I recently read Tomorrow Died Yesterday by Chimeka Garricks, I loved it. While reading the book, an idea to interview the author came up and I am glad that I reached out to send questions for this online interview.
Let’s dive in:
It is easy to find your bio, I’ll skip the introductory part. However, at what point in your life did you know you had a flair for storytelling?
Chimeka Garricks: Looking back, the earliest stories I told were the short comic strips and sketches I created on my school notebooks from when I was about 7 till 14.
The various point of views made the story richer, why did you choose to write ‘Tomorrow Died Yesterday’ from that perspective?
Chimeka Garricks: The story, like most things in life, is complicated and nuanced. And every character had blind spots and biases. So, the only way to have told that story was to use multiple points of view so readers could see the full picture. Telling it from a single perspective would have been a disservice.
“I have doubts about the capacity of art to bring about societal change, especially in Nigeria. I think art weaves its best magic on the personal, and not on the group, level.”- Chimeka Garricks
‘Tomorrow Died Yesterday’ was published in 2010, what were your expectations for the book then, what is the expectation vs. reality situation?
Chimeka Garricks: At publication, my expectations were minimal to modest (maybe because writing was never a full-time interest for me). Instead, I was relieved that I had unburdened myself from the weight of carrying the story, and more curious about feedback. Now, the feedback has been 99% positive (which I am chuffed about), and I am also aware of the other possibilities of the story (for example: newer version, movie, etc).
What can you say about the Niger Delta situation now, compared to when you wrote about the book?
Chimeka Garricks: The core problems — environmental challenges (spills, flaring, soot, etc.), insecurity, poverty, poor governance — have still not been tackled in any sustainable way, and they have worsened.
I particularly enjoyed how you wrote about relationships with God in the book: it is worth applauding. Was that inclusion about God/religion intentional?
Chimeka Garricks: Yes, the inclusion was intentional. Faith is an important part of most people’s lives (notwithstanding that many struggle to live right according to the tenets of their faith). I believe that since art is meant to mirror life, art should also show the influence of faith on people (and not in the typically contemptuous way which is common in most of the fiction that has crossed my path in recent times).
Who are your favourite storytellers?
Chimeka Garricks: This list is not exhaustive, but off the top of my head, I’ll mention: Cyprian Ekwensi, Chuma Nwokolo, Zukiswa Wanner, Junot Diaz, and Petina Gappah.
Do you prefer fiction or non-fiction? Paperback or e-book?
Chimeka Garricks: I prefer fiction. I prefer short fiction in electronic form, but for anything, longer, give me a paperback.
Do you think writing fiction about social change would impact the Nigerian society?
Chimeka Garricks: Not necessarily. While we all appreciate the power of fiction, or art in any form, (to feed souls, dredge our deepest emotions, create empathy, entertain, etc.), I have doubts about the capacity of art to bring about societal change, especially in Nigeria. I think art weaves its best magic on the personal, and not on the group, level. Nevertheless, sometimes art catches and rides a wave of societal change, and is inextricably embedded with it.
Do you have another book in the works?
Chimeka Garricks: Yes. I have a collection of short stories which, touch wood, will be published in the first quarter of 2020.
Favourite quotes or words you live by?
Chimeka Garricks: “He who finds his life shall lose it: and he who loses his life for my sake shall find it” – Matthew 10:39.
I hope you enjoyed the interview and I hope you read Tomorrow Died Yesterday.