In our country today, it is not uncommon for brilliant professionals to openly express their convictions and opinions about vital issues affecting the society. Areas of interest include politics, entertainment, crime, feminism, gender inequality and the likes. There are no holds bared as courageous Nigerian speak out against rape, pedophilia, racism, injustice, corruption, terrorism and other ills of our society.
Sadly however, very few flesh out their persuasions into tangible formats and adaptable templates for a better society.
Without further ado, please meet the delectable Chineye Ochem, author of Our Land is Red.
Very few flesh out their persuasions into adaptable templates for a better society. @chyochem achieved that with her much acclaimed book, Our Land is Red @funmie_adebayoTweet
Q. Let’s meet Chineye Ochem. Tell us a bit about yourself.
Chineye: I am a Nigerian, an indigene of Delta State, born and bred in Lagos State, currently resident and working in Abuja. The fourth child of my parents, with four siblings; a graduate of Accounting from the University of Benin, an Associate Chartered Accountant, and a Certified Fraud Examiner. I currently work as an External Auditor in the Financial Services Industry unit of one of the Big four accounting firms. In my spare time, I love to read both fiction and non-fiction, write, watch TV series, listen to music and play board games.
Q. What is unique about your writing. How are you different from other authors?
Chineye: Well, in as much as I love to put pen to paper and get words flowing, it is important to me that my books have a message.
Q. Since when have you been writing, and who or what inspired your genius?
Chineye: I have been writing since I was a kid. I know it sounds cliché, but it’s true. I remember the first book I completed, I think I was eight or nine years old then, my mum took me to the proprietor of my school to show him the book. They had both seemed so excited…Lol. I have always loved to read fiction, and I read lots of them while growing up. My dad never got tired of buying me those story books. I think it was these books that inspired me to write, tell my own story.
My dad never got tired of buying me those story books. I think it was these books that inspired me to write, tell my own story.Tweet
Q. Do you write for living? If not, tell us what you do and how you successfully juggle your day job with writing?
Chineye: No, I don’t write for a living. I currently work as an External Auditor with PwC, Nigeria. I write in my spare time, mostly weekends and when I get to go on leave.
Q. What inspired Our Land is Red?
Chineye: Our Land is Red was inspired by the activities of the insurgents in Northern Nigeria. It was inspired by the kidnap of those young innocent girls in Chibok, the brutal killings of local farmers by Fulani herdsmen, and the constant reminder of the fact that some of the kidnapped girls are yet to be released and returned to their parents. The helplessness of the situation made me realize that even though I can’t do much about it, the least I could do was to tell the story in a way that might make people relate better with it.
The helplessness of the situation made me realize that even though I can’t do much about it, the least I could do was to tell the story in a way that might make people relate better with it. @chyochemTweet
Q. Tell us a bit about the book, and the attention it has received since it got published.
Read Excerpts of Our Land is Red
Chineye: Our Land is Red tells the story of a young smart girl with a bright future, living in the Northern part of Nigeria. On the first day of her SSCE exams, she had an experience which changed her life forever. Since it was published, many copies have been sold and there have been lots and lots of positive reviews from readers.
Q. What is your vision for the project?
Chineye: Well, my vision for this project is the complete defeat of the insurgency and terrorism in Northern Nigeria, and for all the kidnapped young girls to be returned safely to their families.
My vision for this project is the complete defeat of the insurgency & terrorism in Northern Nigeria & for all the kidnapped young girls to be returned safely to their families. @chyochemTweet
Q. How has it been as an author in Nigeria?
Chineye: It’s really not easy being an author in Nigeria, especially considering the fact that you not only have to write your book, but you have to be responsible for publishing, marketing, promotion and distribution of your books. In order words, I think it’s quite expensive being a writer in Nigeria.
I think it’s quite expensive being a writer in Nigeria. @chyochemTweet
Q. Have you ever given up on becoming a published author along the line? What led to it and how did you overcome it?
Chineye: Oh yes, I did give up on the idea at some point. I thought my writing wasn’t good enough. I kept comparing with the wonderful novels I had read by writers in the US or UK. Those novels had characters who lived in houses with white picket fences, ate things like hamburgers, made omelette as breakfast and basically had realities I couldn’t relate with. I thought since I couldn’t write like that, my writing wasn’t good enough. I think my opinion on this changed when I started reading books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
I did give up on the idea at some point. I thought my writing wasn’t good enough… my opinion on this changed when I started reading books by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. @chyochemTweet
Q. What should we expect from you in the nearest future?
Chineye: In the nearest future, well, expect more books. Mostly books that address our Nigerian realities. I am currently working on one, but it’s taking longer than I expected. It should be out soon, and yes, you would love it.
Q. Tell us your 3 things, ie 3 things you can’t do without. Three things that excite you.
Chineye: Three things I cannot do without: Music, Books, TV series.
Q. Tell us the best word of advise / inspiration you’ve ever received as an author.
Chineye: A statement by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: “Write. Just write. Start. And read as much as you can. Read widely and read different things, and sometimes while immersed in the multitude voices of others, you just might find your own.”
“.. read as much as you can. Read widely and read different things, and sometimes while immersed in the multitude voices of others, you just might find your own.” CNA @chyochemTweet
Q. Any word for your friends colleagues and aspiring authors out there?
Chineye: You can be whatever you want. You can do whatever you want. If you want to be an author, the best way to start is to write. As popularly said in the writing community, you cannot fix a blank page.
As popularly said in the writing community, you cannot fix a blank page. @chyochemTweet