An author interview with Nigerian author, Chisom Martin Ojukwu.
LE: Hello Chisom, please tell us a bit about yourself:
Chisom: My roots are deep in the soil of Nnewi. I was born as number 2 in a family of 5 happy, healthy children. Raised in the popular town of Aba. My parents spare no expenses where education is concerned, so from the time they could afford it, I attended arguably the best primary and secondary schools in town. My mother wouldn’t send me to boarding school because in her words, I was too stubborn they’d surely break my head. My fondest childhood memories – besides games, mini-choir sessions and play-acting at home with my siblings – are of debating, dancing, acting and travelling for academic and extra-curricular competitions with my friends and teachers from secondary school. That is where I started writing too. The sojourn into ‘adulting’ started by studying Chemical Engineering at the Federal University of Technology, Owerri (FUTO).
LE: Is writing your full time job?
Chisom: I’m a Master of Ceremonies and Events host. A combination of my public speaking and entertainment skills, plus humor from my father, strategically and very pleasantly put the microphone in my hands. I operate from Lagos, Nigeria.
When I’m not doing that, I’m managing WordsAreWork – we write, edit, design and publish web-copy, books, magazines, brochures and the likes for individuals and companies. It’s very satisfying work – helps me stay in touch with the pen wordsmith in me, while helping to re-brand writing in Nigeria/Africa and making some money.
LE: When did you start writing and what prompted it?
Chisom: Lol. Sorry, I pre-empted this one in the history question. I started writing in secondary school. We wrote essays every week (or so) and after she had marked, our Essay-writing teacher (bless you, Aunty Stella) would select the ones she particularly liked and have the writer read it to the class. My essays got picked a lot, and every time I read them out, I noticed the class listened – which is rare for a JSS 3 class of teenagers (12-15 years old). With time I got bolder; I started including dialogues in my essays – they liked it; I let my mind go to town with descriptions, taking a whole paragraph sometimes (I know, I’m sorry! lol) to describe how the car tires marked the muddy road leading up to our house in the village – they loved it; and eventually, I started using bits of our personalities (my classmates and teachers) for the characters in my stories.
The feeling of looking forward to reading an essay in class ehn – the tingling, freezing palms, pounding heart, boiling blood in my ears…tsk tsk tsk. I feel it all right now, as I write this. Boy, it was a bae feeling!
LE: Do you have other published titles apart from Love Eventually?
Chisom: Most of my fiction you’ll only find on the blog section of WordsAreWork – that’s how the business started, as a blog. I have a few scattered in places like ShortSharpShot and Naijastories, but not much. I have published more of creative non-fiction. I was published by The Nation newspaper for three years while in university as a campus journalist. Also I have quite a number of non-fiction pieces published with magazines like The Spark of Business Day. Like the fiction, a search of my name on WordsAreWork will expose all of them!
I will write more though, given life. Nwa Ude (that’s Walter) and I are tasking ourselves with a possible sequel to Love Eventually; we’ve been hit-and-miss on the planning for 3 years now (lol!) but hopefully, we’ll do it this time, thanks to the ‘ginger’ of the beautiful review you did of Love Eventually.
Also, my big sister had me swear years ago that she’ll have my titles on the shelves of her family library. She started building that library last year with some of the titles I edited, but she reminds me constantly that my nieces want to see “Written by Uncle Chisom.”
LE: What next after Love Eventually?
Chisom: That sequel! Hopefully (nwa Ude, yes?…lol!)
For a while, Suyi Okungbowa and I tried to turn WordsAreWork into a community of writers and it worked, but only to an extent. Now we’re back to the business model, but I’m still interested in teaching writers: A. How to write; and B. How to make money writing, so I’ll keep looking into how best to do that. There’s too much writing talent in this country trading for cheap, it makes me so sad.
While doing that, I plan to stay connected to my first love via my personal blog
LE: What are your hobbies/ what do you do to relax?
Chisom: To relax, I watch movies (I will track a soppy love story down, from Netflix to stream sites and even IrokoTV…they can’t hide from me!). Other things I enjoy doing are playing (Taekwondo, volleyball, or just goofing with my family), dancing, singing, talking and eating dodo.
The eating dodo bit made us laugh. What a delightful interview! We look forward to the sequel to Love Eventually… get to it, guys.
Love Eventually was written by Walter Ude and Chisom Ojukwu.
Read our review of Love Eventually here.
Categories: Authors and Books