Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Author Interview with Unoma Nwankwor

LaToya: Hi Unoma, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
UnomaHi everyone, I’m Unoma, a wife, mom and an author and I write Christian fiction under the romance sub-genre. I was born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents, and spent my childhood and early adulthood years in Port-Harcourt, Nigeria. I possess a Bachelor’s degree in Finance and a Master’s degree in Global Management. My stories are a fusion of faith and romance wrapped in a warm blanket of African spice. When you read my books you’re taken on a journey to Africa, where the culture may differ but the universal theme of faith, hope & love prevail.

My publishing credits include An Unexpected Blessing (2013), The Christmas Ultimatum (2013), When You Let Go (May, 2014), A Scoop of Love (Jan, 2015) and Anchored By Love (Dec,2015). I’m also the co-owner of KevStel Group LLC and reside in Atlanta Georgia with my husband and two kids.

LaToya: What are your ambitions for your writing career?
UnomaMy motivation is tied to my purpose which is to spread the message of the Kingdom through uplifting and edifying stories. My mission is for people to read my stories and walk away with renewed hope in the love of God. And also be entertained and educated on the culture of Africa especially my home country Nigeria.

LaToya: Which writers inspire you?
Unoma:  Nigerian writers such as Buchi Emecheta and the late MEE Mofe Damijo. Also African American writers like Pat Simmons, Brenda Jackson and the late Francis Ray.

LaToya: What are you working on at the minute?
Unoma: At the moment, I am working on my sixth and seventh novels which will both be released this year. They are titled HE CHANGED MY NAME and THE FINAL ULTIMATUM.

LaToya: What genre are your books and why?
Unoma:  I write Christian fiction with a sub-genre of romance. The genre I would write in was a no brainer for me as I love sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ. However I’m also introverted so I use my writing to say things I wouldn’t normally feel comfortable saying. Coupled with the fact that I’m a sucker for happily ever after, you have Christian fiction romance. My own uniqueness comes from the pieces of my African culture I throw into the mix.

LaToya: In 10 words or less can you create a quote that describes you and your writing?
Unoma: Simple...lol! My tagline... fusion of faith, romance and African spice.

LaToya: Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
UnomaThe male lead, Jabir Danjuma, in my most recent book Anchored By Love would be played by a Ghanaian actor, Chris Attoh while the female lead Damisi Odinga would be played by Nigerian Supermodel Agbani Darego.

LaToya: When did you decide to become a writer?
Unoma: I remember always being a writer. The issue was becoming an author. Now that, I was more like pushed into. After a life threatening incident in 2012, I decided to use my talent. What would I have told God if I had died and not used anything He gave me?  So just like that I started writing with the aim of becoming an author. Then I reached out to an author who I had admired for a while. She was kind enough to help me out with craft and kind words of encouragement and the rest is history as they say. I have now published my fifth novel.

LaToya: Do you write full-time or part-time?
Unoma: I write part time because I actually have a day job in the financial sector. My desire however is to make a living off my writing in the near future.

LaToya: Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?
Unoma: My structured time is when my family is asleep. I consider myself a night owl. However I steal anytime I see available. Most of my plotting takes place in the shower or in traffic...lol

LaToya: Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
Unoma:  Normally I don’t have a goal but when I have a deadline which was the case this past October & November, my aim was 2000 words a day.

LaToya: Where do your ideas come from?
Unoma: From my surroundings and things that have shaped my view on life. Another huge influence is my culture. You see I’m a Nigerian-American. I was born in Akron Ohio, grew up in Port Harcourt, Nigeria and now reside in Atlanta, Georgia. I am what is termed a Nigerian in Diaspora. There are certain things that are unique to us either in living abroad or returning home. I share those experiences through my characters are always returnees or new immigrants.

LaToya: Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
Unoma: I always have a basic plot outlined. I have to know where I’m going. But, my writing is influenced by the Holy Spirit so there is always room for Him to take the story wherever He wants.

LaToya: How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Unoma: I think the unpredictability of my plot is improving. Most readers say, “Oh Unoma, I didn’t see that coming.”

LaToya: What is the hardest thing about writing?
Unoma: The hardest thing for me is the first draft, the raw material. Once I have that down, rewriting or revising is a beautiful thing.

LaToya: What was the hardest thing about writing your latest book?
Unoma:  My latest book deals with the human ability to accept the grace of God and free ourselves from condemnation after we have confessed our sins and been forgiven. My challenge was showing His grace but also making people understand His wrath and that actions do have consequences.

LaToya: What is the easiest thing about writing?
Unoma: For me the easiest thing about writing is rewriting.

LaToya: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Unoma: The first draft can take from 4 weeks to 8 weeks but the finished product can take up to 9 months.

LaToya: Where can you see yourself in 5 years’ time?
Unoma: I see myself about to launch my magazine.

LaToya: What advice would you give to your younger self?
Unoma: The best is yet to come. Sometimes we are in a hurry to get to where we think we should be but God always has the master plan.

LaToya: Which famous person, living or dead would you like to meet and why?
Unoma: The normal thing I guess would be to say President or First Lady Obama and/or the Pope. But mine is a little different...I’d love to meet the POTUS, FLOTUS and PONTIF but I would really like to meet the woman who inspired me as a young Nigerian girl, the late Mrs. MEE Mofe-Damijo. Growing up in Nigeria, the only romances available for me to read were Mills & Boons. That was until I read Centerspread by MEE as we called her (acronym for May Ezekiel Ellen), it opened my eyes to the fact that dark skinned people, people like me, could be in a romance novel. So I started to follow her career. She wrote some other novels and was the owner of a magazine, a wife and a mother. She inspired me, her death was so unfortunate and I would have loved the opportunity to meet her.

LaToya: If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Unoma: Tough question and none comes to mind.

LaToya: What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Unoma: My advice is to be true to you. Make your own voice come through, and also, once you start writing don’t go back and edit until you’re done. You goal should be to get to the end. Any other ideas you remember can be jotted down.

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Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.