Name – Nuzo Onoh
Age – Over the age of consent
Where are you from
I was born in Old Biafra, in the Eastern part of Nigeria. I survived the Nigerian/Biafran civil war as a Biafran child refugee. I attended Queen’s school, Enugu, Nigeria, before proceeding first to the British Quaker Boarding school, The Mount School, York, then St Andrew’s Tutorial College, Cambridge, from where I got my A’levels. In-between two marriages and two divorces, I have managed to achieve my first class marriage degrees of two brilliant daughters, Candice and Jija, as well as two university degrees from the wonderful Warwick University – a Law degree and a Masters degree in Writing. These days, I run my own self-publishing company, Canaan-star Publishing, which publishes all my own books as well. After all, as the saying goes, charity begins at home.
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
My next African Horror book, The Sleepless, which is my first novel (as against short stories), is due out on the 28th of June, 2016. I have been fortunate to be signed on by the UK’s No. 1 book publicist, Palamedes PR and looking really forward to the adventure.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
At the age of 12years, I formed a school club called CoyW (Club of young Writers). I was in boarding school in Old Biafra and the grub wasn’t the best. So, I organized some friends who liked writing and began sending out letters to all my dad’s friends to support our club with money. A couple gave us the money which we blew on snacks. Needless to say, we never produced any book but, I can say that I did write a short story and from then, I became hooked on the idea of being a writer or a musician.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Even though I had published a book before attending Warwick University for my Masters in Writing, I can honestly say that it wasn’t till I completed that course that I felt confident enough to call myself a writer – it’s a mind thing really. Anyone can be a writer without a degree as long as you have the talent. But nothing beats a writing course for teaching you tech stuff like structure, dialogue, voice and character building.
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I write a unique and little explored horror sub-genre, African Horror.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
My latest book, The Sleepless, is a story about vengeance by ghosts of children abused by adults. You may recall the famous quote in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, “Sleep no more. Macbeth doth murder sleep – the innocent sleep”. A child’s sleep is assumed to be innocent sleep, especially when it is the sleep of death. Children not expected to roam the earth as the restless dead. So, when that happens as a direct consequence of adult evil, they become The Sleepless, the infants that never sleep, just like adult ghosts with unfinished business.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Child abuse comes in different forms, some deliberate acts of evil, others, unintentional, based on ignorance and culture. A lot of the abuse that happens in my book are from ignorance even as some are as a result of adult cruelty. I’m hoping my readers will appreciate that children are not as helpless as they appear a times and anything…anything…can happen when a child has been driven beyond the point of endurance.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic?
So much of the book is realistic of African culture today and the setting is 100% African.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
I experienced first-hand some of the horrors and abuses described in the book as a child refugee in Old Biafra. The rest is pure fiction.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
I was always an eclectic reader so can’t say any particular book has influenced my life. However, some authors has influenced my love of horror, such as Amos Tutuola and Stephen King, while Steven Pressfield’s style of writing, his command and mastery of words, the fluid beauty of his dialogues, still holds me enthralled to date. I would recommend his book, Gates of Fire to the entire world.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
The Small Hand by Susan Hill.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Eden Royce (Spooklights), Jewell Parker Rhodes (Voodoo Dreams).
Fiona: What are your current projects?
Just started on my next African Horror novel, with a working title, “Kill Her Corpse Dead”.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
Not a thing. Sometimes I wonder if the vengeance was enough, if I should have gone for total annihilation. But I think the end ties in well with the innocence of the victims.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
These days, thanks to the internet, one can access a lot of research info without excessive travelling. However, because of the uniqueness of my work, there’s not enough info on African Horror to help my writing. I travelled to Old Biafra in 2014 and was able to gather quite a lot of information for my book. I’m planning to travel next year for more research.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
A brilliant chap called Eugene Saratorio, who uses lots of images I download from an online image site to create brilliant covers. I merge several images and always ensure there’s an African mask in my covers to preserve the African theme.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Editing and redrafting.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Follow your writing style and not what anyone tells you. If you enjoy free-style writing without jotting down plots, datelines, characters etc, then stick to your format. If you like writing every other day, so be it. Whatever works for you as a writer is the best for you. You’re more productive when you’re being true to your writing self and style rather than trying to fit yourself into a set mold because that’s what someone else says is good for you. Finally, I know you’ve probably heard this several times but I’ll repeat it anyway – write about something you know, something you’re passionate about, something you can write about with authority. You’re more likely to sell it to your readers than if it’s something you’re writing for the sake of writing and having a book published.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I cry about child abuse and sad films/books. I laugh at some of the barmy antics of my cat Tinkabell and some brilliant comedy sitcoms.
Fiona: Is there one person past or present you would meet and why?
Shaka the Zulu, King Leonidas of Sparta, Achilles, Rommel, Serena Williams and Count Carl Von Rosen. I hate war but have always been fascinated about the mindset of winners. These names represent everything to do with that indomitable mindset. With Count Von Rosen in particular, I and every Biafran child that survived the war, owe him our lives. His, is a case of philanthropy, bravery and generosity beyond the call of nature.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
My kids already know I will be cremated. No corpse worms will get my body. My ashes will fly, soar up to the skies, merge with the clouds and become one again with the universe till my soul reincarnates for another wonderful return.
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I love my music. I play both the piano and the guitar and also enjoy long walks every day, which allows my mind to destress and think up new plots for my books.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
Xmas is not Xmas unless I watch The Eagle has landed, The Battle of the Bulge, Pollyanna and One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Otherwise, all the old British comedy sitcoms and some American ones like Frasier, King of Queens and Everyone loves Raymond. The Godfather, All About Eve and Dog Day Afternoon are amongst my all-time favourites.
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Chinese food, Jazz/Soul/Bossa Nova music, no fav colour.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Just a big thank you for reading my books. Your support is what makes it possible for me to carry on writing, spreading the message about this new genre, African Horror, to a wider audience. Please look out for The Sleepless, as well as my follow-up novel next year, Kill Her Corpse Dead. Tell everyone you know that a new horror has arrived, African Horror. Blessings.