Unoma Nwankwor writes Christian Fiction and Sweet Contemporary Romance that span Africa and the African Diaspora. She weaves romantic tales for readers who enjoy stories centered around faith, family, and the rich culture of Africa. Through the pages, she promises you humor, tight hugs, forehead kisses, and above all else, redemptive, sacrificial love.
Her readers are in love with her unique way of telling stories that capture the essence of her present home base in the USA and her Nigerian culture. Unoma wears many hats, but the one she’s most proud of is, mother of two kids and wife to her film director husband.
You can catch her writing from the comfort of her bedroom nook with a pack of pepperoni slices and a cup of java.
1) First, I want to thank you for taking the time to do this interview with me! When did you know that writing is what you were called to do? What is it about being a writer that you love the most? What about being a writer frustrates you the most?
Hi, thank you so much for having me. I’ve had a love of writing since I was a teen. As an introvert I was always in my head and writing down the people I see. Writing was something I knew I could do but didn’t think I was qualified to. Or that anyone would be interested in what I had to say. In 2012, on a routine business trip, I became ill on the plane. It was so bad that an ambulance was waiting for me at the tarmac. After an ICU stint, a slow recovery and a lot of negotiations with God, I realized that qualification was His. So I rose up to the call and I haven’t looked back ever since. That however, doesn’t mean I haven’t wanted to quit many times. The thing I love the most about writing is the fact that I get to immerse myself into the world of fictional people and tell stories of hope, faith and family. The most frustrating thing about it is that writing a good story is only half the job. I have to tell people about the story and ‘peopling’ isn’t my greatest strength.
2) Can you tell us a little about your book(s) and where our readers can find out more about them and you?
I’m a first generation Nigerian American. I’ve had the fortunate opportunity to live in my home country of Nigeria and currently the United States. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ and a sucker for the happily ever after. So when I got ready to write fiction I decided to write about what makes me…me. I’m passionate about, my culture, faith and happy endings. So, I write sweet and Christian contemporary romances featuring Africans. The settings of my novels span Africa and the Diaspora. Readers can find out more on my website www.unomanwankwor.com
3) What projects are you currently working on?
Right now I’m working on a small town second chance romance. Although my books are stand alone novels, there is interconnectivity between them because of the family dynamic. Currently I’m writing the second book from my DuBois-Arazi family. The DuBois- Arazis are four siblings who run a family luxury resort and spa in the small town of Tweede Kans Cove in Morocco in North Africa. The first book is my 2020 Christmas release, A Promise Fulfilled.
4) What has been your most significant achievement as a writer thus far? Where do you see yourself within your career in the next five years?
Hmmm, that a very good question and quite frankly one I haven’t really stopped to consider. It’s a bad habit of mine where I seldom celebrate myself. I would say though maybe a cross between winning an award for Best Faith writer from the Nigerian writer’s Association and my first novel being used for reference in a Bowie State University workshop on “Christian Romance Noels Through the Eyes of West African Women” In five years I hope to still be telling the stories I love and also be able to offer other upcoming writers with a similar vision the same opportunity.
5) How have you dealt with rejection within your writing career?
Because of my unique niche; closed door(no sex on the page) African romances, I’ve dealt with my share of rejection from those who think they can’t relate to “African stories.” After the initial sting, I chuckle because my stories are human stories which just happen to feature African people. However to deal with the rejection, I try to remember that my job is to be obedient, write my stories, do my part and allow God do His. I’m not for everyone and that’s okay. My tribe will find me eventually. If a door closes in my face, then it wasn’t mine to walk through.
6) Do you have a schedule for when you write? Do you outline your novels? How long does it generally take you to finish a novel?
Over the course of my seven year career my writing process has changed. I now give myself permission to not be so rigid and offer myself grace. To answer your question specifically, during my writing season, I do schedule my writing. Despite popular opinion, it’s not everyday…LOL. I consider myself a hybrid between a panster and a plotter. I always have a broad outline but I’m flexible with it. Usually my novels range from 75-95K words, with a full time job and a family, I can complete a first draft in two to three months.
7) Do you believe that there is ever a point in life where it’s too late for an aspiring writer to become successful in this industry? Do you feel a late start would hinder their chances?
The short answer to both questions is no. However everyone’s definition of success is different. So to properly measure success, the aspiring author has to first define what it means to them and stay rooted to their ‘why’. Equipped with those two things, it’s never late to achieve anything.
8) Are you an avid reader and have you always been? What’s the first book you ever read that really touched you emotionally and moved you? Who is your favorite author? What book are you currently reading?
Oh yes. I consider myself an avid, border line stalker-ish reader…LOL. Once I find a book I love, I make it my mission to devour the author’s backlist, upcoming releases and I spread the word. There have been so many memorable books I have come across but the one that stands out is my first Christian romance read, For Love and Grace by Kendra Norman Bellamy. I can’t name any one author as an absolute favorite. I have many so we’ll be here all day. Currently, I’m reading Reel by Kennedy Ryan.
9) The Pandemic was a challenging time for some writers and creative individuals but also for others it was time that they needed to focus on their creative passions. Which side of that spectrum do you fall on? Are there any lessons or nuggets of wisdom that you gained during the Pandemic that help you within your writing career? Did the quarantine stifle your creativity or did it make you even more driven to get things done?
As with most people the pandemic taxed me mentally and emotionally. All my plans went down the drain. At first I fretted, but as time went on, I entered surrender mode. My creativity was stifled and that taught me to be kinder to myself. It was okay that I wasn’t writing. We were in unprecedented times and I governed myself accordingly. I put down the Christian romance I was writing that dealt with very heavy topics of grief and regret and tried my hand on sweet billionaire romances that turned out to be a huge hit. So even though the billionaire novellas weren’t in my initial plan, it turned out good for me.
10) What are your thoughts about how the publishing industry as it is being represented today? Do you lean more towards traditional publishing or self-publishing as a preference? Does being a hybrid author interest you?
I am an Indie author, I like the freedom that publishing option provides. Traditional publishing on the other hand does have its perks. In an ideal world being a hybrid author is my dream. However I’ve tried to get into the traditional publishing arena but was told there is no audience for African contemporary romances. It seems that stories centering on the white savior and Black pain are preferred and since I’ll never write that kind of story, there’s been a slim window of opportunity. I’m hopeful though, that with the events of 2020 around race, the call for diverse stories is not just for show but rather will lead to an actual shift in traditional publishing as it was once known.
11) I feel like writing is a remarkable tool to help people not only express themselves, but also to cope emotionally and mentally. I know for me I write to be and feel more authentic. What unique quality is there about you, about your art, that you feel represents your authenticity? How does writing help you to be more empowered in your purpose?
I refer back to my answer to the second question above when I described my books. Having lived in Africa and currently, North America, I know first hand the misconception both places have about the other. There are no wild animal walking the streets of Africa, neither is all of America glitzy and glamorous. Through writing, my mission is to entertain, edify while educating about the Continent. I want to offer my readers a way in to see a different Africa than the poverty stricken one shown in the media. An Africa vibrant with culture, food, music, style, language and beautiful sights. That is my unique stance that empowers my purpose.
This has been a real pleasure, thank you for having me.