In my wanderings around Youtube I came across a book trailer and was captivated by the concept of the book. A lot of Nigerians do not like to discuss issues like pedophilia, incest or rape, and prefer to sweep such matters under the carpet when they occur. Ada's Daughter was handling a topic that is rarely talked about in Africa and so I found it even more intriguing when a little research showed that the author was Nigerian born. I contacted her and she agreed to give me an interview. Read on...
I started writing when I was about 10 years old as a way of dealing with what was going on in my world at the time – almost like keeping a diary, except that I didn’t necessarily write about things that were happening to me as much as my writings were about my emotional responses to them. Now I write because I have stories I want to share with the world and I want to take readers on these incredible journeys through my stories.
What is one book everyone should read?
I’m torn between Purple Hibiscus by Chimamandu Adichie and A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini. The former is a provocative exposition of the role of family in the formation of a child’s life and the latter gives a stark picture of what it means to be a woman in a culture where they are valued for distorted reasons, but both books are moving stories about the power of love and the struggle to survive. They both tugged at my heart deeply because of how each reflected in one way or another my own experiences.
Please tell us in one sentence only, why we should read your book.
Ada’s Daughter is a mesmerizing and thought-provoking story that goes to the heart of what survival means – filled with what I can only describe as God-inspired courage and strength, and providing a path to both self acceptance and personal growth for others.
Any other books in the works? Goals for future projects?
Yes, I have two books in the works. I have a passion for books that educate and inspire at a personal level. The first book is about the journey of one woman to take control of her future and reinvent herself, and the colorful characters – some good and some bad – that she meets along the way. The current working title is Devils in the Crossroad, but that may change as the book develops. The other book is a practical guide to people in abusive relationships, drawing from my own experiences.
Tell us your most rewarding experience since being published.
My hope when I wrote Ada’s Daughter was to connect with people at a deeper level by taking them on my own journey, and so I would have to say the most rewarding experience for me has been the emails from people sharing their own stories with me and telling me how much my book has inspired them to take control of their own lives. The very first email I received after the book was released was from a woman who experienced childhood abuse and trauma and at the end of her email she wrote: “I was excited when I read this thought provoking book and will be your biggest fan. I hope you will inspire so many others with this masterpiece as you have inspired me.” This I find very rewarding.
If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world.. which would it be?
When I read Purple Hibiscus and A Thousand Splendid Suns, I inserted myself in the book to lend my courage and strength to the victims, but I have a playful side to me that likes to live in a fantasy world sometimes, so I’d have to say Harry Potter. I know…I know, but how amazing it would be to live in such a magical world and do magical things. In this world, I can solve everyone’s problems.
What was your favorite book when you were a child/teen?
Oliver Twist. I could relate at an emotional level to his miserable existence.
Is there a song you could list as the theme song for your book or any of your characters?
If you would indulge me, I have two songs: The first is “Baby Don’t Cry (Keep Ya Head Up II)” from the album Still I Rise by Tupac and the second is Nelly Uchendu’s “Wakabout.”
What's one piece of advice you would give other upcoming authors?
Write because you love writing. Write about things you’re passionate about and pay attention to developing great content. Don’t get caught up on the awards you’ll win, the Hollywood deals, and the accolades. If you have great and entertaining content, those things will come in time. And is those things don’t come, you’ve written something you’ll forever be proud of. It’s your legacy and no one can take that away from you. Content is king.
What is your favorite Quote as a writer?
“It matters not how strait the gate, How charged with punishments the scroll. I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul.” Invictus by William Ernest Henley. Coincidentally, this is the opening quote to my book, Ada’s Daughter.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you "grew up"?
I wanted to be three things – journalist, actress and model. I wanted to be three things – journalist, actress and model. But my father refused to pay for any schooling that involved any of them. He wanted me to be an accountant or a lawyer, so that was the path I took. I studied accounting, qualified as a chartered accountant (we call this certified public accountant in the U.S.) and practiced as an accountant for five years. I then went on to law school for my juris doctor and a masters degree in international tax law. I practiced as an international tax lawyer in New York and London for a number of years. While these were rewarding careers, my soul was restless because I wasn’t doing what I was meant to do. But I had invested so much time, money and effort into getting these qualifications, and my children were still too young, so I was loathe to let go. After I lost my job in the financial meltdown of 2008, and with my two younger sons (twins) off to the university, I found myself at a crossroad in this journey called life—do I take a left and find another job doing what I’d been doing before or take a right and start afresh pursuing my passions? I made a conscious decision to finally focus on the things I’m truly passionate about. So, who knows, maybe I’ll still be want I wanted to be when I “grew up.” The stage is set and the curtain hasn’t been drawn yet.
Who are your favorite authors of all time?
Chinua Achebe, Chimamandu Adichie, Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Khaled Hosseini, J.K. Rowlings, Chris Cleave, and Patricia Cornwell to name a few.
What's the craziest writing idea you've had?
I had a book I was working on when I was in my teens. It’s a fiction about this super-ninja heroine. I was into martial arts and Bruce Lee movies when I was a child so you can see where that influence is coming from. But when I revisited that piece many years later, it was a pretty wild idea.
What's the best writing advice anyone has ever given you?
Just write—let the words flow. Don’t worry about how it should begin or end. That will come later. You’re going to re-write this so many times anyway, so just write.
How do you react to a bad review?
I have to say that so far I haven’t gotten a bad review. That’s not to say it’s not coming, but those who have read the book, while some questioned some of the choices I made along the way, loved the book. But if I do get a bad review, I’ll take it in stride like I tend to take everything else. I’ll try to glean some wisdom from it. No one is perfect, and I certainly I’m not. Obviously, it will hurt a bit. When you’ve poured your heart and soul into a project, you naturally want everyone to love it. But that’s naïve. I knew embarking on this journey that not everyone would like Ada’s Daughter, and just as I don’t react positively to every book I read for whatever reason, I don’t expect everyone to react positively to mine. I take solace in those that do like it and move on. I can’t please everyone so I focus on those that I can please.
If you could have a signed copy of any novel what would it be and why?
It’s difficult to point to any one book. I’ve been reading books since I was a child and most books I’ve read have inspired me in one way or another.
Which authors have influenced you most and how?
All the authors I’ve read since I was a child inspired and influenced me in one way or other, so it’s difficult to point to just one author.
Give us a glimpse into a typical day in your day starting when you wake up till you lie down again.
It’s difficult to give a good glimpse into my typical day because it changes from day to day depending on which of my many projects I want to give priority to that day, and some days, something comes up where I have to focus on all of them. Those days, when they come, are especially hectic. This is because, in addition to promoting my current book, Ada’s Daughter, working on the two books I mentioned earlier, and teaching a course as an adjunct professor at Charleston School of Law twice a week, I’m also launching two businesses in the next year—the first one, a themed dance party, will be launched at the end of summer 2011, and the other one, Charleston African Film Festival, will be launched in Spring 2012. But no matter how many things I’m juggling, one thing I’ve learned working as an international tax lawyer in New York City and in London, for many years, is taking time for me, so I devote 2 hours a day to meditation. I start my day at 6 am with a one hour meditation, then I head to the gym for a 90 minute workout and then I start my day. I try to end my day at around 11 pm when I can and meditate for one hour before I go to bed. These “me” times help me stay focused and grounded.
How did you celebrate the sale of your first book?
First I thanked God for His blessings. Next, I called my three sons, who are in college in Texas, and told them. Then, I went out to lunch with my fiancé.
In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?