Some of the world’s best novelists are Ghanaians. The likes of Ama Ata Aido, Ayi Kwei Armah, Kofi Awoonor and Peggy Oppong have inspired and impacted the lives a lot of people through their novels.
New generation of Ghanaian novelists are springing up with amazing writing skills, and N.O. Bekoe, currently based in the UK, is one of them.
Born, Richard Okotwere Bekoe, he writes romance and thriller novels under the pen name of Nana Okotwere Bekoe (N.O. Bekoe).
N.O. Bekoe has so far written two novels – Amore and Haywire – and is currently working on his third, titled Urgency.
N.O. Bekoe attended the University Practice Senior High School, Cape Coast, where he started off as an Agricultural Science student before switching to the General Arts class where he studied Liteature in English as an elective subject.
“It was there [the General Arts class] I found my reading mojo,” he told Kuulpeeps. “Frankly speaking, I never liked reading. One of the first novels I completed reading was The Courage To Say No, a pacesetter.”
After completing his senior high school education, he gained admission to the University of Ghana and was offered English, Psychology, and Kiswahili, as courses.
“The joy of knowing I had been offered English was huge,” he said. “With English, I read even the more; many African classics and all the big names in African literature and Africa in the diaspora. Dambudzo Merachera for example.”
As someone who had not penned down a word of fiction before, N.O. Bekoe recalls that it was in his second-year at the university that he started to have the urge to write.
“I could not stop thinking about a storyline, or a storyline would not stop bothering me in thoughts.”
“Initially, it came to mind few times a day… as the semester went on, the intensity of this storyline increased in mind; I would spend some time lost in mind about scenes of this storyline only to return to myself to realise I had lost the last ten to fifteen minutes of an ongoing lecture.”
“It became stronger and unbearable as time went on. It was as though a muse had connived with some forces in the universe to haunt me till I put the scenes in memory to paper.”
“So one day, after one boring lecture, I placed my laptop in front of me and began putting the scenes that had been bothering me in mind into words. There, I noticed something; each scene I wrote down slowly faded in intensity in my mind. It was here I realised that I had to write the whole storyline. I had finally come to know what my calling was and how my muse worked,” he recounted.
N.O. Bekoe writes fiction but loves using real world settings. According to him, he sees this as a blend of fiction and non fiction. “So inasmuch as the storyline is made-up, readers can visit where it took place. It is like watching Disney cartoons and visiting Disneyland, it gives you the goosebumps.”
In his first novel, Amore, which consists of three short romance novelettes, the setting was predominantly Ghana, in areas like East Legon and Cape Coast.
In his second novel and first thriller, Haywire, his setting was the European Centre for Space Applications and Telecommunications (ECSAT) in England, Cairo in Egypt, Nairobi in Kenya and a pinch of Nigeria and Ghana, all of which can be visited in real life.
“With a real life setting, so long as the place exists, the novel never dies as well,” he stated.
“I am not the type of writer who will sit quietly and consciously make up a storyline from the scratch; as in the genre, number of characters, start and ending of novel… no, for me the storyline is cooked up in my subconscious, when it is ready, it is brought up to my consciousness where it is written down in a sentence or two, after which it is worked upon. Haywire began with a some three sentences and ended with nearly 500 pages upon publication.”
Haywire was published in the last quarter of 2020, and just over six months after publication, it is getting great reviews on various book platforms inclduing Amazon, Kobo and Booktopia. It also got featured in the 2021 New York Times Book Review Magazine.
Haywire is about a long-forgotten ancient brotherhood/secret society believed to have gone extinct but were still around and were bidding their time patiently for the right moment. The brotherhood knew about an end time event that today’s technology could not predict, and had infiltrated a space agency just to be on the alert should a sign rear its head.
“Haywire is an eye-opener to me, a breath of fresh air to the mind’s lungs of any reader, and a lid opener that will start a chain of thoughts that transforms for the better,” he said about what the novel means to him.
“Haywire can be found on many book retail platforms in the United States, U.K., Europe, Asia, and Australia. The only African publisher that currently sells Haywire is Kalahari books South Africa, given the shortage in most parts of Africa, efforts are underway with some book retailers like EPP West Africa and other popular book retailers in West Africa.” he added.
N. O. Bekoe also indicated that loves to include his readers in his novels. Explaining this, he said: “in the sense that if a man stabs a woman multiple time and flees in the first scene of his novel, the woman miraculously survives, and in the last scene the woman, with a loaded gun, finds herself alone with the same man”
“I will rather, or mostly end the novel when the woman hasn’t acted or taken a decision yet, this way, a reader, after reading, knowing, and understanding the man’s motive for the multiple stabs in the first scene might wish the woman doesn’t avenge the deed.”
“Other readers, too, based on what happened in-between the first and the last scene might wish the woman kills the man. Readers wishing for their ideal end of a story is N.O. Bekoe’s way of writing his novels with the pens of his readers,” he added.
N.O. Bekor further indicated that a lot of research goes into his work. He likes his novels to be as informative and educative as possible, as changing of mindsets is one of his ultimate aim of writing.
“For example, the second novelette in my first novel Amore highlights the issues surrounding marriage between a Muslim and a Christian, which in many parts of the world is a no-no thing. However, if the Quran preaches love and the Bible also preaches love, why then is marriage between a Muslim and a Christian a problem to the families? Preaching and not practising what one preached is the basic definition of hypocrisy,” he explained.
“At a point in my second novel Haywire, comparison is made between modern technology and the old ways of doing things; today, we are spoilt for choice when it comes to cutting edge technology, however the average lifespan across the world keeps on dropping drastically, our ancestors who lived during the dawn of creation or undocumented past lived up to 130 and 125 years before passing on. Explanation; old doesn’t mean it should be neglected. It harks back to how the long-forgotten ancient brotherhood could foretell events of today in Haywire while the numerous modern day technology watches idly.”
N.O. Bekoe, however, wants to continue writing on issues happening in the world, hoping that the ideas and themes in his novels will be picked up by readers and eventually be acted upon to bring the ideas to reality.
“Writing to change the train of thoughts of one’s readership takes time, especially in a world where everyone follows what appears to be the norm, that is why I am constantly writing so that eventually or when I am no more my work will live on, perhaps not in books but in new ways of thoughts, ideas, life, relationship with others, decision making, and so on.”
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