While working in the field of international development and the municipal government for over a decade, Nike Campbell-Fatoki relentlessly pursued her passion for writing. Born in Lvov, Ukraine , Nike’s parents were medical students in the defunct USSR but she spent her formative years in Lagos. Her time spent with her grandmother gave rise to her interest in stories. The stories piqued her interest, prompting her to ask more questions. She has just released her first book, Thread of Gold Beads, a historical fiction novel which chronicles the life of the daughter of the last independent king of Dahomey, present day Republic of Benin in West Africa during the French-Dahomey war of the late 1890s, her flight to South-Western Nigeria, and the challenges she faced adjusting to her new life.
In a chat with Afua Osei, Nike Campbell-Fatoki tells us a little about her background and the inspiration for her historical themed novel.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
I truly enjoyed the arts, in particular literature, in school. However, I was encouraged to pursue the sciences or social sciences and graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Howard University, Washington DC. My interest in fostering sustainable development in Africa, prompted me to attain a Master of Arts degree in International Development from the School of International Service, American University, Washington DC. I worked for several years in international development consulting firms managing overseas projects and recruiting consultants. Then, I made a career move into the municipal government in the Washington DC area where I continue to work in the budget and finance division. All this while, I began to weave the tale of Thread of Gold Beads.
What inspires your work?
The number one thing that inspired me were my grandparents. My grandmother always shared with me her personal life stories and those of her own grandmother. She told me this story when I was 8 or 9 years old and the particular story stayed with me. I used those stories as a foundation and then wove this story together with so many other stories of women in my life to form this book.
Why do you believe it is important to tell these kinds of stories?
This story is about faith, love, life, and betrayal. These are emotions that we all experience. It’s important that people recognize that how you react to situations matters. That is what determines where you are in life. The main character in Thread of Gold Beads goes through so much negativity but she rises above it all. The message is that bad things happen to good people but we can all rise above it.
What advice do you have for young people looking to become writers?
I encourage people to write because you have a passion, mission, or a story to share. I personally went to several writing classes when I first started thinking about writing a book. It’s important that when you are starting your career as a writer or in another field that you never stop learning. You should read as many books as you can to learn about how others are telling stories and how you can improve your craft. When you are first starting, take advantage of any opportunity you can get to practice and develop relationships. I started writing as a kid and my sister was my first reader. I then became a writer for the church magazine and took advantage of any avenue I could find to write.
What projects are you currently working on?
The book was just released on Amazon and is also available for download to Kindle. I am working to have the book distributed in Lagos and Abuja. Right now, I am working a second book to discuss and share the social issues of our time. As writers, we have the special opportunity to share with readers the stories that are not being told or talked about. I believe we can do more to talk about injustices and unspoken issues that can be stopped if we discussed it openly.
Tell us about the road you’ve taken thus far
Focus and hard work. With every position I’ve found myself and with every task I’ve been given I made sure that I learned the work and knew how to do it by myself. I’ve ensured that I could always take something from the position regardless of how difficult it proves to be.
What is the most rewarding part of being an author and writing this book?
The most rewarding part is being able to proudly say to my son: “yes I have finished this book” The message I want to share with him is that whatever you set your heart to do, with God and hard work you can do it. I am happy that through this book and my story I can hopefully empower other people to follow their dreams as well.
Watch the promo video for the novel “Thread of Gold Beads”
Afua Osei is a strategy and communications consultant that has taken her expertise with helping companies and political campaigns to helping young women achieve their career goals. You can find more tips at www.TheSavvyMadam.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TheSavvyMadam.