Can you tell us a little about yourself and your background?
My name is Chioma Nnani and I am an award-winning author & blogger, radio presenter, producer and the CEO of The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium. I was born and raised in Nigeria, had my university undergraduate and postgraduate education in the UK and now live in Nigeria. I hold an LLB Honours degree from the University of Kent in Canterbury and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law from the De Montfort University in Leicester.
What inspired you to write?
I started writing when I was maybe six years old. I am inspired by the Universe.
What inspired your novel?
I come from a country where the authorities don’t take domestic violence as seriously as they should. Yes, there is an NGO called Project Alert that deals with such cases, but it is more the norm for abused women to be told by the police to ‘go home and settle with your husband’. Other themes in the book are friendship, love, sisterhood, cultural clashes and religion.
I read a book by Faye Kellerman in which one of the characters said that everyone is either running away from or towards something. But people run because they’re uncomfortable. They run till they get home. Home is a person, place or thing where one can be naked and unashamed. So Because Home Is … is a collection of short stories on finding a home, going home and being home – and it highlights the thing about home meaning different things to different people and how there are many paths to home for different people.
What is the genre?
Forever There For You would fit into General Romance, Women’s Literature, Feminist Literature and there is a bit of Coming-of-Age in there. Because Home Is … is a collection of short stories, so there’s a fair bit going on – definitely Women’s Literature, Feminist Literature and a bit of YA.
What draws you to this genre?
I was going to say something really profound and clever but I honestly don’t know (laughing). I genuinely believe that some pieces of work choose you, not the other way round.
How did you develop your plot and your characters?
Lots of research. I tend to get a bit OCD with research. Then, I like working with warped characters on paper of course …
What inspired your protagonist?
Lots of things. Some of the things that Nadine experiences – like coming to England to study, attending college in the city of Oxford, having her hair break because of the weather, wanting to dye her hair and difficulty with finding an African saloon – and some of the things she is – the girl who thinks the world is coming to an end because she scored an 80% on an exam as opposed to 110%, the girl who is so terrified of failure that she works herself into an ulcer … all of that were things from my own life. You will be glad to know I have matured a lot since then (laughing), so certain things aren’t that big a deal anymore. But there was a story that needed to be told. I will say however that Nadine’s story isn’t my story.
What inspired your antagonist?
I know abusive, violent people and one of them is the inspiration for Tony who is the villain in Forever There For You. There are a number of antagonists in Because Home Is … as it’s a collection of short stories. But they are based on real people, which is kinda scary, I was talking to a friend about one of the antagonists in the book and he kept going, “Are you sure this is based on a real person cos this dude sounds like he has serious issues?!”
What was the hardest part to write in the book?
For Forever There For You, there was a rape scene. There’s physical and verbal abuse. So that was difficult to write because I had to have those in my head; it was really uncomfortable. For Because Home Is … when Jade’s mentor dies of cancer. I lost one of my mentors on September 11, 2016 and the shock to my system … for like a week after that, I would wake up at like 2 or 3o’clock just to cry. And that blows because there are times I still feel robbed. She passed on in September and I won an award in October; it was one that she was sure I had the ability to win. And she had told me that exactly a year before. So, having what she predicted to happen and she’s not there in person, you’re like, “Yep! Cancer is a bitch!”
What was your favourite part of your book to write?
In Forever There For You, one of my favourite parts was the friendship between Nadine and her best friend, Stella. In Because Home Is … one of my favourite parts was writing about Victor’s character beating cancer.
Are you a full time or a part time writer? If part time, what do you do besides write?
I’m a full-time author-preneur. I’m CEO of The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd. It’s a media and publishing firm based in Abuja, Nigeria. And we have a suite of products and services – books, online courses, screen productions, stage productions, audio productions and a done-for-you service for entrepreneurs and SMEs so that they can concentrate on their real business. I also run the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine and we won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award for “Blog of the Year”. And I’m a radio presenter …
What are you currently reading?
“Sun Sets At Vanity Fair”. It’s a book by one of my new authors and it comes out at the end of March 2017. So, I am going through with a fine toothcomb (laughing)
Who would you say are your favourite authors?
Oh, I don’t really have a favourite author per se; when I get into an author, I will literally gorge myself on them. So, I will read everything I can find that they have written. My reading tastes are varied – Martina Cole, Chimamanda Adichie, Barbara Taylor Bradford,
How about your favourite books? What would be your top 5?
I don’t have any favourite books; I’m more like a “I like an author, I’ll read their work”.
What are your future projects, if any?
As a writer, I’m working on a trilogy aimed at teenagers, the trilogy comes out in the summer. Then, there’s a collaborative autobiography scheduled for release in September. And I am working on my second full-length novel. As a radio presenter, I need to revamp my show. As the CEO of The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium, there’s stuff … screen productions, a stage production, online courses, more clients’ books to publish, and a done-for-you service for entrepreneurs and SMEs to help them focus on their real business.
What is your preferred method for readers to get in touch with you and your books?
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Write. Read. Write some more. Read some more. Look for an editor Look for a publisher. Read. Network. Learn. Read.