Thursday, April 16, 2015

The Author Speaks with Sifa Asani Gowon

This is the fourth in a series of interviews with Ankara Press authors. You can read the first three here, here and here.
Sifa Asani Gowon
Sifa, a self-proclaimed sappy romantic soul, enjoys writing love stories almost as much as she enjoys reading them...and she adores baking! She lives with her family in the city of Jos, a land of spectacular beauty, pleasant weather and the best vegetables you can find in Nigeria. A Taste of Love is her second novel.

AA: How long did it take to write this novel?
SAG: It took me a little over a month to complete the first draft, which was actually quite different from the finished copy. Editing the novel took a few months to do, with all the back and forth between myself and the editor.
AA: Tell me about your favourite romance novels.
SAG: My favourite romance novel of all time is As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers; a novel which includes action, history, geography and Christianity in one potent reading package. I also really like Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, Pearl in the Sand by Tessa Afshar, Harvest of Rubies by Tessa Afshar and Bridge to Haven by Francine Rivers. As you can see, my favourite kinds of romance always include far more to the story than just ‘boy meets girl’. I like it when I see characters develop in maturity, faith and knowledge and yes, in love.
AA: Do you like all the books in the Mark of the Lion trilogy? How much has it influenced your own writing? Are you interested in writing historical romance at some point in the future?
SAG: I love all the books in the trilogy but I am especially drawn to As Sure as the Dawn. In a way I see some of my characters bearing similar traits to the characters in that book. I’d say it was when I read it the first time that I was inspired to write a romance novel myself- which I did…but it never got to the editing stage. It was my first foray into writing and was quite an immature piece of work- but I still love it as my ‘writing baby’. I think I learned how to create full characters with flaws but with a certain ‘thing’ that makes them appealing. I learned not to shy away from real issues affecting people, even if they deal with such issues through faith. And I also learned a lot about dialogue from Francine Rivers.

AA: What is the best advice you’ve ever heard/read about writing?
SAG: I remember Chimamanda Adichie saying (I paraphrase) that when you are writing you should always have objective eyes look over your work (that’s where editors come in) but that you should also be able to discern the ‘spirit’ behind the voices that speak about your work. Basically, she was telling us that when it comes to criticism of your work, you ought to be able to separate constructive criticism that comes from a good heart from a critique that is driven by pettiness.
AA: You write so vividly about The Bar-Rage. Is this a real place in Jos?
SAG: There was a similar place in Jos that I modelled Bar-Rage after. I thought about using the name but couldn’t get hold of the owner to ask permission so…well, I went ahead and used my artistic licence to add and subtract a few things.
AA: I found the Hannani/ Adoo dynamic interesting. Why did you create the two women as lookalikes?
SAG: I thought it would be interesting to do that in order to add a little spice to the story. I’ve met a few people who have such a close resemblance to another person except for some features such as skin tone, or perhaps nose, eyes and such. Also, I notice that we tend to have a ‘type’ we normally find ourselves attracted to, and in this case Adoo and Hannani were similar enough to be Toby’s ‘type’ so to speak.
AA: What are you working on right now?
SAG: I’m actually trying my hand out at script writing and hope to get better at that. I recently finished a sequel to my book Playing by Her Rules but  I have not edited it yet. I’m not exactly sure as to the direction I will choose to go with that. I have a story that has been in my head for almost 5 years and I am hoping this will be the year it ‘comes out’.
Buy A Taste of Love here. Follow Sifa Asani Gowon on twitter via @sifushka .