Africa is not only about war and political instability, we fall in love too – Amaka Azie
We have an eye for beauty at MakeADreamNG.com. Add ‘brains’ to the package, and we are yours for keeps. Such is the magnetic effect of our encounter with the delectable Amaka Azie.
I call her a ‘doctor of medicine and romance’. Jokes apart, she truly is a Medical Doctor by profession; yet she’s also carved out a niche for herself in the literary world. Talk of enjoying the best of two worlds.
Born and bred in Lagos, Nigeria, Amaka Azie is traveling the world and taking the whole of Africa with her on an exciting cruise as a world-famous author of romance novels set in rich African culture .
Welcome to Literary Vibes, the segment of our blog where we serve you the groovy side of the Literary World. If you’re ready for a thrill, please dive in and let’s explore the amazing world of Dr. Amaka Ozumba Azie.
Funmi: Let’s meet the renowned African Romance writer, Amaka Azie.
Amaka: I am one of five children born in Lagos Nigeria. An interesting fact about me is that I’m a twin. I have a twin brother. I consider myself a bona fide Nigerian because I have lived in the three major regions of Nigeria. I grew up in Lagos and Abuja, schooled in Onitsha for secondary school, and went to University in Benin City where I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Medicine and Surgery.
Funmi: Interesting. When did you discover you wanted to be an author?
Amaka: I have always enjoyed writing. As the president of the press club in secondary school in Onitsha, I was responsible for putting together interesting articles to read at assembly. I enjoyed the process immensely. I have always loved reading and sometimes got into trouble for missing family events like dinner because I was engrossed in one book or the other. I remember writing multiple short stories, which I passed around my classmates. Sometimes my classmates got into arguments about who was next in the queue to read my books. One day, my English teacher seized one of my stories because a classmate of mine was reading it during English class. I thought I was in trouble when she called me into the staff room. However, she told me she read it and encouraged me to consider writing as a career.
The desire to write has always simmered inside me and I had many unfinished manuscripts in my computer. I finally decided to take this desire to the next step when I met Tolulope Poopuola, a publishing consultant at Accomplish Press. She not only encouraged me to complete my manuscript, but she also assisted in publishing my books.
Funmi: Awesome. Thanks to Tolulope Popoola and Accomplish Press. So, why did you choose the romance genre?
Amaka: When I was a teenager, I searched actively for romance novels that had African main characters, people I could identify with, but found very few. I was dissatisfied with this, and had to settle for romance novels with non –African main characters. When I came across romance novels written by Helen Ovbiagele from Pacesetters books, which were popular in the nineties, I went crazy. I was like a kid in a candy store: I bought so many copies.
I am inspired by her and other African romance writers like Kiru Taye, Ola Nubi, Lara Daniels, Somi Ekhasomhi and Nana Prah.
My mantra is, Africa is not only about War and political instability, we fall in love too. I’m glad to be a part of the wave of bold romance writers showcasing Africa and the rich culture of the continent.
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Funmi: Commendable. Have you ever felt like quitting before?
Amaka: I’ve only begun publishing and I’ve found the process very exciting. I’m blessed to be finally doing what I enjoy, and I have that luxury because it’s not about monetary gain for me. I genuinely love writing and I’m not driven by financial need but the enjoyment of the process, so no, I’ve never felt like quitting. I find it very rewarding hearing from readers who identify with my characters. It’s always great to hear from them. In fact, when I heard from a reader who took time to seek me out on twitter to tell me how much she enjoyed reading about Nigeria in a different and positive light, I was over the moon. Those are moments that encourage me to keep writing.
Many Africans writers think if people can’t understand the culture they would be unsuccessful.
Funmi: Do you write full time? And if not how do you combine writing with your profession?
Amaka: I work part time as a family doctor. I usually write when I’m off or at night when the kids are asleep. Only then can I relax with a glass of wine in front of my computer and allow the creative juices flow. It’s not always easy balancing family, my job and writing because I have on a few occasions gotten an idea in the middle of family events and even once, while at work. I usually dictate the idea into my phone’s voice notes and return to it later when I have time. My family have been very supportive and that also helps. Some of my colleagues at work have read my books and have encouraged me too. So I guess I’m supported both at work and at home. It makes it a lot easier. When people ask me how I make time for writing, I tell them I don’t see writing as a chore I have to make out time for because I genuinely enjoy telling stories. It’s the process after writing the story that is more gruelling for me. Example, publishing, editing and other marketing stuff. I prefer giving that responsibility to others for now.
All stories need to be told, including stories from Africa, and not just negative.
Funmi: Awesome! Can you tell us why African authors shouldn’t be scared of projecting the African culture to a global audience?
Amaka: Many Africans writers think if people can’t understand the culture they would be unsuccessful. It’s the fear of the unknown. I’ve had people tell me to change my name to Amy, to get more international appeal. I’ve also had people tell me not to use African names for my characters. That it may be too African for a wider audience. That’s a lot of bull if you ask me.
On the bright side, a reader from London, an English reader contacted me on twitter.
She read “Thorns and Roses” and was amazed at the rich Nigerian culture. She stumbled on the book on Amazon after reading an African romance book. She has never been to Nigeria, but she is interested in Africa because her daughter was dating a Ghanaian. She loved how authentic “Thorns and Roses” and vowed to visit Nigeria. I was so happy to hear that from her that it reminded me why I do what I do.
I am so passionate about this. All stories need to be told, including stories from Africa, and not just negative. It should be broad and show the various aspects of our culture. And it should be authentic. Bad and good.
I’ve never read a non-African book where the writer was worried about being non-African to attract African readers, why should we?
Funmi: Thank you very much Amaka. So, what are you working on at the moment? Anything we should expect from you soon?
Amaka: I am currently working on a romance novel set in Abuja Nigeria which touches on politics and corruption and a quest to find justice for a loved one. It should be out early next year.
I’ve also had people tell me not to use African names for my characters.
Funmi: Dope. Final words for your fans and colleagues?
Amaka: Thanks to everyone who has read my books and given me constructive feedback. Thanks to fellow authors who have encouraged me and Romance Writers of West Africa (RWOWA) for embracing me. I’m still writing and there is more to come from me….
Funmi: Thanks for sharing with us Amaka.
Amaka: Thanks for giving me the opportunity.
Amaka Azie is a serial author of rich African Romance novels including “Thorns and Roses”, “Starting Over Again” and many more. Please follow the link below to visit Amaka’s author page and buy her books:
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