The Plague Of The Foreign Setting

by Vivian Nneka Nwajiaku

During my glory days as a teenage author of no less than twenty unpublished novels, I had a flock of mentees who wanted to write like me. Of course, I desperately needed a mentor myself because… well, I didn’t know the first thing about being an author. But I did know one thing—and only because my mother made me know it: my mentees and I were filling up pages with lies.

You see, there’s a difference between imagination and dishonesty. It’s imagination if you create a world that doesn’t exist or tell a story that never happened while making it clear that it never happened. It’s dishonesty when you deliberately mislead your readers with facts and figures that are neither facts and figures nor fiction. We were telling the stories of persons, animals and things in places we had never been to, and if you had asked us, we would have sworn that though the stories and characters were imaginary, the animals, places and things were real. If I had twenty stories, only one would be set in Nigeria.

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