I hope you are all doing well and staying safe.
Welcome to our monthly feature for authors.
The author for the month of February is the multi-talented Amaka Azie whose books have kept me engaged for the most part of this month.
I have so far read 3 of her books which were really interesting and I was immediately curious about the author. I was able to connect with her on social media and was elated when she granted my request for an online interview.
So here we go…..
Amaka Azie is an award-winning writer of romance fiction set in tropical West Africa. She explores the beauty and intricacies of the continent in her sweet and sensual love stories. Born and raised in Nigeria, West Africa, she developed a passion for reading at the age of twelve. Her interest in writing began in secondary school when she joined the press club. Her active imagination has captured the interests of many.
Her books showcase bold and exciting female and male main characters with compelling storylines. She was named one of the most influential authors under Forty by the Nigerian Writers Awards (NWA) for the years 2017 and 2018. Apart from getting lost in creating fascinating fictional characters, Amaka enjoys reading, painting and travelling with her family.
She lives in the United Kingdom with her husband and daughters where she also practices as a part-time family doctor.
You can interact with Amaka Azie on the following platforms:
Amazon page: http://bit.ly/AmakaAzie
Goodreads: https: www.goodreads.com/amakaazie
Amaka Azie has given us a sneak-peak into her life as a writer by answering the 10 questions below. Enjoy…….
How did you get started as a writer?
Amaka: From my mid-teen years, I wrote a number of short stories that I passed around my classmates and friends. In fact, I recall a teacher seizing one of my handwritten stories from a classmate of mine who was reading it during an English class in secondary school. When the teacher called me to the staff room two days later, I was terrified about getting into trouble because the story had a rather detailed kissing scene. However, much to my surprise, she simply handed me the notebook I’d written the story in, told me she’d read it and was impressed. She encouraged me not to give up writing. Although I took Mrs Iyang’s advice and continued writing, I didn’t publish until 2016 when Tolulope Popoola, another romance author encouraged me to do so. With her guidance, I self-published Melodies of Love, my debut novel.
What were the early influences on your writing and how do they manifest in your work?
Amaka: The first book that made me want to write was ‘The concubine’ by Elechi Amadi. I found the African tale about love in such a rural setting of ancient Igbo land so inspiring. It produced a yearning in me. I also wanted to write stories showcasing love and family relationships in Nigeria/Africa. The side of our continent the media often doesn’t portray. Since then, authors like Helen Ovbiagele and other African romance writers like Kiru Taye, Nana Prah and Empi Brayeh, have continued to inspire me.
How did you first get published and how was the experience?
Amaka: My debut novel was self-published under guidance from Accomplish Press. It was an exciting but also terrifying process. I was petrified about how people would perceive my love stories which have detailed sensual scenes. Especially from a culture where brazen talk about sex and sensuality is often considered taboo. Now with 8 Contemporary romance novels under my belt, I’m less concerned about that kind of criticism. I’m now focused on telling my stories the way I want to.
What was the greatest challenge in your writing process and how were you able to write regardless?
Amaka: Letting go of an outline that’s not working. When I start writing, I have an outline of the characters, their backgrounds and the plot. However, as usual, there are plot holes that need to be fixed. I find it hard deviating from the idea in my head and being flexible. My husband says I’m that way in other things. I make up my mind about something, and that’s it. Hahaha. I’m learning slowly not to be devastated that a plan I have isn’t working, to be more flexible with my writing.
Why do you choose to write romance stories?
Amaka: Simple. I love reading romance. I was raised in a home where my parents were constantly affectionate with each other. A family surrounded by love. So, naturally, I gravitated towards reading love stories. Unfortunately, growing up, there were few romance novels featuring African main characters. This always left me with a yearning for more love stories with people who looked like me. I remember being ecstatic when I discovered the Pacesetters book series popular in the 90s. For the first time, I read African literature showcasing mundane living. Not war, poverty, illiteracy or general perpetual sorrow. Those novels showcased African families, People falling in love, getting married, having children or even getting divorced. The kind of life I could Identify with. It was no wonder that I spent almost all my pocket money buying Pacesetters novels. I wanted to be a part of the writers bold enough to showcase the sensual side of Nigerians that is often left out or skimmed over when telling our stories.
Which do you prefer when you write? – Outline or just write? Pen or type writer or computer? Music or silence?
What is the biggest surprise you experienced after becoming a writer?
Amaka: Meeting a stranger in the gym who had read all my books. It was an English lady who told me she’d stumbled on my Amazon author page, and decided to try reading an African love story, because her daughter was getting married to a Ghanaian. Her excitement to meet me was so shocking. It made me realize that my writing venture wasn’t as private as I thought it was. Hehehe. I told my father about it and it was a proud moment for him.
How do you combine your job as a doctor, wife and mother with your writing?
Amaka: It’s hard. But I have a supportive family. I also work as a part time doctor, which gives me more time to write. My kids and husband now know not to bother me when I’m in my writing cave. That doesn’t always happen though. I sometimes get them rushing into my study with one ridiculous question or another. Or in my husband’s case, simple curiosity. My 13-month-old baby often wanders in there to give me a hug. I love it.
What is something memorable you have heard from your readers/fans?
Amaka: “Thank you for writing this story.” For someone to buy your book and then thank you for writing it … that’s utterly worth every single effort I put in the process.
What advice can you give to upcoming writers especially in the romance genre?
Amaka: -Read a lot of romance novels.
-Find your audience and cater to them.
-Romance has multiple sub-genres— Find what you prefer and stick to it.
My personal opinion is that only very successful romance writers have the luxury of switching between genres without losing their fan base. I know if I prefer sweet romance and have a favorite author, I’d be completely jarred if that same author releases an erotica.
-Make friends with other authors. You can learn from them. But know that some of them would try to discourage you and dampen your enthusiasm. Don’t let them. Keep writing. You get better at writing by writing.
-Accept constructive criticism but don’t lose sleep over unhelpful ones.
This was such a delight to read. Many thanks again to the author, Amaka Azie for this interview and I urge you all to go check out her books. You will surely thank me later. You may want to read my reviews of 3 of her books by clicking on “Book Reviews”.
Thanks for stopping by and have a good one.