfactorily tie up. Whether this was deliberately done to leave room for a sequel is what we wait to find out. Also, the twist at the end although brilliant, robs the reader of closure. The book is particularly recommended for young adults – who were not born at that time but who have ‘romantic’ allusions of war, especially those who are part of the increasingly strident agitations for the sovereign state of Biafra – to read and understand why none of us should pray to relive the events of those dark days.   [color-box] Abiodun Awodele daily juggles the Lagos hustle with running his personal blog and trying to stay sane in an increasingly insane world. Prose (fiction) and poetry roll of his pen as the spirit directs and his first collection of short stories is expected to hit the shelves very soon. He blogs at Follow him on twitter @MASKURAID [/color-box]

It is no longer news that our very own Abiodun (@MASKURAID) won the maiden edition of Peregrine Reads #12DaysOfChristmas Poetry Contest. He was presented with  George R.R Martin’s Game of Thrones Full Book set; a complete box set of 7 books! (A Collector’s Item). Congratulations once again to Abiodun. Find below an excerpt from Peregrine Reads website:
It was a huge pleasure finally meeting the winner; Abiodun (at Omenka Gallery on Wednesday 7th Jan 2014), who was totally overjoyed upon receiving his gift. Here’s what he (Abiodun) had to say: “I had no allusions to the winning gifts as at the time of submitting my entry (except for the publishing part) so I was very pleasantly surprised to get a pack containing the seven books. Everybody knows and loves the Game of Thrones series so when I discovered my gift was the very books from which they were adapted, It felt as if I’d just won the lottery! As a member of Mainland Book Club, more than a few of the other members are already green with envy as they queue up to read after I’m done. Thank you once again for the opportunity to participate in the challenge…”
Did he just mention us? LOL… Here are pictures from the gift presentation. (Pictures courtesy Peregrine Reads). photo-1 photo-14 photo-11 lucy photo-19 photo-7 ******* SOURCE: Peregrine Reads