The Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation has, over time, sought to make an intentional departure from writing literature for children to literature written by children themselves. The Hill-Top Arts Center, situated at the Hilltop Model School, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria serves as a haven for mentoring prospecting Teen Authors on their selective genre. Thus, it is here that the journey to be published begins. This has been going on since 1997.
The general philosophy is mentoring in every aspect of a child’s stay at the Art Centre is induced with participatory activism in the process of their getting published. Therefore, the highly interactive sessions between the mentor and the mentee do not end with face-to-face sessions or online mentoring as well as attending big and small literary events around the country but, mentees are regularly involved in the process of book production at the press. So, the teen author whose book is being published gets wholesome knowledge not just about writing but publishing. This is the 21st-century writer, the Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation is producing at her mentoring facility in Minna.
The Authors bring their scripts to the Center and are featured in a monthly Teen Authors Flash; a session that features a mentor (volunteers who have already published writers) and a mentee (the teen author that has completed his/her script) and other members of the Center for a critique session. It is a teen author guest writer session. The script is then subjected to a very rigorous and intellectual discourse by members of the panel and the audience. The script is further shared among themselves for further criticism later until the mentor certifies the book is ready for publication.
After this, the Foundation seeks a sponsor who will donate money for publishing the book. After a sponsor has been acquired by the Foundation for the certified script, it is then forwarded to the publisher. Hon. Mikail A. Bmitosahi, Prof. Faruk R. Haruna, Teresa O. Ameh, Prof. Maiturare, Engr. Yahaya D. Dauda, Isu Media Abuja, and Dr Abubakar Dzukogi were those who sponsored the 10 teen books published in 2016.
Polarsphere Books, Minna; a subsidiary of Polarsphere Media Limited is the publisher of the Hill-Top Creative Arts Foundation Teen Authors Series. A total of eleven books were published in 2016. The books were presented publicly on 23rd April 2017 during the recently concluded Nigerian Festival of Teen Authors (NIFESTEENA) to mark the World Book Day celebration in Minna.
The published books include Mustapha Gimba-Memoirs of a broken heart, Fidelis Obaseki- Chronicles, Victor Ugwu-Rhythms, Peter Kwange- Deflowered, Priscilla Adesina- The after party, Anas Dubanni- Whispers in the Shadow, Khadijah Sa’eed Jagaba- My virgin eyes, Zakiyyah M. Dzukogi- My book of poems, Miracle Attah- Inside my pain, Yusuf BM- Brittle Songs, Amina Umar – The Deliquent’s Harvest.
The prospective authors are invited to Polarsphere Media Limited with soft copies of their works with the permission of parents or guardians. Together with our team, the script is further subjected to editing, the cover concept is designed with input from the teen author or they outrightly take photographs of what they want on the cover. The teen painters in the house also do some sketches for some books. Peter Kwange, Mizpah Osy, Zainab Dzukogi, Sagir Saleh and Awwal Sakiwa who is their Directors illustrate the cover or shoot pictures for the covers. After the preliminary pages of the book are laid, the blubs are written by themselves or the mentors and after a final check, the book is ready to go to press. All these processes are done together with the author.
The process, usually spread over months has also succeeded in creating a community of student-writers that are linked and united by their books. Remember, they are coming from different homes, tribes and states across Nigeria.
At the press (Leowealth Nigeria Limited), the teen authors are also put through the rudiments of printing; the final laying, graphic design, editing, filming, plating, printing, sorting, binding, cutting and trimming.
The journey to teen authorship book, though rigorous and sometimes frustrating, is a worthwhile, memorable and interesting experience for the mentor, the mentee, and other participants.
The cumbersome nature of this volunteer work is usually melted by the excitement of a new book by a teen author and their parents as well as their teachers, and the shock sent to adults within the community once they realise that a child has written a book.