It's been a very long time since I've done an interview on the blog. When I saw that Amaka Azie had released her third book, Starting Over Again, I got curious about her and her stories. Only an
interrogation interview would appease me. I hope you enjoy getting to know Ms. Azie as much as I did.
In my secondary school in Eastern Nigeria, students frequently fetched water for daily use from a spring situated in a deserted forest. We usually went in groups because there were loads of snakes and scary reptiles located in that forest. One night, I discovered I had no water to use the next morning to have a bath. Nobody wanted to go down there with me at night, so I took my bucket in one hand and a flashlight in the other, and braved going to that forest alone in the dark. Although I was scared as hell, I was strangely excited. With my adrenaline pumping full speed, I raced through the dense forest to the spring, filled the bucket and raced back up. I didn’t realise how frightened I was until I found myself back within the school compound. I almost fainted with relief. But it made me realise I could do anything I put my mind to.
What made you decide to be a writer?
I have always enjoyed books, literature and poems. I can’t count how many times I got into trouble for missing family activities like dinner when I was younger, because I was engrossed reading one book or the other. In secondary school, I wrote many short stories that I passed around to my classmates. They queued up to read my short stories, and sometimes got into arguments about who was next on the queue. In fact, one morning during English class, my teacher, Mrs Iyang, caught a classmate of mine reading one of my stories and seized it. I thought I was in trouble when she called me into the staff room but she simply told me she read and enjoyed it, and that I should consider becoming a writer. I kept ruminating about writing until I met another Nigerian author on Facebook who encouraged me to publish. I’m glad I took that bold step
Why do you write romance?
Oh, I love the concept of love. The excitement of meeting someone new, the emotions of trepidation and anxiety about relationships, advice from friends, challenges relationships bring, fights and break ups to make ups. No matter our previous bad experiences with love and relationships, we keep searching for it. I find it fascinating that more than half of my adult conversations are dominated by relationship drama. I love it! It’s no wonder I gravitated towards the romance genre. Love literally makes the world go round!
You have three books released and they are all set in Nigeria. Why did you decide to use Africa as your setting?
I was born in Western Nigeria, West Africa, and grew up in different parts of Nigeria. When I was a teenager, I actively searched for romance novels with African characters and found few. It was frustrating. I settled for romance novels with non-African characters, and that made me unhappy about the lack of diversity.
Any time I came across romance novels with African characters, I would go crazy and buy as many of those books in excitement. Helen Ovbiagele was one of the authors who pioneered those novels. When I came across other authors like Kiru Taye, my excitement tripled. I wanted to be a part of filling that void. Writing about a vibrant and exciting Africa that is rarely portrayed in the media. A Nigeria/Africa that I experienced, where education, wealth, love and family exists.
What made you decide to go the self-published route?
Unfortunately, there are few publishers that cater to the African romance genre. Apart from Ankara Press, most publishers won’t take a risk on romance novels set in Africa. I was turned down from the outset, or told I had to change a few things. When I realised I wanted to share my story the way it was, not water it down, or make it more “sorrowful” to portray the “African suffering”, I decided to self-publish. I wanted full control of my story, including the packaging and book covers. I have seen book covers made to look outrageous because it is an African book. For example, the idea that a book cover with an animal, a lion or an elephant or a monkey on it would authenticate it as African. I find that not only ridiculous, but insulting.
I’m glad I self-published and took control of what I wanted to put out there. So far, I have gotten good feedback from readers. One reader, an English lady, contacted me on twitter after reading Thorns and Roses. She told me she was so glad to read about a lovely side to Nigeria for a change. It made me very pleased.
What do you find most fascinating thing about writing?
The fact that I can create a story from my imagination, and get others to experience it with me, is extremely brilliant. I love creating a world and sharing that world with others so they can see it the way I created it. When I hear from a reader who not only experienced my creation the way I intended it, but also enjoyed my story, it makes it even more worthwhile.
I’ve seen you singing on social media with your daughters. What do they think of you being an author?
My daughters love to encourage me. They keep asking, “mum, how many words have you written today?” They are still very young, and so, not yet old enough to read my books. I look forward to when they can share their thoughts about my stories.
What advice would you give to someone who wants to be a writer?
Simply to write. You can talk about it for ages, but until you do it, you never actually achieve the goal. Another is that writing should be a passion about sharing stories. Your story may cause people to laugh, cry, or have serious conversations. People may love your story, or hate it tremendously, but the most important thing is to share your story with passion. It’s a calling that a true writer can’t resist for long.
Amaka Azie was born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa. She developed a passion for reading at the age of twelve. Her interest in writing began in secondary school when she joined the press club and her active imagination has captured the interests of many. With multiple stories in her head, she has finally decided to publish. Amaka currently resides on the Wirral peninsula in North West England with her husband and two daughters, where she also works part time as a family doctor. Apart from reading and writing, she enjoys watching crime TV shows, painting and travelling.
You can interact with Amaka Azie via:
Abandoned by her husband and left to care for a sick child, Onome is desperate to find a job. After several failed attempts, she eventually lands a job at one of the most prestigious banks in Lagos. She is finally rebuilding her life after her divorce and everything seems to be falling into place. However, she finds herself irresistibly drawn to her new boss, Nnamdi, who is also notoriously known for his womanising ways. Desperate to fight this attraction, she struggles to keep him at arm’s length. She can’t afford to let her growing attraction to him jeopardise her job, and most importantly, her heart…
Scorched by the burden of a scandalous family secret he stumbled upon when he was a young boy, single father Nnamdi, finds it hard to trust women. He has always lived his life lightly, with his relationships free from deep emotions and entanglements. To protect himself from hurt, he has built a wall around his heart. But there is something about his new executive marketing assistant, Onome, that makes him consider a future with her. The more time he spends with her and her daughter, Fejiro, the more the wall around his heart crumbles. And just as he is beginning to warm up to the idea of forever, her ex-husband resurfaces…
Amazon uk: http://bit.ly/StatingOverAgainAmazonUK
Amazon Us: http://bit.ly/StartingOverAgainAmazonUS
Barnes and Noble: http://bit.ly/StartingoverAgainBarnesandNoble
Onome heard a soft knock on her hotel room door causing her heart to jump. Her eyes flickered to the clock on the wall. It was seven p.m. She knew it had to be Nnamdi. He was here to tell her whether they got the account or not. Her pulse quickened as she moved from the bed to open the door. Nnamdi was leaning against the doorframe, looking virile in a brown muscle-hugging shirt, a pair of black jeans trousers and white Nike trainers on his feet. His thick curly hair glistened with moisture as if he had just stepped out of the shower. A subtle citrus aroma most likely from a bath gel assuaged her senses.
“Can I come in?” he asked in a relaxed tone. Onome stepped away from the door, holding her breath as his tall frame strutted into her room.
“Did we get the account?” Onome asked nervously, scrubbing her sweaty palms over her bright green cotton shorts. He hesitated, his facial expression serious. Onome’s heart sank. She had let him down, let the bank down. Her stomach knotted with trepidation. “We… we didn’t get it?” she mumbled hesitantly. His lips twitched momentarily, then cracked into a disarming smile.
“Congrats, Onome, you have brought in your first account.”
“Oh my God!” Onome exclaimed, jumping in delight. “I have been so anxious, oh my God!” He opened his arms. Without a thought, she ran into his outstretched arms, wrapping her arms around him. He lifted her, twirled her around briefly before gradually lowering her on her feet.
“I’m so proud of you, Onome.” His deep baritone resonated within her.
“Thank you for letting me do this. I have actually missed doing this, hustling for accounts.” They stood that way, locked in each other’s arms as moments ticked by, neither of them making any move to break the connection. Slowly, the atmosphere between them shifted from elation to sensual awareness. Their eyes locked. His brown eyes, darkened now, dipped to her lips.
“I’m going to kiss you,” he murmured. He sounded as if he was warning her, giving her a chance to back away from him. Onome had no such desire. She had dreamt of kissing him countless times, been consumed with the desire to feel his full lips glide over hers, spent nights wondering if he kissed softly and sweetly or if he plunged in, hard and rough, taking, demanding—
Before she could complete that trend of thought, his mouth descended on hers.