INTERVIEW | Jola Naibi, author of Terra Cotta Beauty @jolanaibi

INTERVIEW | Jola Naibi, author of Terra Cotta Beauty @jolanaibi

jola_naibi_photoTell us about yourself.
I am an eclectic polyglot with an over-active imagination who loves reading (anything that is not too technical or scientific), writing (fiction and non-fiction), collecting quotations (anything that is charming, witty, insightful and inspiring and listening to music (as long as it is not crude, suggestive, vulgar or offensive). I was raised in Lagos, Nigeria and spent a number of years in Europe (the United Kingdom and Switzerland) and now live in the United States. I recently published my first book of short stories – centered on life in Lagos, Nigeria during the era of military rule

How do you find time to connect with God?
I connect with God all the time, because I believe He is present at all times. I thank Him when things are going well, I seek His counsel and guidance in times of desperation and uncertainty. I never wanted to be one of those Christians who checks in with the Father when things go wrong. I feel I am in constant touch with Him and do not need to find a special time to connect with Him because He is always with me.

Who are your favorite authors? Favorite books?
My favorite authors/books are a very wide range, but here are just a few – Amy Tan (Saving Fish from Drowning), Isabel Allende (Island Beneath the Sea), Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland), Anita Rau Baudami (A Hero’s Walk), Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (Americanah), Sade Adeniran (Imagine This), Sembene Ousmane (God Bits of Wood)

Tell us about your journey to publication.
It was a very interesting journey for me. I had been writing short stories for about seven years, primarily because I was a little bit nostalgic for life in Lagos (especially in the winter when the temperatures were frigid). About two years ago, I realized that I had close to twenty stories that I had written and I thought it might be a good idea to put them all together in a book. I did not want to go through the whole rigmarole of having to search for an agent and get a publishing deal, so I started to explore options available for authors who would like to self-publish. At same time, I was working on the stories to see which ones I thought could be in a collection and I narrowed them down to seven. I also wanted there to be some connection between the characters so for some stories I modified the plot a little or changed the ending to create some sort of cohesion to the stories. The self-publishing option worked perfectly for me. I chose CreateSpace which is run by the folks at Amazon. I liked the services that they provided because it was not too demanding and they have a suite of services so you can choose which package works for you, plus they also cover the marketing side of things which if you are author who is self-published and navigating the waters for the very first time, it can be pretty daunting

PP Native Cover.4388980.inddTell us about your current book, Terra Cotta Beauty?
It is called Terra Cotta Beauty and is a collection of seven short stories which examines life in Lagos, Nigeria during the era of military rule. It reveals the struggles, loves, and hopes of a disparate group of people whose lives always manage to intersect – sometimes in the most devastating ways. With each brief conversation and split second decision containing consequences that reach further than anyone could ever imagine, each of the book’s seven tales is a delicate thread that helps form the social fabric of a nation divided. From a woman whose journalist husband is jailed for criticizing the government to a young man’s reluctant descent into crime, Terra Cotta Beauty acts as a carefully crafted ode to the essence of Lagos itself: its people.

How did you come up with ideas for this book?
It was very easy actually. A number of the scenes and stories in the book are based on actual events which I encountered personally or which were narrated to me. In several instances, I put a creative spin on it, to make it a little bit more captivating, all to say it is fiction.

What valuable lessons do you want readers to learn from your book?
One of the many things that motivated me to write this book was the realization that there are so many unsung heroes in this world. Not just in Lagos where I grew up, but across the world. It was Mary Anne Radmacher who said “Courage does not always roar. Sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow'” and I think that is powerful. If readers can take anything away from the book, it is that reassurance that whatever it is that we are going through, there is always tomorrow to try again and I have tried to make that visible in the stories in the book

What’s next for you?
Marketing Terra Cotta Beauty is taking a lot of creative energy and it is fun, yet time-consuming. I am also in the process of working on my first full-length novel which I am hoping will be published in 2016

Please tell us where we can connect with you online.

You can join the Terra Cotta Beauty community on Facebook:
On Twitter: @jolanaibi
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