The creative physician and author of the 2010 novel, Onaedo, was born in England and raised in Nigeria. She lives near Seattle in Washington State, U.S.A., with her two children. She sent a pre-release copy of her very informative and well-written novel to USAfrica early in January 2010, and interviewed on February 15, 2011, on her motivation, reading habits of Africans, the kernel of the Onaedo story and several issues by Chido Nwangwu, the Founder & Publisher of USAfrica, AchebeBooks.com & CLASSmagazine, Houston. Here are excerpts:
1. USAfrica/CLASSmagazine/Chido: Congratulations on your engaging 2010 novel, Onaedo. In your words, give a 100-word, thumbnail summary of the story to the readers of USAfrica and CLASSmagazine.
Ngozi: This is the fictional story of the diaries of an Igbo girl from the sixteenth century and her adventures during the age of Portuguese exploration. It goes into detail of life in an idyllic African community and the existence side by side with the Portuguese merchant sailors. It shows how misunderstandings and blind ambition contributed to the scourge of the African slave trade.
2. How are African-Americans and the Nigerian communities especially receiving it?
Ngozi: It has been very well received, exceeding my expectations and still going strong
3. Your versatile and creative energies in writing so well and so much contrasts with your background as a medical doctor. How do you balance the two?
Ngozi: I’m passionate about medicine and about my writing, and when you have a passion for things you find the time for them.
4. What motivated you to become a writer? And I know that my great mentor is your uncle, the distinguished Prof. Chinua Achebe. Did he influence your interest and this novel?
Ngozi: My love for books and story telling the old fashioned way. Yes I would say that my uncle Chinua Achebe has served as a great inspiration for me. That I’m sure, is no surprise.
5. You recently toured Nigeria, what was the high point of the trip? How is the book doing in terms of sales in Nigeria and here in the U.S.
Ngozi: The high point of my Nigerian trip was the dramatization of this book by the students of the Drama department of the University of Calabar. They even built a miniature ship to go with the story. I thought that was so very innovative.
6. Assess the reading habits of the Nigerian and African communities.
Ngozi: I think we can definitely do better, but I have seen a lot of teenagers reading best sellers. That’s a start.
7. Who are mentors, favorite artistes and writers?
Ngozi: My mentors are Flora Nwapa, my Uncle Chinua and all those others that came before me. One of my favorite books is one I read recently ‘I do Not Come to You by Chance’ by Tricia Adaobi Nwaubani. It was about the fraud schemes called 4-1-9 -from the Nigerian view point. It was such a well written book and so very funny but also had a message.