What fun giving answers to these questions – fellow writers, help yourselves!
What is the working title of your book? Night Must Wait and it looks like this will be the final title too.
Where did the idea come from for the book? I grew up in Nigeria and loved the wondrous opportunities this gave me. However, when I was about ten years old the country split on ethnic and religious lines in civil war, with the area I lived in declaring independence as the nation of Biafra. My family was evacuated with other expatriate families.
What genre does your book fall under? I’d answer that it straddles. This is a story of strong women in jeopardy, whose intrinsic flaws emerge under the fantastic pressures of being outsiders caught up in an intimate conflict. So it’s a thriller, it’s a war adventure and perhaps it’s even a women’s book though I believe it will appeal beyond gender lines! In fact all the authors writing my blurbs are men, something I didn’t realize until the other day.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Oh my, that is an indulgent question. Clare Danes for the ornithologist spy Wilton, Kate Winslet for Doctor Gilman, and Russell Crowe for the mercenary Jantor. Lynn Collins for Lindsey Kinner the calculating powerful economist, Scarlett Johanssen for the geologist Sandy, and Tony Kgoroge for my man without a tribe, Oroko.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? Four American women friends pursue power in Africa, when the explosion of the Nigerian civil war triggers civil war between them.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? I’ve been fortunate to have Toni Lopopolo as my agent and she made the match between my book and an independent publisher, Imajin Books.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? Insane howls of laughter here! My first draft I wrote in less than six months but that was back in 1976. I have rewritten it an uncounted number of times since, most successfully with Toni Lopopolo giving the kind of help as an editor that I’d been warned never to dream of in my wildest fantasies. She’s brilliant.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? It’s a cross-over genre but perhaps Forsythe’s The Dogs of War, or Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Adichie, and I could wish that some parts might have a touch of the haunting that Christopher Abani achieves in his Song For Night, about Biafran child-soldiers in the Nigerian civil war.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? My ever present feeling of being an alien in every place I have lived, however much I have loved it, and the knowledge that of the things you can change, or people you can help it has to be done one piece at a time, never from a position of patronage, never fuelled by any illusion of superiority or righteousness. My parents, who took us to Africa and let us have years there, is the other answer.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Mystery and murders, a touch of romance, though I will warn you that never for any of my women is a man the center of her universe– and a sense of the wondrous world and ever changing beauty of Africa and her people. I hope I open a door in your mind, so that you participate in a place you’ve never been, become people who never were, caught up in a real crisis in a time that was real too.