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Interview with Ankara Press Authour, Chioma Iwunze-Ibiam

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BBR: When Did you begin writing and what growing up experience helped you realise you had a literary bent?

Chioma: I started writing before I clocked 10. I can’t say when exactly , but I know I wasn’t yet 10. I started with diary entries and letters. I wrote many diary entries as a catharsis, an outlet for my sorrows.

When I was twelve, going on thirteen, all the teachers in the state went on strike and so our junior WAEC exams had to be postponed. I wrote and completed a YA novel in my spare-time and found a book cover design for it. Although, that book never got published, I began to consider of myself a writer.

BBR: You surprisingly studied Mathematics and now you write? Do you somehow wish you pursued a literary career from the outset?

Chioma: Yes and No.Yes, because, perhaps I would have fared better. And no, because I believe everything happens for a reason. Who knows, perhaps, I might have found that it limited my life’s choices? My degree in Mathematics and Computer Science hasn’t limited my choices. I have worked as a journalist, a secretary, a cashier, an NGO volunteer, a computer repairs woman etc. Sometimes, I joke about having worked in almost every field. As Ernest Hemmingway said, “In order to write about life, first you must live it!” This is not to say one cannot live by pursuing a literary career from the outset. I’m talking about my own experience, and how I (as a writer) have been influenced by my peregrinations.

BBR: How did you hear about the Ankara Press?

Chioma: From Osemhen Akhibi , my writer friend. Before then, someone had sent an email to everyone on a writers’ list I was on, but I hadn’t paid attention. Until Osemhen sent me the email.

BBR:What inspired your story, Finding Love Again?

Chioma: Once my colleague told me about a bride was left standing alone at the altar at a certain St. Peter’s Parish on Easter Monday. This made me imagine how she must have felt about her groom not showing up, and what she might do with her life afterwards. We had an interesting argument about who was right and who was wrong, and then returned to our work. But I couldn’t help wondering if she might open herself up to love again and how that might happen.

And then the Obudu Cattle Ranch scenery was another source of inspiration. The place was so beautiful, I couldn’t wait to set a romance novel there.

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BBR: Is Romance the only genre you are interested in?

Chioma: No. I like lit-fic a lot.   And a bit of sci-fi. But I am particularly interested in the short story form.

BBR: How do you find balance seeing you are a working wife and mother? How do you unwind?

Chioma: I live one day at a time. That’s my mantra. And when it gets too difficult, I try to take six hours at a time. Basically, I live in day-tight compartments and do the tasks in front of me so that what lies ahead can become clearer. I draft to-do lists if i have to: it helps me get my priorities right.

I unwind with a good book and a bowl of fruits. Or my husband and I go out to a nice restaurant, sit by the large windows, look out and just talk over a good meal.

BBR: What do you expect readers to take away from the story?

Chioma: That each person has enough strength, courage and wisdom to surmount every challenge life throws at you. And as cliché as it might sound, whenever one door shuts, ten more open.

(purchase Finding Love Again here: http://www.ankarapress.com/)

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