Our author for the month of June, 2020 is the amazing Emem Bassey!
Emem Bassey writes juicy romance novels but with a twist. All her heroines are chubby and her heroes are alpha males sprinkled with some suspense and/or crime.
About The Author:
In an Emem Bassey novel, you’ll find – romance, a chubby, naughty heroine, a captivating alpha male, hot love scenes, crime, adventure and a taste of Nigeria. She’s into exhilarating action on the pages, loves guns and is a ghost to neighbors at her home Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, Nigeria. Most of her books can be found at www.okadabooks.com
Emem was graceful enough to grant this online interview where she has answered 10 questions which gives us a sneak peek into her life as a published writer.
I hope you enjoy reading her responses as much as I did.
1. WHEN DID YOU START WRITING?
Emem: I started writing at age seventeen and haven’t stopped since. But because of how difficult traditional publishing has been in the past, my works only became public in 2017 when I published on a site called Lagos Convo, it was an entertainment website where people got to read each chapter of my story daily and months later, I found Okadabooks.
2. WHAT INSPIRES YOU TO WRITE ROMANCE STORIES?
Emem: Uh, even as a kid, I was a daydreamer. I had all these futuristic plans and imaginations of how I’d finish secondary school, go to the university, finish that, get a job instantly and live in my own house where I’d have lots of pretty clothes and (this is the most important part) date whoever I wanted without my parents putting them through the third degree. It was a grand ambition that never quite panned out as envisioned.
It started out with me imagining how my dating life would be, then I became interested in other people’s dating lives and then I ended up mentally matchmaking random people.
My inspiration can come from a movie, meeting new people, a book, a funny story – like in one of my stories – Duct, the first of the Duct series, that story came from a real life gist of how a kidnapper was finally arrested because he went on a date. So, no matter the terrible situation of the real story, I always find a way to give it a romantic and HEA spin for my books. So, any and everything can inspire me.
3. IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE MOST IMPORTANT ELEMENTS OF GOOD WRITING?
Emem: I’m not very good at being technical about writing, it takes away the joy of ingenuity, in my opinion. To me, all elements of writing are important; the blend of all elements makes a good book. How one blends /measures those elements is left to the writer and the story. I say story because sometimes, the story actually writes itself.
4. WHAT IS THE MOST DIFFICULT PART OF YOUR ARTISTIC PROCESS?
Emem: Hmm, sometimes it’s finding the perfect name for characters. I always want a name that is short or could be shortened during the writing because, typing long names is not funny at all.
Another difficult part is finding back stories that aren’t cliché, and even if they are, not overly so.
Drafting is also difficult. So, most times I just start writing and it flows. But then fresh ideas jump in and just so I don’t loose it, I draft. It’s difficult to instantly imagine the whole story in small words that will actually make sense later when I’m ready to develop it, perhaps, months later.
Then there’s following the drafts. I’ve been known to get into power tussles with my drafts when the stories want to go a different route. I can’t say I’ve straight up won any of those battles, but we always compromise.
5. WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE AND LEAST FAVOURITE PART OF THE PUBLISHING PROCESS?
Emem: Uh…favorite would be when I’m done with the numerous and torturous steps of editing. Least favorite – the editing process.
6. WHAT ONE THING WILL YOU GIVE UP TO BECOME A BETTER WRITER?
Emem: What?! I have to give up something? I’d say my day job, because then I’d have more time to write but hey, since I’m not really social, my job affords me the opportunity to observe potential characters and behavioral patterns and it pays! So, I cannot give up anything, not my job, family, past experiences, good or bad, the few friends I have. I mean, I’m a blend of everything around me; I shouldn’t give up anything, I should even add more; these are the things that give me evolving perspectives in my writing.
7. HOW DO YOU HANDLE LITERARY CRITICISM?
Emem: Cringe. Cringe. Flinch and blink. Cringe again. Suffer a couple of rapid heartbeats, endure gnawing pain in my stomach before I settle down to consider what has been written. If it’s something I can correct, I do it because, let’s face it, criticisms – the constructive ones, help me grow as a writer. But, I don’t take all to heart. Most criticisms of my work come off as personal opinions; that means, the people that love it as it is are more than the critics. But I’d consider modifying though, if, out of ten reviews, I get six of the same criticism.
8. DO YOU CONSIDER YOURSELF TO BE A SUCCESSFUL WRITER? IF SO, WHY? IF NOT, WHAT WOULD MAKE YOU SUCCESSFUL?
Emem: First of all, the fact that I’m being interviewed by the lovely Biyai, makes me a success; it means I caught somebody’s attention. I am a successful writer because I have many stories that people love and readily relate to. It gladdens my heart and shocks me too when readers reach out to say how much they love my stories and how close to their reality these stories are and then they go ahead to wish their reality ends happy like in the books. It’s cool to know those stories encourage.
I feel successful because people are knowing me for the plus size heroine stories. The name Emem Bassey is making a dent in people’s consciousness.
I might not have international acclaim, even national sef, or the big monies rolling in…yet, but this isn’t where I was seventeen years ago when I started. Or, where I was when I published my first book on Okadabooks. I have grown as a writer, a person because of my writing, I’ve learnt a lot on the way and yes, I feel very successful because I got published on Love Africa Press, a UK based publishing company owned by Kiru Taye, an amazing Nigerian woman. She’s my idol; the change we needed in the traditional publishing space.
I feel successful because I have more stories to tell.
9. WHAT ADVICE DO YOU HAVE FOR UPCOMING AFRICAN WRITERS ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO WRITE GENRES LIKE ROMANCE?
Emem: My answer to this question has been constant – Write what you love to read. It’s simple, it’s how I begun, except I twisted those Mills and Boons into the Nigerian setting and slammed in a chubby heroine to make it unique.
So, take the kind of stuff you love reading, scatter it and rearrange it with your environment, then add your unique signature to it.
Which brings me to the next point of – Writing what you know. I know butterflies in the stomach, because I’m obsessed with romance, I know plus size struggles because I’m plus size, and a bit of crime in my books because it’s a reality in Nigeria, so I stick to what I know.
And finally, consistency! Nothing on earth can flourish if it isn’t consistently taken care of. I didn’t magically become who I am today or the best seller I’ll become tomorrow. It took hours of research, reading and learning on my own. Hours of sitting in one place despite hunger pangs and the reality of ‘brokenness’, it took the sacrifice of social life and the risk of being hated by caring friends because I chose to stick with a vocation that wasn’t paying at the time. But I’m glad I held on. At the end of the day, writing got me my day job, thereby opening me to more possibilities. I’m not saying it’s easier now, but there’s great satisfaction when you build a thing to success.
And, I must add that at the center of all these is God. Work hard but don’t ever forget God.
10. TELL US SOMETHING INTERESTING ABOUT YOURSELF THAT NOT MANY PEOPLE KNOW.
Emem: Uh…I am, naturally, a very timid person. I still am…a bit. I suffer anxieties when I’m walking into situations that aren’t my usual reality and it takes a while to fade off, if at all. But, my dad, God rest his soul, taught me the fine art of confidence, so, I fake it a lot until it feels normal.
I don’t like non-fiction books. They remind me of school and I don’t like the generic idea of school. And oh, I’m terrified of heights and going on water.
Special thanks to Emem Bassey for granting this interview and we look forward to reading more of your work in the near future.
Do you have any more questions for Emem Bassey? Please feel free to connect with her blog Chubby
Your comments on this interview are also welcome so please let’s talk more in the comments section.
Thank you for visiting this site. Have a lovely day.
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