I think that those of us who are ordinary disappear easily into the backdrop of life and we take things for granted. We often wake up in our lives and wonder how we got there. But the characters I create, the people I am drawn to, are quite extraordinary (and not always in wholesome ways), and they offer us the chance to understand who we really are and how we became who we are.
If there was no risk, it wouldn't be art. It wouldn't be worth making. There is risk even in a fairy tale. Fiction is closest to pure narrative, and pure narrative is simply the logic we try to impose on an ever-changing reality.
Fire and Water are archetypes, the split sides of consciousness; one aware, the other, not. The two parts of us that desire synthesis, yet resist it: the self and the shadow. But they are also the element of chance, of the random roll of dice.
The greatest thing about form and convention is that it saves you from having to reinvent the wheel. Now, whether you mount the wheel to a horse carriage or a Formula One racing car, make it plain or give it spinning rims, those are all craft decisions. But the fact of the wheel remains: it will turn if you set it down. That's what I mean about the beauty of the gifts genre can offer.
All my characters exist in risk, in the places we are either too afraid to go to, or have enough privilege not to have to, but whatever the reason, these characters I fashion go before us and come back transformed for us. For me, at least.
My mom taught me to read when I was two or three. When I was five I read and wrote well enough to do my nine-year older brother's homework in exchange for chocolate or cigarettes. By the time I was 10, I was reading Orwell, Tolstoy's War and Peace, and the Koran. I was reading comic books too.
All power within the microcosm of my world was held and wielded by people who look like me. Plus, I think Nigerians all have this sense that they are better than everyone, including white people. So I have the privilege of a certain distance. It may just be that. So in a sense, I can't claim that as any ability that I have, simply a matter of circumstance.