Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Author Speaks with Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam

This is the fifth in a series of interviews with Ankara Press authors. You can read the first four herehere, here and here.
Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam
In 2010,Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam attended the Farafina Trust Creative Writing workshop. She has also attended the Nigerian Academy of Letters creative writing workshop(2011) and the Fidelity Bank International Workshop(2011). Chioma lives with her family in the old, quiet hilly town of Enugu.
More than ever, she has been considered a huge romantic since the publication of Finding Love Again, her first novel with Ankara Press. She loves philosophy and logic and critical reasoning—a love that might have arisen from having studied Mathematics and Computer Science for five years.

AA: Tell me about your journey to publication with Ankara Press.
CI-I: It has been a long journey. I use the word long advisedly because I believe this journey started years ago, when I started writing. But I’ll do my best to shorten the long story about how I came to publish my first romance novel.
Once I finished the novella, I sent one chapter each week to members of my online critique group (Internet Writing Workshop Lovestory list). Their critiques helped me rewrite the initial draft. Then I sent a query letter, a synopsis and the first three chapters of the novella to two of the most prominent Nigerian publishing houses. I knew they were searching for romance fiction. One of the Cassava republic editors contacted me and asked for the rest of the manuscript. A few weeks later, she emailed and suggested a rewrite which I completed in a month. I applaud her for her persistence and her encouraging emails. Without her support, I might have given up on this project. After some time, she sent me a contract agreement which I signed and voila! I had found a home for my baby book.

AA: I find it interesting that you describe the book as a baby. Was it like one to you?
CI-I: (Smiles) Very much like a baby.

AA: How long did it take to write this novel?
C I-I: The first draft took about a month. The second draft took another month and the rewrite took a third month.

AA: Was there a difference in the writing process for this novel and other fiction projects you worked on in the past?
C I-I: Yes. There was a big difference in the writing process. Different genres have different rules. Rules about points of view, style, voice etc. When writing romance, I had to consciously ensure that I was not employing flowery language in the storytelling.

AA: You also write short fiction, how do you decide if an idea becomes a short story or a novel?
CI-I: It depends. Sometimes, I allow the story tell itself. But other times, I consider what structure works best for the story I want to tell.That said, my novels are a series of stories. And these stories are there to make the characters well rounded.

AA: With Kambi and Beba, I got the feeling that love is not always about meeting  the right person for you, it is also about timing. Could you say a bit more about this?
CI-I: I am not an expert. But experience has taught me that love is quite complicated. It’s a layered thing, hardly in our power to control. And yes, it is mostly about timing. The ‘when factor’ plays a huge role in the success of a romance.

AA: Kambi often thinks of how to mine situations, even the most intimate ones for material to use for her poetry. Do you do this too?
CI-I: All the time. I am always looking for material, even in my dreams.

AA: What are you working on right now?
CI-I: Another romance. To be precise, book with a mix of romance and suspense.

Buy Finding Love Again here. Follow Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam on twitter via @ChiomaIwunze .

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