Back in February 2013, I interviewed author Omoruyi Uwuigiaren for my interview-only WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, scriptwriters, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with children’s author Omoruyi Uwuigiaren. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Omoruyi. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Omoruyi: My writing achievements include articles, cartoons, editorials and over nine books. Guardian, Vanguard newspapers, Joeypinkney.com, Town Crier Times, Moronic Ox Literary and Cultural Journal, the Publicist International and other literary journals have published my works. I am based in Lagos. As early as I can remember, I attended a crusade organised by a church in 1998. The man of God called me out of the crowd and told me that God said, “I am a writer”. And that put me on the path to a great love of books my whole life. Writing has turned out to be one of the most fulfilling things that I have ever done, and I will never stop it.
Morgen: What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Omoruyi: I write books and stories for children in a literary style with a prevailing sense of ethics. What makes my stories so very readable is my voice and writing style as soft as an African savannah.
Morgen: What have you had published to-date?
Omoruyi: My latest book is “The City Heroes and Other Stories from the Heart of Africa”. It is a perfect introduction for young readers to learn the African experience. Suitable for middle-grade readers, the stories within the collection contain messages and themes about forgiveness, charity, redemption, and loyalty all from a decidedly African perspective.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? How involved were you in that process? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Omoruyi: I have two eBooks. Apart from reading the final draft for the typo and making corrections, there was nothing else. Yes, I read eBooks a lot. Now we can preserve trees!
Morgen: :) Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actor/s?
Omoruyi: The City Heroes and Other Stories from the Heart of Africa are my favourite book, and Blaize is my favourite character. I like Tom Cruise.
Morgen: He’s a great actor. Did you have any say in the titles/covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Omoruyi: I always have a say in the titles and covers of my books. But in the case of “The City Heroes”, my publisher was king! Book covers and titles are very important. Sometimes you can judge a book by the cover. The world is a small place and people are always in a hurry. If your book cover or title is not attractive, your work might not get a second look.
Morgen: It may well not. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Omoruyi: A novel titled “Savannah Wind”.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Omoruyi: I write every day and I hardly suffer from writer’s block. I will never stop writing.
Morgen: You’re very lucky. Most writers, myself included, say we need more time to write. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Omoruyi: It depends on my situation. But most times I get an idea and run with it. I think it is convenient to engage in the latter.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Omoruyi: I have been writing middle-grade fiction for a number of years, I cannot remember if I ever used a method to create my characters and their names. To me, this aspect of writing is the simplest. The level of your imagination at work will determine how believable your characters will be.
Morgen: Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Omoruyi: I don’t do a lot of editing now. The more you write, the better you become. And the easier it will be for an editor to edit your work.
Morgen: Do you have to do much research?
Omoruyi: Research is inevitable if you want to have an excellent book. I do much research.
Morgen: What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Omoruyi: I like the third person point of view. I have never tried the second person.
Morgen: It’s an interesting point of view, although best left to short stories. Do you write any poetry or short stories?
Omoruyi: Yes, I write poetry and short stories.
Morgen: Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Omoruyi: Rejection is a major scar in writing. I have had several rejections and I took them in good faith.
Morgen: That’s a great way to look at it. Do you enter competitions?
Omoruyi: I must confess, I have never entered for any writing competition before. But I will do so henceforth.
Morgen: Oh you don’t have to. Many authors don’t. Whilst a themed competition makes me write something new, I enter very few, although I do know authors who enter more competitions than writing for any other purpose. Most prefer to submit for money/publication. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Omoruyi: I don’t have an agent. Yes, they are good and can help a writer secure a lucrative publishing deal.
Morgen: How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Omoruyi: The easiest way to survive is to learn how to blow your own trumpet. I am always on the look out for avenues where I can promote my works and myself.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Omoruyi: The lowest point in my writing life was when I sold one of my books to a publisher in my country. It was a blunder and I vowed never to make such mistakes again.
Morgen: Oh dear. We live and learn. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Omoruyi: Just to keep writing. Try to get the first book out and network with people. No matter what happens, don’t give up if your first book fails to hit the mark. Write more books and build your fan base.
Morgen: If you could invite three people from any era to dinner, who would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Omoruyi: Charles Dickens, Mark Twain, and William Shakespeare. Barbecue and ice cream!
Morgen: Nice. If you had to choose a single day from your past to re-live over and over, what day would it be and why?
Omoruyi: The day I met the prophet that told me I was born to write. That day changed my whole life!
Morgen: I felt the same when I went to a creative writing evening class. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Omoruyi: A man is for himself, but God is for us all.
Morgen: What do you do when you’re not writing?
Morgen: Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful?
Omoruyi: Book Marketing BuzzBlog: http://www.bookmarketingbuzzblog.blogspot.com
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Omoruyi: I am on Facebook, Book marketing network, LinkedIn, Shout Life and Twitter. They are good platforms for book marketing.
Morgen: What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Omoruyi: Very bright.
Morgen: I agree. :) Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Omoruyi: http://www.open-bks.com/library/moderns/the-city-heroes/about.html, http://omoruyiu.blogspot.com and
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Omoruyi: I am a preacher of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Morgen: Thank you, Omoruyi.
I then invited Omoruyi to include an extract of his writing…
The Outside World
The night was as dead as a doornail and Lady Tranquility took her seat in the neighborhood. Dag, a frustrated cat in the pool of old age, had nothing better to do than lie on the rooftop of a bungalow that was begging for renovation. The cat gazed at the beautiful earth that spread before him as if it were a balance sheet under the nose of a shrewd accountant.
Dag was not alone. Other cats that had also known misfortune lay around the old cat like a pasture clothed with flocks. Dag cleared his throat and said, “I have no passion for living anymore. How can we exist without offending?”
“That is for the next world!” said Fred as he scratched his hindquarter.
Raising his head and yawning, Pork said, “It is impossible to walk through life without enemies. It may be better to live in isolation. But I have yet to see an isolated man who is happy.”
Dag sighed as if the hands of impossibility had challenged him. “Did I tell you my master has not fed me for two nights?” he asked his friends.
“No, but I have heard that bedtime story before,” said Pork as he sighed then turned away.
“I will never forget what that old man did to me,” said Dag as he shook his head.
“I have never seen you in this mood,” said Pork. “Tell us, what did he do to you?”
“Three nights ago I chased a rat into his kitchen. The little devil disappeared into a hole in the wall, which was near my master’s soup pot. I wanted to leave the kitchen, but I knew that as soon as I’d gone, the rat would come out of the hole and devour the soup. So I stayed back to keep vigil over the old man’s meal and possibly snuff the life out of the foolish rat if he ventured out of hiding. As I lay silently in the corner, hoping I would take care of the unfortunate soul if the opportunity presented itself, I heard a squeak and was not disappointed when I raised my head and saw the rat. It was heading towards the soup pot on the table…
and a synopsis of his book The City Heroes and Other Stories from the Heart of Africa…
Tonight during story time take a trip to the heart of Africa.
Make new friends including a clutter of cats otherwise known as The City Heroes. Follow a pair of jungle ants as they rescue their friend from a raging storm. Tag along with a country boy as he hunts wild birds to prepare a feast for his father’s arrival. Understand the true meaning of mercy and charity when a stranger is caught stealing eggs from a farmer. Help a baby named Thomas find his way home after he strays from his father’s boat. Follow Blaize and his newfound canine friend Thatcher as they thwart a group of kidnappers in Blaize and the Master of Enchantment.
Beautifully illustrated pictures help tell all six stories including The City Heroes, The Jungle Ants, The Country Boy, Stranger on the Farm, Baby Thomas and Blaize and the Master of Enchantment. Encounter adventures beyond your wildest dreams, learn about the beautiful country of Nigeria and see how easy and how fun it is to learn about a new culture in the heart of Africa.
The City Heroes and other stories from the Heart of Africa by Nigerian writer Omoruyi Uwuigiaren is a perfect introduction for young readers to learn about the African experience. Suitable for middle-grade readers, the stories within the collection contain messages and themes about forgiveness, charity, redemption, and loyalty all from a decidedly African perspective.
Omoruyi Uwuigiaren’s writing achievements include articles, cartoons, editorials and nine books. Guardian, Vanguard newspapers, Town Crier Times, Moronic Ox Literary and Cultural Journal, the Publicist International and other literary journals have published his works.