BITTER PERCEPTIONS: BEHIND THE STORY

  1. Bitter Perceptions began as a Nollywood screenplay with the working title Diana Duru: The Last Fifteen Years. Unable to pitch the script to film producers, my project was abandoned for many years after my return to the UK.
  2. The idea came after recalling an old Prime People story on a man cursed by a woman charmed into his bed.
  3. Lynda Stephens’ appearance on Minaj TV’s Movies En Vogue ignited my passion for screenwriting. The University of Calabar Theatre Arts student claimed her original script was rewritten by professional writers before making the big screen; to ensure my own creation remained as intact as possible, I restricted each screen to no more than five pages.
  4. Diana Duru: The Last Fifteen Years received the novelisation treatment in 2017 after I became an avid reader of Dreamer’s Sanctuary, a fan fiction website dedicated to the Backstreet Boys, my favourite band. The site’s creator Julie Lewis is a Chicago-based teacher and published author who researches her characters intensively, giving each story a sense of realism. She’s inspired me a great deal, and I’ve since written a Backstreet Boys fanfic of my own! The whole novel contains several references to the band – the manager who swindles Jide’s band out of their earnings is based on Lou Pearlman. Can you spot the rest?
  5. BP’s heroine Doris Ezinne Duru was Diana Duru in the movie script. Her name is changed to the more common ‘Doris’ to make her relatable.
  6. The film version Jide Okoroafor came from a poverty-stricken background like the character in the novel, but also had a father and siblings, and lived in Port Harcourt rather than Aba. The story started with Diana and Jide dating in secondary school; both briefly fall out before Jide invites his girlfriend to his residence for a study session. You know the rest…
  7. The incident with the senior students who accuse Doris of cavorting for men outside the school premises happened in real life, except the author wasn’t withdrawn from the dorm.
  8. The school cafeteria scenario with Acne Boy and his chums was taken from the movie The Princess Diaries. Ironically, the Backstreet Boys’ “What Makes You Different Makes You Beautiful” can be heard in the background during this scene.
  9. BP runs from 2000 to 2015. In the Nollywood version the story begins in 1985 and ends in the new millennium.
  10. Ebonee Jade is a parody of real-life fashion designer Tiffany Amber.
  11. Harrison was a minor character in the screenplay who appeared in one scene; he briefly dates Diana in 1988 when they both attend the University of Port Harcourt. He is also based on a real-life ex-boyfriend.
  12. In the Nollywood version Rupert Duru works for First Bank of Nigeria, but is transferred to Lagos from Port Harcourt following his daughter’s secret ordeal at Jide’s. Diana remains in Port Harcourt to attend university, but moves to Lagos after graduation.
  13. Jide was also meant to work in a bank with Shirley’s father Hogan Bassey as his boss. As my previous work had already included several bankers, Bass Merchant Bank metamorphosed into Bass Communications.
  14. Bass Communications is loosely based on DBN, another channel which rose to prominence in Nigeria after obtaining the rights to broadcast the Olympic Games in 1984. BassNet is inspired by AiNet, AIT’s short-lived network service.
  15. Most of the fictional radio and TV staff are named after real-life media personalities. Charles Obot, Jide’s mentor at Bass FM, is a combination of Charles Silas and Christy Obot, two former presenters with NTA Uyo, and Coleman Igwe is a mix of Coleman Nworji and Lugard Igwe, both of IBC Owerri. Patricia Inyang and Sunday Udoh are named after two NTA Calabar newsreaders.
  16. Doris’ best friend Juliet Anyanwu was originally named Ifeoma. The film role was written with actress Juliet Ibeh in mind.
  17. Nigerian Hairways was an actual sitcom written for Galaxy TV in the early 00’s when the channel launched a new channel in Lagos and requested original scripts from budding writers. My hand-written work was submitted to a producer, never to be seen again. The Bass FM reception where Jide first meets Ekaette is modelled on Galaxy TV Lagos’ reception.
  18. The auditions and TV recordings were taken from my own personal experience with Nigerian TV, having auditioned to present the AIT music programme Zebra Crossing, but the job went to newcomers Lola and Kunle instead. No hard feelings – the duo are mentioned in Bitter Perceptions as TRI Awards nominees, but they both lose to Doris. Ha!
  19. In the screenplay Chief Bassey appears in one screen. In BP, he is only mentioned but never seen – this is to give him an fearsome God-like presence.
  20. Emeka Obasi is renamed ‘Mex Orlando’ in Bitter Perceptions to avoid confusion with the Nigerian Hairways character of the same name.
  21. Dr. Ernestine Julius-Njemanze’s appearance is based on an African-American artist married to a critically-acclaimed Nigerian singer. Name withheld. Clue: It’s not Diane Oputa!
  22. Doris’ Aunt Bernadette is a combination of the mother figures who partially raised me in London before my family’s move to Nigeria. Her nationality is never mentioned but she’s written as Irish, hence her children’s names: Marie, Kevin, Anna, and Alphonsus, common names in Ireland. Aunt Bernadette’s name is taken from an Irish friend of the writer.
  23. The hospital Doris completes her residency with, New Aggrey, is a combination of the two hospitals my family registered with in Nigeria: NEW Era Hospital Aba and AGGREY Hospital Port Harcourt.
  24. Doris’ VVF patient Mirabel Shehu is named after Nigeria’s rape crisis charity The Mirabel Centre.
  25. Mr. Nnadi is based on two real-life teachers. One was a dwarf, one was a paedophile, both were evil dictators.
  26. The charge nurse who introduces Doris to Cherry Blossoms is based on a real-life Aba-based nurse also named Justina Charles, a rare gem who showed great dedication to her profession. The character is a tribute to all underrated nurses who work round the clock without proper recognition.
  27. Jide’s son Isaac was originally written as a daughter named Rebecca in the screenplay’s first draft. Towards the end of the story she is abused to death by armed robbers/paedo rapists during an invasion of the family home, but this graphic scene was deleted for obvious reasons. After Rebecca became Isaac, Doris – then known as Diana – treats Jide’s son after the latter is rushed to hospital during a ‘crisis’, but this sickle cell scenario has appeared in various Nollywood stories. Towards the end she adopts him, but in the novel Doris and Isaac never meet.
  28. If you guessed Chidiebere James and Bayo Olumide are loosely based on Travis Stork and Andrew Ordon, thumbs up! For Dr. Chidiebere I also drew inspiration from former Mr. Guadeloupe Emmanuel Binga, Guinness man Michael Power, and Dr. Ben Martin from 80s Christian soap opera Another Life. The TV show The Doctors did not exist in the screenplay. His original name is Steve, but this is changed to add more Nigerian names. Unlike Chidiebere James, Steve was shorter than Diana with no scars, and had attended secondary school with Diana and Jide before loosing contact.
  29. The chapter with screaming fans at Doris’ first recording of The Doctors is inspired by an early appearance of 80’s pop group New Kids on the Block on Oprah – the video can be found on YouTube. Even the host showed signs of irritation halfway through the interview!
  30. The character Dr. Zainab Saheed is inspired by veteran NTA News star Hauwa Baba-Ahmed. In the screenplay she only appears in one scene.
  31. Juliet son Lucas is named after the kid from the React Channel; his original name was Max.
  32. Andrew Amadi was originally written as a nice guy who truly loves Doris, but his wife in America refuses to grant him a divorce. His personality was changed in the book to give the story more grit.
  33. Mex Orlando disrupts the Duru’s Christmas feast with his father, the bishop of their diocese. In the screenplay, Mex is a newly-ordained reverend who visits Doris at her parent’s Owerri home after her breakup with Andrew.
  34. Anna Duru’s appearance and attitude is at least 60% Swedish singer Neneh Cherry, albeit with 90’s Mel B’s hair and components of pageant veteran Ibinabo Fiberesima. Anna was written into the novel for comedic effect, and to explore the subject of jealousy.
  35. Actors considered for roles in Diana Duru: The Last Fifteen Years include Hilda Dokubo and Joke Silva (Clara Duru); Zack Orji and Olu Jacobs (Rupert Duru); Emeka Ike, Ernest Asuzu, and Ramsey Nouah (Emeka ‘Mex Orlando’ Obasi); Juliet Ibeh and Victoria Inyama (Juliet Ibeh); Pat Attah and Ernest Obi (Fred Duru); Alex Osifo (Hogan Bassey); Sandra Achums and Obot Etuk (Shirley Bassey); and Charles Okafor (Andrew Amadi).
  36. Characters created for the novel include Anna, Kevin, Uncle Robin, Aunt Bernadette, Etim, Ekaette, Charles, Yetunde, Remi, Mirabel, and Dr. Julius. The roles of Diana and Jide were written for unknown actors.
  37. BP nearly found a permanent spot on the scrapheap after a Nigerian writer’s blog gave the first part negative reviews (“The first book has no plot direction…The dialogue is cringe worthy at worst and pedestrian at best…The Miss Goody-Two-Shoes act became boring after a while, [and] irritating…[Jide] obviously can’t hate [Doris] just because she’s rich…”). Boo hoo. The musical Les Misérables received poor reviews over thirty years ago. Enough said.

Bitter Perceptions, out now on Okada Books.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s