Introducing the lovely Amaka Azie: your next favourite romance author

Amaka

I had the privilege of interviewing Amaka Azie, an exciting new author who writes contemporary romance fiction set in Africa, just like me! We met on Facebook. Yes, social media is amazing …

Please tell us something about yourself.

A: I was born in Lagos, Nigeria, West Africa. A middle child, with four siblings. I’m also a twin (I have a twin brother). I currently reside in England with my husband and daughters, where I practice as a part-time family doctor.

How did you get into writing?

A: It has always been a dream of mine since I was a teenager. I enjoyed reading a lot and would sometimes forget to eat because I was engrossed in a book, much to my mother’s irritation. My interests in writing intensified when I joined the press club in secondary school. I was responsible for putting up interesting news articles to read on assembly. This pushed me to also write short stories I passed around in class. I remember my classmates queuing up to read my stories.

I continued to ruminate about writing for a long time until I met a publisher last year, who encouraged me to follow my dreams. I have not looked back since then.

How do you develop your plots and characters?

A: I usually start off with an idea, write it down and then gradually work out how the plot progresses. I sometimes use flashbacks to give the characters depth. So that people can understand the characters more. A few times, the plot has taken a mind of its own and led me to a path very different from what I had originally planned. I guess sometimes, a story can take over the writer.

What inspires you to write?

A: Real life situations. I am a romance writer, but I like to integrate real life situations and struggles into my stories. I think everyday experiences of regular people are potential ideas for many stories.

I am a good listener, and I have found that people, even strangers, open up to me about their lives. Sometimes just seeing the emotions from people telling me their stories, puts an idea in my head.

Music is another inspiration. The song “I put a spell on you” by Nina Simone has filled my head with various ideas.

Who is your all-time favorite character (from your books) and why?

A: Chuma Obi, from Thorns and Roses. He is a complicated man, who has insight to his character flaws. He knows he is obsessive, manipulative and controlling. He sometimes tries to fight his natural obstinate behavior but fails most times.

He is also a kind, caring and loyal person, who will go all out to fight for people he cares about. I love that about his character. He never wants to see anyone he loves struggling.

Do you prefer coffee or tea?

A: Coffee

What’s better than chocolate?

A: Cocktails… I’m a sucker for cocktails…

If you believed in this sort of thing and could channel an artist from the beyond, who would it be and why?

A: It would be Fela Kuti, a late Nigerian musician. He did not care what people thought about him. He spoke the truth about injustice through his music and was arrested by the Government multiple times.

I would channel his fearlessness and courage to speak the truth no matter what.

What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in five years?

A: Hopefully with a Nigerian Writers Award… hahaha. And more bestsellers under my belt of course!

Any advice for those aspiring novelists out there?

A: Keep writing. Don’t give up. No one will read your stories if you don’t write. Also, don’t start out thinking about money. Start out with a burning desire to share your story.

Thanks for your time, Amaka! I’ll be reading Thorns and Roses, that’s for sure!

How can your readers contact you?

You can interact with Amaka Azie on:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/amakaazie1/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AmakaAzie

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/amakaazie

 

 

Love in a time of crisis

A tree

We all go through difficult times. Times when you’re hurting, disappointed, hopeless. A bad situation seems like it just won’t get better soon. I find it hard to write romance at times like this. I find it hard to work, full stop.

The only thing that I have found really works for these moments in life is to surrender. Dreadful word, I know. Who wants to do that? You want to fight the pain, you want to fix things, or lash out. Revenge looks good.

None of that works.

Surrender is another word for acceptance: of the situation, and what you feel – and the next step is asking for help in the sense of plugging into universal energies. Life works on a vibrational level and this is the moment to choose the high road (raise the vibration). Higher, towards love.

Usually, I need to start with feeling the pain. It can be huge, your chest cracking open. I don’t leave myself standing alone at these times. Yup, I call on the Great Beyond to assist me. Or whatever you want to call it (you choose). Have a good cry. A deep, core cry. You have to do it. Honour yourself in this way.

Next I will calm myself with a mantra. I’ve spoken about fear and the power of affirmations before. You need to tell yourself that all is well over and over again at times like this. I flow with life.

Allow yourself to be guided and held.

Plus, a gratitude list helps. What can you say thank you for despite this awful moment? Write it down. This tool always makes me feel better.

Finally, a happy dance. Yes, you can. Get up, even if you’re miserable. Shake that booty.

(Folks, do I need to add Read a good romance here? Didn’t think so.)

I hope you’re feeling better soon.

 

Getting out of the way

altar.jpg

Before I had a child, I spent many hours thinking about how to write. Where would be the best place to write. And when. I even messed about with an overly long, fraught manuscript loosely based on my own life.

In this time I also did lots of creativity-enhancing exercises, which I’ll share with you in a later post.

When my son was born, I panicked. My writing career was clearly over before it had started. When he was three, and started attending a local play school, I ran home to write. I sat in the mess (toys, unwashed laundry, dust) and opened my laptop.

I realised all you have to do is open the document. Open it when you have no idea what you are going to do. Start writing when you have no idea what will happen in the scene (or, very little).

Writing a single sentence made me feel calmer. Writing a page was a meditation. Writing a book was paradise. You can read about that particular process here!

Nowadays, before I write, I plug in. I hand it over. The deal is, I show up (and open the document) and the universe does the rest.

I am the hollow reed, an instrument for the story to come through as it wants to, but I am not The Author. At most, I am a co-creator.

The picture above is of a little dedication space I hold next to my desk – its objects represent my fears, wishes and difficulties. Here they are transformed in a process of surrender, and returned to me all sorted out.

If you really want to know how to write a book, that’s it.

It’s easy. The difficult part is only ever in our own heads. Give it up.