la Awonubi is a Nigerian author who has published three books, the most recent of which is the fantastically touching short story collection ‘Naija Love Stories’. I had the chance to meet and interview her and I’m excited to share her insights into self-publishing, her process as a writer, her reading tastes and more. Like and share this post and help me spread the word about Ola Awonubi and her wonderful books.
A: Tell us a bit about yourself, what’s your name, where do you live, what do you do for a living?
O: My name is Ola Awonubi. I live and work in London, England. I work full time as a Personal Assistant and write during my evenings and weekend.
A: How often do you write?
O: About 4 days a week for a few hours each day after work
A: Apart from your recent collection of short stories called ‘Naija Love Stories’, what else have you published?
O: My first book Love’s Persuasion was published by Ankara Press – the Romance imprint of Cassava Press, Abuja. Nigeria. The second book for the imprint – I love You Unconditionally was published in 2017.
A: What was the motivation behind writing ‘Naija Love Stories’?
O: Naija Love Stories is a collection of 12 tales exploring the complex and intoxicating emotions that all humans encounter in their lifetime. We all choose to love, and prioritise the thing we love differently in our lives – our family, possession, money and even power – but to what end? I was motivated to see what a book which takes you on a journey through the lives of characters all grappling with the different concepts of what it means to love and be loved – would look like.
A: ‘Naija Love Stories’ is your first self-published book, tell us a bit about the process of self-publishing.
O: You work on your project and do some research about who you want to use. I had heard about Conscious Dreams Publishing from a friend and did some research, checked their website and looked at their work and decided to go with them. They were very professional and their editor had great attention to detail and kept me updated every step of the journey till proofs arrived and then production.
A: What are the main difficulties about self-publishing your work?
O: Getting it into bookstores. Sometimes you have to work harder to be taken seriously and sometimes it can be seen as the poor relation to traditional publishing.
A: What would you say is the most challenging thing about being an African and female author?
O: I can’t say I have ever found being an African and female challenging in any way. I think it’s an advantage actually!
A: What is your favourite literary genre?
O: Contemporary fiction.
A: On average, how often do you read?
O: Not as often as I should. About 1-2 books a month.
A: Which book has influenced you the most?
O: Buchi Emecheta – Second class citizen
A: What would you like the world to know about Nigerians?
O: That we are hard-working, driven, ambitious, resilient and love to excel in any field we find ourselves
A: Who is your favourite African author (dead or alive)?
O: Buchi Emecheta.
A: What difficulties do you think African authors based on the continent are facing today?
O: Book Marketing and distribution networks.
A: How about African authors in the diaspora?
O: Most African authors in the diaspora have other jobs apart from writing. Sometimes more than one.
A: What would be your best advice for aspiring authors?
O: Engage the senses six senses when you write. Make the reader smell, taste and see as they read. A short story is a snapshot so you do not have the luxury to flesh out your characters or settings like a novel. Get to the point. Don’t add too many characters and the few you have – make memorable. Show and don’t tell. Make your beginning make me sit up and want to keep on reading. Make your ending make the story linger on in my head. Give it a punch. Think of one of the shortest stories ever told by Hemingway. Baby Shoes never worn. Wow. That tells such a story but it does have a beginning, a middle and an end. Write about something that you are passionate about. Use the internet. It is your friend – a great resource and you have the opportunity to showcase yourself to the world.
A: Jollof Rice or Coconut Rice?