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AN INTERVIEW WITH THE PROVOST OF DE-RACONTEUR WRITER’S CLUB
MARY: Yaaaayy… Happy New Year to my wonderful family adopted through De-Raconteur Writers’ Club. It’s our first time meeting this year right? Trust me, this year is already an amazing one for us.
Guess who I have here with me?
With my standing ovation, I hereby introduce to you as our Raconteur for The Week, the person through which God has brought forth this wonderful platform. She is also the convener of The Babes of Unique Dynamites (BUD) Family.
You are welcome ma. It is really an honor to have you here.
LIZZY: Thank you so much, Mary.
MARY: Who is Ma’am Lizzy Yakubu?
LIZZY: Oh well, this girl is a child of God; a wife to a king; a princess to a wonderful family; a sister to some amazing humans; a ‘mother’ to many; a lover of love; a teacher of so many things; a blogger; a homemaker; a counselor; a play play journalist; a writer from then, now till forever.
Okay, now, let me stop playing. My name is Elizabeth Oyebola Yakubu. (Nee Oyekunle) Friends call me Deraconteur, Lizzyfreezie or Mrs. Yaks as the case may be. I am a child of God and sincerely love to glorify Him here on earth and prepare daily to reign with Him eternally. Therefore, I do all the Holy Spirit empowers me to, in order that the Name of the Lord may be glorified. I am, by the Grace of God; the founder of The BABES of Unique Dynamite Family- The B.U.D. Family (An online home where godly ladies grow); the provost of De-Raconteur Writers’ College (A college where godly Christian writers are groomed). I am also the president of the De-Raconteur Writers’ Club (A home for Christian writers to connect). I blog at de-raconteur.com. I look forward to being a family blogger and Youtuber very shortly.
MARY: What’s your educational background like?
LIZZY: I went to a standard primary and secondary school; graduated from Bowen University, Iwo with a B.Sc in Mass Communication (Media practices) in 2015 and bagged a Masters in Journalism from Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. Kaduna State in 2018.
MARY: What is the first book that made you cry?
LIZZY: Hmmm…I don’t think I can remember any. I have been moved severally when I write my stories till I tear up but I really can’t remember the first BOOK that drew my tears out. Haha
MARY: How did your writing journey start?
LIZZY: While growing up, we had (and still have) a tank house. Being raised in a home of teachers (Mum, proprietress and teacher; dad, lecturer), we had packets of chalks at home. I would pick some pieces and start writing ‘jargon’ on the tank house. I caught my dad reading the ‘jargon’ one day with a smirk on his face. He called me thereafter, handed me some sheets of paper and pen and told me to write things. I was happy that someone at least was interested in whatever I had to write. He would read, edit and verbally explain things to me.
He told me that I could become an author soon if I continued and worked on myself. Oh wow! Your girl started working on so many imaginations till in JSS 3, Akeem’s Trial, Educational Plays and Angel of Wonders were birthed. My dad published all of them; my principal and some teachers were proud of me and I was encouraged to continue.
Then, after writing so many manuscripts, another one made it to the printing press when I was in SS. 3- If Joys Were Dollars. I went on a long break after SS.3 but in 2016, during my National service, I resumed writing again- not out of my imaginations now but out of the depth of inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
MARY: Does writing energize or exhaust you?
LIZZY: Ah, it leaves me bubbling with so much energy o. Writing for me is a way of encouraging, healing, saving and bringing other people to the Lord, so when I write, I become too excited that I want to let the writings out immediately but then I would tell myself ‘C’mon, Lizzy, calm down. Is the Holy SPirit asking this story to go now?’ Then, the bubbles will relax. Haha
MARY: Do you view writing as a kind of spiritual practice?
LIZZY: I doooooooooooo! Oh my God! In the Bible, whenever the Lord says anything deep to any of His people, He would tell them to put it down in a book- to WRITE it and run with it! Of course, writing for me is a big deal. A big deal for Jesus.
MARY: Does a big ego help or hurt writers?
LIZZY: Big ego? Hmmmm…I really do not know what that means, please come down to my level ooo…haha. But actually, if I break your words down, ego is self esteem. Big self esteem is what you are asking about then. Does it help or hurt writers? Hmmm…well, the Bible says we should do things in moderation. Having a mild/moderate ego as a writer won’t hurt you. It will make you know you are worthy of the life you have. It will give you a desire to strive for something better but yet you don’t think you are the “greatest” person in the world. You don’t think you can be the only person that can make the world “amazing” and everyone should listen to you.
When your ego is big, you tend to be unteachable. You do not strive to be better because, of course, why should you be, when you are contented with what you have? A big ego will not let you learn from other writers because you think you have it all. I think a big ego hurts a writer so much. May God help us not to fall into the tempting, soiled arms of Mr. Big Ego in Jesus Name ooo.
MARY: Amen. What was your preparation for becoming a christian writer?
LIZZY: I have actually been a person who believes in total surrender to the Lord. I remember the days when I would lock myself up to tell God, ‘I surrender all! My talent, my dreams, my life, my aspirations, I surrender all!’
And so, while going for my National service, I was troubled about how to really use my inert talents for the Lord. I was so troubled that I voiced it out to my younger brother. The Lord then spoke through the boy. ‘Why not start a blog?’
I was like ‘What is a blog?’ Haha…He started explaining to me and that was it. The interest rose in my mind like yeast in a dough. As quickly as possible, I went to my closet again, told God about the new development, heard from God, got a blog name and phew, my brother brought the blog to life and I started writing. I would ask God for inspiration, He would give me, I would then prayerfully start typing. Prayerfully publish, prayerfully read the comments and reply. That was how it all started.
MARY: Do your readers’ choices determine what you write?
LIZZY: The person who determines what I write is the Holy Spirit. Sometimes when I go ahead of myself to write something because I feel like it, I tell you, it won’t even go far. The Holy Spirit actually knows what each of my readers needs to read at each passing moment and He ensures I publish that at the right time. That is why many of my readers say ‘This is what I need right now!’- because the Holy Spirit set the timing!
I have many writings in my folders here that are in ‘waiting’. Why? The Holy Spirit hasn’t asked them to be brought forth.
MARY: Do you think someone could be a writer if they don’t feel emotions strongly?
LIZZY: Never! What you do not FEEL when you are writing, your readers will never feel when they are reading. What you do not see or touch or taste when you are writing, your readers will never see or touch or taste when they are reading. The tears you didn’t shed when you are writing, your readers won’t shed when they are reading. The smile that didn’t fill your face when writing will not fill the faces of the readers too.
It is very important for writers to have emotions. They can even easily smell stories around them every moment, then.
MARY: What was the best money you have ever spent as a writer?
LIZZY: Mary, these questions of yours ehn, kaya! The best money, hmmmm…I got it, now! Data! Internet connection! Gigabytes! Whatever you call it. Oh my! Data has gotten the ‘best’ of my money in this life. If I add up all the data I have used for writing ehn, kai! I am a millionaire o, my sister. Haha. But we thank the Lord. It is His work and He keeps funding it. Data has made me reach where my legs have not reached, so it is my ‘best’, I think.
MARY: What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
LIZZY: Karen Kingsbury! Oh no, I didn’t want it to sound that way. Okay, let me explain. I met Francine Rivers in 2009 (Inside ‘The Redeeming Love’ haha) and I fell in love with her. Shortly after that, one of my stories got into the hands of the niece to my then editor and she wrote me my first ‘fan letter’ (I still have it in my locker.) She gushed over me like I was a celebrity and said ‘…you write just like Karen Kingsbury…’ and I was like, ‘who is that?’
I got a novel by Karen Kingsbury and expected something extraordinary but I didn’t really feel it. My dear sister, don’t mind me then o. I am loving my woman sweetly now. I follow her on Instagram and follow the Baxter series too. She is an amazing granny just like Francine.
MARY: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a new story?
LIZZY: It depends on the kind of story I am writing. If for example, I am going to be writing about doctors and some serious ailments, I would research and read about those ones, get my base, write a lot in my pad and kick off.
How long? Hmmm, well, especially because I write series, I have different compartments of the stories so my research starts from the pre-writing level to the end of the writing.
MARY: What’s the most difficult thing about writing?
LIZZY: For me, editing! Oh my! I get so bored editing my work that I simply push the work to someone else most often.
MARY: What’s the best way to market your books?
LIZZY: My blog has some thousands of subscribers so that is a very good medium. My social media accounts have been very useful too. Then, physical marketing has helped a lot. I lack the skills but the Lord has blessed me with a few people that have serious marketing skills. What of referrals? The Lord has blessed me with some people who believe in me- they would literally take it upon themselves to sell me! The Lord bless them all!
MARY: Amen. How many hours a day do you write?
LIZZY: Erm…I have become lazy in recent times as so many responsibilities shoot out…haha…God is helping me though. In actual fact, God has some beautiful things He is bringing out through De-Raconteur and Mrs. Yaks very soon. Watch out!
But the average time I spend writing on a normal day is four hours.
MARY: Are you a full time writer? If yes, how long were you a part-time writer before you became a full-time one?
LIZZY: I am attaining the full time writer/blogger thing this year by God’s Grace even though I have some beautiful dreams for teaching in the future. (If the Lord permits) I have been a part-timer since 2016.
MARY: How do you select the names of your characters?
LIZZY: Mary oooooo! Haha… Okay, well, sometimes I am inspired (For example, Talitha Cumi!); sometimes I need names peculiar to some cultures, so I would research; sometimes I just use whatever comes to my mind.
MARY: What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenage, young adult)
LIZZY: All round! In fact, the future even! Haha
MARY: Do you Google yourself?
LIZZY: Oh my! This lady has planned to open my bum to the world o…haha. Well, I do. In actual fact, I do. Now, I’m shy. Haha. But sincerely, it feels so good to see the Work of the Lord prospering in one’s hands.
Every day, my WordPress even shows me the keywords used by people searching for my stories online. It’s amazing.
MARY: Do you believe in writer’s block?
LIZZY: There’s no such thing as writer’s block: If you’ve got something to say, nothing can block you from getting those words on paper- so says a writer sometimes back and I support that, especially when the source of your writing is the Holy Spirit. A writer must actually have an eagle’s eye, a writable mind and ears as sharp as a razor. There are so many ideas everywhere, everyday, even in a writer’s mind! Write it down! I don’t believe in writer’s block but I do believe that laziness, disinterest, fear, inferiority complex etc. can stop a writer from penning down some golden words, then he/she would call it writer’s block.
MARY: Who do you see as the audience for your book?
LIZZY: Everybody! I write for everybody. I sometimes write for parents, for lovers, for mums, for singles, for pastors, for the church, for students, for married people, for sinners and the saved etc.
MARY: What are the biggest challenges you face as a writer?
LIZZY: Time! Sometimes when I see the day coming to an end, I begin to tell God that ‘Father, 24 hours doesn’t seem to be enough per day anymore o’ Haha…I am telling you. As you begin to have more roles to play in life, the 24hours will seem too small but God’s Grace is sufficient.
MARY: What is your favorite Bible verse?
LIZZY: Oh my! That is like putting me in a spot o. Okay then, if I have to settle for one, it would be Hebrews 1:9 that says ‘Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity; therefore God, even thy God hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.’
The verse is talking about our Lord Jesus Christ. When I look at the words closely, I see REVELATION!
MARY: If you are to do something differently as a child or teenager to become a better writer as an adult, what would you do?
LIZZY: I would pray more, read more and write a page daily!
MARY: *winks* I wish I can just keep asking you questions oo. Thank you so much for this interview.
LIZZY: Mary, thank you so much for tasking my brain this hard o…haha. This wonderful interview will definitely be featured on my blog. Ehn, it cannot escape it. Haha. God bless you greatly. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I am very grateful.
MARY: Thank you sooo much ma’am for the privilege of having you here. Thank you so much for saying Yes to the Holy Spirit daily.
LIZZY: All the Glory be to the Lord Most High!
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