Tuesday 3 July 2018

Interview: Kenechukwu Obi

For this week's interview, I'm chatting with Kenechukwu Obi, author of thriller novel End it by the Gun. Keep on reading to find out more about the book and the man behind the story!

Firstly, please could you introduce yourself?
My name is Kenechukwu Obi, but you can call me Ken if you have a hard time pronouncing my first name. I was born of Nigerian parents and immigrated to Canada where I gained admission to study Business Administration at the University of Regina.
How did you first become interested in writing?
I think my love for telling stories in different literary genres began with a strong interest I have in watching movies. As I watched more and more movies, I began telling myself that I could tell stories such as the ones in the movies I was watching. Movies like Coming to America, Splash, Forrest Gump, Pretty Woman, The Woman in Red, the 1992 Nigerian two-part thriller film, Living in Bondage, and the screen adaptation of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet are some of the iconic movies that had strong influences on me. That was how I was drawn into putting words together to make stories. I actually started by writing for the screen and later switched to poetry, then to plays, children’s fiction and short stories before I started writing novels and song lyrics.
end-it-by-the-gun, kenechukwu-obi, book

Tell me about the book.
End it by the Gun is a novel that was born out of the drive I always have to do something unusual in the ways I tell each of my stories. I wanted to create a story with an unusual storyline that will ‘arrest’ readers from the very first sentence and never let them go until they get to the last word.  
Strong ambition drives Beck Blades, an aspiring writer from rural Nebraska, to become obsessed with having big Hollywood studios make movies based on his fiction stories. Taking a heavy toll on his marriage, Beck’s writing ambition soon proves hard to achieve. However, he is not a man to give up, even as rejections trail his efforts. He continues to write one fiction story after another with no breakthrough until he writes his eleventh one, the unusual one, which grabs headlines through an unexpected route. Success begins for Beck, but little does he know his female literary agent has an extra plan way beyond representation.
What’s the best thing about writing fiction?
For me, writing fiction is about having unlimited freedom to fully mine the imagination. And suddenly, what has never been in existence starts to exist and make some impact, be it in the form of a novel, a play, poetry, screenplay for a movie or for television or lyrics for a song. Again, what makes it so cool is that you mostly need no permission to make your decision to create what you want to create.
Did you find writing the book a challenge?
Writing a book presents challenges, like all other endeavours in life. It was challenging to create the characters in End it by the Gun, and get them to function in such a way that they effectively help to move the plot along, keeping readers engaged and filling them with a reading experience they will relish long after the last word in the last page is read.
What’s your writing process like?
It all starts when inspiration for a story hits me like a tonne of bricks. I usually start by putting down my ideas in chunks - tidbits here and there, which will later be the foundation for my first draft. Once the first draft is done, I then have something to work on in terms of further development. I would let friends take a look at it - anyone, even somebody who is nobody when it comes to things of literature. This helps me see my ‘unborn baby’ from different perspectives based on what my initial readers think – what they like and dislike and their suggestions. Then I get back to work, through which the second draft emerges. This is the stage I will have it sent to editors for their professional touch and insights. It was in 2011 that I got to the point I knew I was confident enough to start sending out End it by the Gun to publishers.
What’s the hardest thing about writing?
It’s the part where you go several months without having any story idea that comes to life in your mind and imagination, and tugging at you to get to work on getting it out and into your computer, where it starts its journey, possibly, into the hearts and minds of millions of readers worldwide.
What do you love most about writing?
It brings me pleasure. It lets me be me. It’s an amazing channel of communication. It enables me to create my characters’ world as I like. Writing is life. The creativity with which words are woven in the writing process, to create emotions readers take away, is just so fulfilling.
kenechukwu-obi, author

Which authors inspire you?
Halan Coben, Sandra Brown, Steven King, J.K. Rowling. The list is long. I’ve read Chinua Achebe’s novels and the plays of Wole Soyinka. These great writers also had influences on me.
What are you currently working on?
I have finished working on another novel. It has been edited as well. The manuscript may have been gathering dust in my computer hardware now if that’s possible. The title is Taste for Change: The Girl, the Snake and the One who Returned. And right now I am working on another novel titled Waiting for You.
What are you reading at the moment?
I am reading a book I’ve been wanting to read for a long time. It is The Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling. I know I should have read it a long time ago. But hey, I’m enjoying it!
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
My ambition is to keep enjoying writing in whatever form I do it, either fiction or non-fiction. I want to be able to put more of my books out for readers to read and tell me what they think. I would like to have my plays come to life in theatres. I would love to have my stories in movies and television pictures too.
What are your interests outside of writing and reading?
I like to listen to music, watch movies, television, talk-shows and lots of YouTube musical videos. I love to tune in to wildlife channels and watch the earth’s amazing diversity of plants and animals. When time permits, I also love to catch up with what’s making news, talk politics, the weather and any other thing that catches my fancy.
End it by the Gun is available to buy now. For more about Kenechukwu Obi and his writing, check out his website.

Will you be reading the book? Let me know in the comments below!

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