Please welcome Suyi Davies Okungbowa to The Qwillery as part of the 2019 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. David Mogo, Godhunter was published on July 9, 2019 by Abaddon.
TQ: Welcome to The Qwillery. What is the first fiction piece that you remember writing?
SDO: Thanks! I think the first thing I remember writing was a retelling of some stories from the Christian Bible. I found some of them quite interesting, and wondered what it would be like to be a fly on the wall. So I rewrote a lot of the popular stories from the point-of-view of lesser characters: the owner of the donkey Jesus rode into Jerusalem on, the guy who owned the room where the last supper was held, etc. It was fun while it lasted, which wasn't very long.
TQ: Are you a plotter, a pantser or a hybrid?
SDO: Hybrid, or plantser. I tend to plot the big "waypoints" of a narrative and then write my way between waypoints. This gives me a loose structure to work with, but also the freedom to surprise myself.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
SDO: Finishing things, which I believe is a problem for many other writers too. There are always so many ideas to explore, so many directions to go in, so many things to say. Finishing something I'm working on is something learning to do now--it used to be so bad that I'd have lots of uncompleted drafts and not one complete story. But only writers who finish get published, so I'd say things are looking up now.
TQ: What has influenced / influences your writing?
SDO: My history, for one. Both that of the people from which I'm descended, as well as my experience as an African caught between the demands of tradition and modernity, of history and the future. Writing about existing in the middle is important to me--most of my characters are always caught between things. I'm also fascinated by What If questions within the context of the African continent.
TQ: Describe David Mogo, Godhunter using only 5 words.
SDO: Demigod sparks war in Lagos.
TQ: Tell us something about David Mogo, Godhunter that is not found in the book description.
SDO: There is a scene where characters watch an El Clasico football match between Barcelona and Real Madrid. It makes little sense that one would tell a whole tale about Nigerians and not feature football. It's almost impossible.
TQ: What inspired you to write David Mogo, Godhunter? What appeals to you about writing Urban Fantasy?
SDO: I never quite thought about writing Urban Fantasy when I wrote DMG. I only wanted to tell a story about someone caught between two parts of themselves, and that character, David Mogo, was born. I also wanted to explore at least one of Nigeria's many myths, legends and cosmologies, and being set in Lagos, the story yielded itself best to the Yoruba of the Nigerian west. However, yes I do write more contemporary fantasy than anything else, and the main reason is that I like to explore how the otherworldly interacts with the...worldly, and how people change and adapt in order for them to coexist.
TQ: What sort of research did you do for David Mogo, Godhunter?
SDO: Since I'm Nigerian, and grew up within proximity to the Yoruba-dominated west of Nigeria, I already knew about some of these deities, pantheons and myths. My own ethnic group also shares some history with the Yoruba. So, basically, it all started with first-hand experience. Then, I asked questions: talked to a few people who were well versed in Yoruba and Nigerian history. I left library and online research for last because, as I've learned over time, these are usually in danger of containing diluted versions, especially when written from a Western perspective. I was picky, but I sifted enough to find what I wanted.
TQ: Please tell us about the cover for David Mogo, Godhunter. Does it depict something from the novel?
SDO: The cover artist is Yoshi Yoshitani, and they're amazing! I think Yoshi just went with interpreting the vibes they got from the parts of the novel they read, and I'd say it captures the gritty nature of the tale itself. The meteor-like things falling from the sun likely represent The Falling, the event that brings the gods to Lagos in the first place--but you already knew that.
TQ: In David Mogo, Godhunter, who was the easiest character to write and why? The hardest and why?
SDO: The easiest was probably Eshu. In large parts of Yorubaland, Eshu is placed at par with the devil, which is clearly wrong. Eshu is closer to a trickster deity, like Loki or Puck, and subverting the common narrative to reflect this was easy. The most difficult was probably the god Ogun, who I changed up in so many ways that the character could've easily become unidentifiable. I had to ensure I kept the balance between what people expect from the god Ogun, and what role I wanted the character to perform in the book.
TQ: Does David Mogo, Godhunter touch on any social issues?
SDO: Migration was a big one for me: the mass arrival of the gods was to mimic the immigration into Lagos that has left the city overpopulated (probably the most populous in the world after 2050). Then, there's gentrification and political elitism, issues plaguing the city today, where the poor and severely affected are left to fend for themselves while choice spaces are reserved for the more affluent, something which also happens in its own way in the book. And lastly, colonization, with a faction of the gods trying to decide between integrating or conquering the "lesser beings" they have encountered.
TQ: Which question about David Mogo, Godhunter do you wish someone would ask? Ask it and answer it!
SDO: No one ever asks about the fictional Lagos State Paranormal Commission (LASPAC) which, if you know Lagos and its penchant for coming up with new government agencies every now and then, would feel right in place. (Heck, they might even have one right now!) In the book, they're tasked with dealing with the city's deity infestation, which they do a shitty job of, because that's the most Lagos way of things. I reckon it'll take an interviewer who's also a Lagosian to ask about the LASPAC, though.
TQ: Give us one or two of your favorite non-spoilery quotes from David Mogo, Godhunter.
SDO: Hmm. I'd say the first is: "The thought makes me shiver, and when a demigod shivers, you know what that means." The second will be: "He is perfect in every way, except for one tiny thing: he looks exactly like a mirage, like a mirror reflection without a subject. He is either an old man or a young boy, or both at the same time; it feels almost as if his identity is a choose-your-own-adventure game, where you decide what you're seeing."
TQ: What's next?
SDO: Well, my agent and I are working hard on my next thing, which at this point, I can only reveal is fantasy as well (but not urban fantasy) and also inspired by West Africa (but a different time). We're looking at possibly more than one book, but nothing is set in stone yet. You'll hear more as the days go by!
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
SDO: Thank you. Always a pleasure.
David Mogo, Godhunter
Abaddon, July 9, 2019
Trade Paperback and eBook, 360 pages
LAGOS WILL NOT BE DESTROYED
The gods have fallen to earth in their thousands, and chaos reigns.
Though broken and leaderless, the city endures.
David Mogo, demigod and godhunter, has one task: capture two of the most powerful gods in the city and deliver them to the wizard gangster
Suyi Davies Okungbowa is a Nigerian author of stories featuring African gods, starships, monsters, detectives and everything in-between. His godpunk novel, David Mogo, Godhunter, is out from Abaddon in July 2019. His internationally published fiction and nonfiction have appeared in Lightspeed,Fireside, Podcastle, The Dark, Mothership Zeta, Omenana, Ozy, Brick Moon Fiction and other periodicals and anthologies. He is an MFA candidate in Creative Writing at the University of Arizona, where he teaches writing, and has worked in editorial at Podcastle and Sonora Review. He tweets at @IAmSuyiDavies and is @suyidavies everywhere else. Learn more at suyidavies.com.