It’s not every day a School Library gets to host a published author, so it was an especially huge deal when this author was our own fifth year student Ifunanya Ogochukwu. Some of us had heard snippets of Ifunanya’s writing before – she has been reading stories and small excerpts from her story to the school's Creative Writing group for two years – but nobody had seen or heard the finished piece, a novel for young people which she self-published this summer. It's called The Source, it's about two young people, their memories gone, with special powers and a hidden past. And it's brilliant. Ifunanya may only be fifteen years old, there is no doubt that she is a writer.
The Library was dark this lunchtime and students were spread out, as per social distancing rules. The event – billed as a Book Reading, but serving as the launch of Ifunanya’s debut novel – was a ticketed event. Students had applied for tickets via email, and the lucky attendees sat two metres apart at desks around the study hall. The event was run by an efficient team of Library Prefects, who looked after the guest list, the room layout and hygiene, the staging, media and electronics, as well as art and promotion.
As Ifunanya sat at the front of the Library on 3rd December, students from all years waited for her reading to start. Her parents and sister sat in the front row as guests of honour, and School Principal Ms Cameron introduced her with a speech congratulating Ifunanya and encouraging those around to see her an inspiration.
Before Ifunanya started reading, a short film began to play on the screen above her head. She had created this herself, as a trailer for The Source. When it finished, and after a small battle with a faulty microphone, she was introduced by the Librarian and opened her book to read.
‘The girl with no memories strolled through the forest...’
Ifunanya read on for ten minutes.
At the end of the first chapter, she had time for a few questions before students returned to class.
When did you start writing The Source?
I started writing this book about five years ago. That was in fifth class, when I was ten. It actually started out as a short story. There was a competition in school that we had every year – a short story competition. I entered this [The Source] but it was shorter. So, yeah, I won that [laughs]. That’s how it started.
What is the hardest part of writing a book?
The hardest part is to keep motivated, because some days you look at your work and you are like “wow, this is a masterpiece!” and then other days you kind of looked at it and you saw all the flaws and you couldn’t look at anything else. There are other days when I’m busy and I just couldn’t write. And there are other days when I’m just too lazy, you know.
Do you have any advice to offer anyone who loves writing and might be thinking about following in your footsteps?
The best advice that I can give you is that you can’t be a writer if you don’t read. That’s really big. I read a whole lot in primary school. I was the girl who would get out fourteen books in the library. Also, the second piece of advice is: you have to write. So, write often (but not too often if you’re busy – just for practice). Say you’re writing a long draft, it might be hard, because you want to make everything perfect. I’d say, just write ahead. You’re going to be able to edit it at the end.
And finally, are you working on anything else?
Well yes, this is actually the first book in a series. So there will be more.
We look forward to reading many more books from this talented young writer in the future.
The Source, self-published by Ifunanya C. Ogochukwu N., is available directly from the author or via Amazon.
A number of copies are available in the School Library. Email email@example.com to put your name on the reserve list.