ON the 15th of December, Ankara Press released six sizzling romance novels. My debut novel, Finding Love Again
, was one of them. Ola Awonubi's Love's Persuasion
is another beautiful romance in the Ankara Series.
I spoke to Ola Awonubi about her intriguing romance novel
and other things.
Ola Awonubi was born in London to Nigerian parents and raised
in Nigeria. On returning to England, she went on to spend three years
taking intermediate and advanced writing courses at the Centerprise
Literature Development project in Hackney before studying for an MA in
Creative writing and Imaginative Practice at the University of East
In 2008 and 2009 respectively, she won two prizes; one for the short
story ‘The Pink House’ in the National Words of Colour competition, the
other, ‘The Go-Slow Journey’ for the Wasafiri New Writing Prize in the
CWN: Tell us a bit about what inspired you to be a writer?
OA: I have
always had a vivid imagination and used to make up stories in my head when I was
a kid. I remember being about five years old when I used take my Ladybird and
Enid Bryton books and write short stories around them with black characters. I
have always loved writing and when I was in secondary school – English
literature was my favourite subject and I would end up reading more of the
African Writers Series or books from the ‘Pacesetters ‘series than my Biology
or Physics books!
What inspired you to write this book?
OA: A wide range
of themes really. I would say I try to write about Universal themes really
things that people anywhere in the world can identify with. Family, love, relationships
are a particular interest. Loves Persuasion reminded me of when I was growing
up as a teenager in Nigeria and watching how society framed and set the
parameter of many women’s lives and I wanted to create a young lady who wanted
more than what society dictated she should be content with.
you a full time writer or is writing just one of your hobbies?
OA: I work full
time and I write in whatever is left of that time! Writing has gone beyond a
hobby for me. I try to write whenever I can.
can your book be purchased?
are your favourite authors and what book are you reading at the moment
OA: Chinua Achebe,
Cyprian Ekwensi, Buchi Emecheta, Doris Lessing, Jane Austen and Francine
I am currently
reading – The boy next door by Irene
Sabatini – it is a coming of age story in post-independence Zimbabwe.
did you enjoy most about writing this novel?
OA: Seeing the
characters develop and take shape -listen to them in my head and write the words
I think they would say.
are your current projects, any other book coming soon?
OA: I am
currently working on a collection of short stories based on the African experience
as well as another romantic novel based in Nigeria. I always look out for short
story competitions I can submit my entries to such as Bridport, Mslexia, Short
Story prize and the Commonwealth writers prize to mention a few.
working on a world war 2 period romance and would love to write a screenplay
one day. I like would like to write a period drama one day – Downtown Abbey and
war movies like Atonement are favourites.
is your take on the poor reading culture in Nigeria? In your opinion, what do
you think can be done to change it?
growing up in Nigeria and books like Pacesetters, Mills and Boons, James Hadley
Chase and Danielle Steele were widely read. Libraries were probably better
stocked than they are now and if you could afford to buy a new book you got it second-hand
or exchanged with friends.
think there is a poor reading culture – I think that with the emphasis on
getting jobs which is quite understandable – reading for pleasure has been
relegated and people spend their hard earned money on text books and
educational material to better their chances in the over-saturated employment
I don’t think we have lost our love of reading
– it is just that people are being more practical.
This is why
Ankara needs to be applauded for producing books that can be read on different
mediums, cost less than books and open up reading for everyone - stopping it
from becoming an elitist preserve.
you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
OA: Buchi Emecheta.
you have any advice for other aspiring writers?
the senses six senses when you write. Make the reader smell, taste and see as
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.
add too many characters and the few you have - make memorable.
and don't tell
your beginning make me sit up and want to keep on reading.
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.
the internet. It is your friend – a great resource and you have the opportunity
to showcase yourself to the world.
CWN: What genre of music and movies is your favourite? And do they inspire
OA Gospel and R & B. I like Yolanda Adams and Stevie Wonder.
Movies – legal TV dramas and movies, romantic films, old movies – I was
watching the Count of Montecristo the other day. I watched The Best Man and Why did I
get married by Tyler Perry. I like
movies about life and relationships and I guess that feeds into my writing.
Ola Awonubi's first novel was published by Ankara Press. Love's Persuasion can be found HERE.
Nubi on twitter via @createandwrite.