Adesuwa Iluobe: I Want to Be a Renowned Writer and Successful Businesswoman

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SUPER SATURDAY STORY

Young, cerebral, creative Adesuwa Iluobe’s love for poetry and creativity did not come by chance. At the age of six, she had begun to create comics. Few years after, she was already writing short stories. Fast forward to adulthood, she’s a writer, lawyer, innovator and a fashion designer – with a fashion line called Seams Clothiers. She tells Adedayo Adejobi about her sojourn in the literary world, and using technology, innovations to foster reading culture and inspire other young writers

• At Age Six, I Began to Create Comics

• Mum and Dad Helped Me to Become an Avid Reader

• I Used to Draw Comics As a Child

What can you say about yourself?

I am creatively spontaneous; one who is always seeking ways to leave individuals and organisations better than I met them. I had a sheltered childhood. I was born in Lagos where I schooled at Dammyville Kindergarten School, and Fountain Nursery and Primary School, Adelabu, Surulere. Later, I went to Federal Government Girls’ College, Benin City, Edo State. I studied Law at the University of Abuja and got called to the Nigerian Bar in 2011. I became a chartered secretary and administrator in 2015. 

How did you cut your teeth as a writer?

I fell in love with literature during my childhood, courtesy of my parents. Dad bought me books as gifts 95 per cent of the time and mum had boxes of novels and books like Pacesetters and so on.  By the time I was six years old, I was reading Enid Blyton’s books, Malory Towers, Saint Clares. It was books, books, and books. I remember Yvonne Ifode, my Primary Two classmate. She used to lend me books to read. Reading was a huge part of my childhood. I graduated to drawing comics and stories with short chapters. I would draw over 20 leaves of comics with dialogues and then gave them to my schoolmates to read. They almost never returned them. If only I knew that those were priceless works, I would not have let them go that easily. I did this even while in the university but stopped as soon as I owned a laptop. That was how I started writing.

Did you grow up knowing you would be a writer?

Yes, I did. In fact, ‘I want to be a writer’ was my mantra. I always wanted to study English and Literature.

If you weren’t a writer, what would you be doing?

I am not only a writer – added to being a lawyer – I am also a fashion designer. I started an outfit called Seams Clothiers in 2012. I design and sew dresses. However, I am presently trying to rejig that aspect of me. I also have a growing interest in business development. We spend years in school but are hardly taught how to grow and sustain a business or create wealth via innovations. It is a major challenge I faced and still face. I feel excited at the moment we live in; there is so much evolution in business and technology and much to learn in making both works for one’s passion.

How do you juggle being a writer, lawyer, secretary and fashion designer?

Being a lawyer and chartered secretary leans more to the tasks that comprise of my day job and other advisory roles. I love writing so much I do not consider it a burden or a job. Sometimes, when I feel tensed or uptight I write. During the times when I was actively into fashion designing as a business, I engaged in it mostly during the weekends or at nights when I had to meet deadlines. Then I engaged staff to assist me.

How did you get into fashion?

Fashion is something I have wanted to contribute to. So, I took the plunge and enrolled at a fashion school in 2011 during my National Youth Service Corps programme.

What projects are you working on?

Aside promoting The Farm, a book I launched in July this year, I am working with other writers to set up a virtual hub for writers and readers called, ‘Satayaa’. It is a hub where one can learn to get improve on writing and be instilled with the value of extensive reading. We are making a debut in September with a writers’ retreat in Abuja. Every writer who needs motivation should be there. The journey as a writer would have been easier if I had a mentor or a writing coach much earlier. I got to learn a lot by reading, asking questions and making mistakes. I believe we need more individuals with passion and commitment to assist writers to be the best they can be and I would be one of them. I am grateful to people like Dike Chukwumerije, author of ‘Urichindere’, who gave me a listening ear in the midst of his busy schedule.

Tell us about ‘The Farm’.

‘The Farm’ is a metaphor that represents a litany of issues that besiege Nigeria. It is a collection of five stories which are satires and a reflection of us as a country. There are many things we refuse to talk about (like activities of baby factories, terrorism, discrimination and so on), perhaps for lack of insight of their true position or because we have lost hope in any chance of redemption. However, I felt bringing these issues up as stories would sear them into our minds and in turn spur us into action.

How do you see Nigeria’s creative industry?

The creative industry is taking giant steps in the right direction. The music and movie industry has gone pretty far. We are attracting international attention and focusing on details that border on quality and creativity. I like how technology is being employed to aid this and while I believe it can be better, I know we would go beyond the present. In the literary sphere, Nigerians are topping literary awards all over the world. Authors like Nnedi Okoroafor is widely acclaimed as one of the top six sci-fi fiction writers in the world and her novel, ‘Who fears Death’, has been acquired by American media power house, HBO, and will be produced as a series by George R.R as executive producer. He is the writer of the hit series, ‘Game of Thrones’. Developments like this give young writers like me so much hope and motivation. However, I feel there is need to revamp the methods by which books and stories are told. We can take a cue from Chukwumerije’s strategy to sell poetry via creatively presenting it in his Made-in-Nigeria series holding in different parts of Nigeria. We need to leverage on technology in no small measure and embrace innovations that foster reading culture.

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I see myself making giant strides in my mission to be a renowned writer. I would also be one to reckon with in the business sphere.

Which authors do you admire?

Jeffery Archer; I love his style of writing. I also think Francine Rivers is greatly talented. I learn a lot from their books. They are unseen mentors to me. I enjoyed ‘Half of a Yellow Sun’ by Chimamanda Adichie and ‘Tomorrow Dies Yesterday’ by Chimeka Garricks.

If you were to meet a writer, who would that be?

Jeffrey Archer.

What’s your definition of fashion?

Comfort.