|Chioma Nnani, Author
BECAUSE HOME IS
FOREVER THERE FOR YOU
Welcome back Chioma Nnani who brings us her second book, BECAUSE HOME IS, “a collection of short stories about finding home, going home, and being home.” Previously, she told us about her novel, FOREVER THERE FOR YOU, a coming-of-age, chick lit, modern romance, contemporary fiction book. She wrote the short stories in BECAUSE HOME IS because she wanted to explore why people run to and away from something—and the concept of home helps answer the question.
In addition to writing, Nnani also started her own publishing house to give herself more control over her own books and also to help “internationalize” African authors’ works for publication. She holds multiple degrees, including a law degree, and has won many awards for her writing. She definitely plans to continue writing and is working on more short stories, her second novel, and a trilogy targeted at teenagers which she plans to release this summer. Given her schedule, her most prized past-time is “sleeping.”
Don't miss the excerpt from BECAUSE HOME IS following the interview.
Q: What drove you to write short stories about BECAUSE HOME IS? Were your experiences with your own home particularly meaningful?
Chioma Nnani: I read a novel a long time ago by Faye Kellerman, in which one of the characters – a police officer – said that everyone is either running away from or towards something. But over time, it dawned on me that people run because they are uncomfortable. Discomfort can come in different ways. You stop running when you have peace. Home is where you have peace.
Q: How do you define “home?” I frequently think of Robert Frost’s definition: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." Would that definition fall within your descriptions or experiences?
Chioma Nnani: Home is a person, place or thing where you can be naked and unashamed. You don't have to run any more when you get home. There are various routes to home because it's different for many people and it takes different lengths of time for everyone to get there. But when you get there, you're there. Safe. You can be challenged or kept on your toes, but you're safe. Home and dry.
Q: Do you believe that the experience of “home” contributes to a positive approach to life? Or do negative people also have a “home” they can relate to? Does even the most heinous criminal comprehend the concept of home?
Chioma Nnani: Hmm … I'd like to think that the contributions of home are always positive and this is bearing in mind that 'positive' is a subjective term. However, there are people who will cover for even the most heinous criminal. And as uncomfortable as that sounds, even they have a home of some sort.
Q: Do you write that home is a concept of the future for people, i.e., it is what we search for? Or is home where we’re from? Both?
Chioma Nnani: I find it tends to be one or the other. Sometimes, you're looking for or you think you're looking for something and there are times when it's right in front of you. Or you find that you're enough.
Q: What would restrict or amplify the meaning of home: wealth, freedom, environment?
Chioma Nnani: Freedom. Freedom in every sense; you can't beat freedom. A place, relationship or job where you have no freedom is a jail cell; that's not home.
Q: You have also published a novel, FOREVER THERE FOR YOU, and have won numerous writing awards, earned an LLB degree, and founded The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd., a publishing company. How do you carve out time to write? Do you have a routine?
Chioma Nnani: (laughing) The company is actually a media and publishing company, so the publishing bit is literally just one department. There's a department that works with entrepreneurs and SMEs, providing done-for-you services to enable them focus on their real business. And there's another department that focuses on screen, stage and audio productions. Another whose remit is online and offline training.
So, I do have a bit of a routine. I work with 90-day plans and each entry on the plan is a specific goal with a definite completion date. So, there are four for this year. We're in March so I'm working my way through the first one and it's going pretty well. It helps me with accountability and discipline, because it's not just about writing down “X must be completed by so-and-so date”. There's also a column in which I write something like “B is the repercussion if X is not completed by the specified date.”
I take a look at the plan twice a week to be sure of where I am and what it is I need to be doing, or even what part of the company needs immediate attention. Many of my blog posts and social media posts are scheduled, so I don't have to live on my social media accounts or on my blogazine. I am very brutal with my time; I don't even attend events or stuff that I don't want or have to.
Q: When would you choose to write a short story over a novel? Is it topic- or plot-related? Or does one require more character development?
Chioma Nnani: Oh gosh, I think a short story takes a level of discipline and bravery that's different from a novel. With a short story, you have it at the back of mind that you've only got so many words to play with. It's not a novel, you don't have the luxury of 80,000 words or whatever. I mean with BECAUSE HOME IS … each story is 5,000 words and having to condense everything – plot, flow, character, climax, everything – in a way that still leaves an impact and is a complete story in itself; it's not hard, it's just different.
Q: What drove you to create your own publishing company?
Chioma Nnani: I wanted more creative control and I like a challenge. And I wanted to help other aspiring authors across Africa who didn't know where to turn. It's one thing to have a company agree to take on your work. It's another thing for the company to respect your work and not strip it of its essence. Many of my authors tell purely Afro-centric stories and it does mean a lot to them to have a publisher who gets where they are coming from and can tweak their voice for an international audience without compromising them.
Q: What writing project are you currently working on? What can we expect to see next: another novel or more short stories?
Chioma Nnani: More short stories. I am actually working on my second full-length novel and a collaborative autobiography. But before those come out, there are three books (a trilogy) aimed at teenagers to be released this summer.
Q: What have you been doing to relax lately, assuming you have time?
Chioma Nnani: Sleep!
About Chioma Nnani
Chioma Nnani is an award-winning storyteller, as well as a two-time UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award nominee, in the 'Best Author' category. Chioma was a 2016 DIVAS OF COLOUR finalist (in the category of “Diva Author”), a 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist (in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”), and was named “One of 100 Most Influential Creatives” in 2016 by C.Hub Magazine. She holds a Law (LLB) degree from the University of Kent and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law (De Montfort University, Leicester). She is the founder of THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD, and runs the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine at www.fearlessstoryteller.com for which she won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award for “Blog of the Year”.
BECAUSE HOME IS … is her second book.
About BECAUSE HOME IS
Some say that "Everyone is running from, or towards something".
But you run till you get 'home'.
Everyone wants to go home. You run till you get 'home'. Because 'home' is that person, thing, or place where you can be naked and unashamed.
BECAUSE HOME IS... is a collection of short stories about finding home, going home, and being home.
They first met in his office. Victor ran a diagnostics outfit in one of the plushest areas of the Nigerian capital – a clinic you went to if you wanted people who knew what they were doing. She had come seeking a second opinion with regard to a blood test she had taken somewhere else. From the second he laid eyes on Patricia Ezekwe, Victor Cobham thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He knew her by reputation; Trisha was the industrious young woman behind a lifestyle brand whose products were sweeping through the African continent like wildfire. Stories of her intelligence preceded her. She looked as good as she sounded; her voice was like music to his ears and the stories of her intelligence preceded her. From what he had heard, brands paid her to mention them on social media. He didn't even understand how that worked, but it seemed to work well for her. She was one of the richest, most eligible spinsters in Abuja. Her honesty was refreshing; if she didn't think something was a good fit for her brand, she would refuse to touch it. She expected the same of the staff employed across the businesses that made up Trisha's Emporium – there was a website through which she sold clothes and other fashion items, sourced from upcoming African designers; a luxury concierge shopping service for the super-wealthy looking into specific pieces of real estate all over the world; and a healthy eating mini-empire, which was responsible for the creation and marketing of cakes, smoothies, fruit drinks, cereals and alkaline water. That was how Trisha managed to have women of different classes, ages and financial standing falling over her – she had at least one product or service aimed at them.
It turned out she had been right to seek a second opinion on her blood test; the previous laboratory results had been flawed due to what turned out to be a clerical error. Victor felt an immense rush of relief, when he told her what she needed to know. Asking her out, hadn't been as easy. There were so many reasons for her not to want him. His last girlfriend had said as much, which was part of the reason that she had become an ex. He didn't even like remembering her. So sour was the taste she had left in his mouth. Yet, there were a lot of things about Trisha that made him feel inadequate.
Victor was one of the most eligible bachelors in the city, but he didn't see himself that way. He was consumed with work and didn't really have time to date. It didn't help that there weren't very many prospects for him to date. The ones who were actually available seemed incapable of holding a conversation. Oh, they were physically beautiful, but they tended to fall short in the brains department; there appeared to be some sort of competition among women to see who could be the least intelligent. It was like it was a badge of honour or something. But it was obvious that Trisha had not received that memo. What was all the more frustrating was that there was no way she would be interested in him.
Trisha found it frustrating, too. She thought she felt vibes that told her that this guy liked her. Yet, he confused her. He wouldn't get too close to her, always acted like he was afraid of touching her. In the end, she was the one who asked him out.
It was something he savoured, jut as much as their kisses. He also enjoyed talking to her and being with her. She was very energetic, and she had a heart of gold. When he told her that he had liaised with some ophthalmologists to quietly give out cataract operations to people who could not afford them, Trisha was dumbfounded. She just did not understand why he was so quiet about it. True, he was telling her but there was no media coverage whatsoever. It took Trisha the next three months to learn a lot of things about him – that he was intelligent and dedicated, kind and thoughtful. She also discovered that she was in love with him.
He told her he loved her. So, the next turn of events shocked her. One day they were talking about the future, the next, she received an email from him saying that he didn't think it wasn't a good idea for them to continue their relationship! When she tried to call him, he ignored her calls. As he did all the text messages she sent. He didn't explain. That was when she got really angry and shot back with a truly scathing email. How dare he do this to her? To them? But his reply had been a curt “Leave me alone.” That really burned. There was no way she was going to his house or office. If he didn't want to be with her, fine!
BECAUSE HOME IS... is available for sale on