"I was born in the car, on the way to the hospital. My father says I saved him a lot of money in medical bills, which is a good thing, right? I went to Lydia schools, a private nursery and primary school in Benin, and then Federal Government Girls College, Benin, where I discovered the best library I have ever known. After that, I studied Architecture in FUT, Akure, moved to Lagos for youth service and work. I currently work at a marvelous Architectural firm in Lagos, and study some more Architecture, at the University of Lagos".
MO: Why did you decide to write?
Somi Ekhasomhi: I did not decide to write. I decided to study Architecture as opposed to Engineering; I decided to move to Lagos. Writing was never a decision; it has always been a part of my life. I started reading early, from Ladybird books, to Enid Blyton, to my older cousin’s Mills and Boon romances, to my father’s Ken Follet and Jackie Collins novels, I read them all, even the ones I was too young to read.
When one reads so much, I guess writing comes naturally. My imagination was so thoroughly fed that it was impossible for me not to create stories of my own. I have been writing stories since I was a little girl, entertaining my family with anything I could think up in my head. I still have old notebooks filled with stories written in Bic that I wrote years ago. It is who I am.
MO: How did you decide upon the titles of your novels?SE. Instinct and hard thinking. From the conceptual stage of the novel, I spend a lot of time thinking of names, writing down ideas, and then going with the name that evokes the story the most.
MO: What inspired you to write Lagos Romance Series?
SE: To say the truth, "Always Yours" has been with me since before my university days. I wrote a few pages in some old notebook back then, but there was never enough time to finish it. Last year, I decided that I was going to finish a book no matter what. To motivate myself, I decided to publish it as a blog serial at my blog www.lagosromanceseries.com At first, I had only a handful of readers, but then it got really popular, with people eagerly waiting for the next chapters. This was a good thing as it inspired me to finish the book.
MO: More sequels?
SE: Oh yes! I want to write lots and lots of romances set in Lagos. The stories and characters are all in my head screaming to be let out.
MO: What did you enjoy most about the writing process?
SE: I love when the story just flows out of my fingers. That happens when you love your characters and you give them life. That way it feels more as if you’re writing about real people than trying to create fiction.
I love creating stories in my head, I also love making them work, that part is almost like Architectural design for me, you have to make all the parts of the story fit into place.
The part I don’t enjoy so much… editing and looking for mistakes.
SE: Yes! I really liked Michael, I really did. In fact, I may have loved him for more than a minute. However, nothing prepared me for Eddie Bakare. Eddie was perfect. When I was writing "Hidden Currents", I was totally in love with him.
MO: I too was in love with Eddie Bakare. It’s a pity he is only a fictitious character. Is your love life as romantic as that of your characters?
SE: Yes, of course! *smiles* I am in a committed relationship and I love my man with all my heart. Every day he shows me again and again, how special I am to him…. What more can a girl want?
MO: Do you plan to be a full time writer in the future?
SE: Well, for now, I couldn't really say, I have a full time job, in an Architectural firm in Lagos, and I love it. I love being an Architect. For now, I can only say, I hope to one-day find a workable balance between my writing and my career in Architecture.
MO: Aren`t you afraid to be pigeonholed as a romance writer?
SE: No, I love romance, I love writing it. I love the way it makes people feel. The truth is almost every fiction has romance in it, because love is a very important part of being an adult.
I have all sorts of stories floating around in my head, thrillers, fantasies, historical fiction etc. and I will write them all in the future. However, I don’t regret starting with romance at all.
MO: Who are your target audience?
SE: My romance novels are for everyone who likes love, romance, and happy endings, which is everyone, I think. We are all born to love, and we all hope for happy endings, even the most cynical of us. My books may appeal more to a Nigerian or African audience, home and abroad, who find that they can relate with the characters. However, everyone can enjoy them.
MO: How did you find the publishing process?
SE: I self-publish, for me it’s been very hassle free. I have never submitted a manuscript to a traditional publisher, perhaps I will, in the future. For now, the simple steps of self-publishing really work well for me.
MO: Your third novel Jungle Justice is more of a short story and not a novel, moreover it is not romantic. What compelled you to write it?
SE: Many things, I have always wanted to write something about the particularly brutal form of Jungle Justice that sometimes occurs in Nigeria. The terrifying execution by tire and petrol, and after the horrifying killings of fours students in Port Harcourt, Nigeria last year, by that method, it became imperative to write it.
I played with many ways to write the story, through the eyes of a foreign journalist... Etc. Finally I decided to do it through the eyes of a house girl. The house girl is an intriguing character in the Nigerian society, in that she is hardly ever considered a real person. For most people, the house girl is an instrument, and in most stories, she is stereotyped and caricatured. I wanted to write about the house girl as a human being. So, I combined the character of the house girl and the event of Jungle Justice into a single short story.
MO: Any African writers that inspire you?
SE: Oh many, I still remember the first time I read Purple Hibiscus. I was filled with awe. Chimamanda Adichie inspires me, I have read everything she’s written.
Growing up, I loved Cyprian Ekwensi. His books for children were genius. He wrote characters from all over the country. Even as a child, I got the impression that, he was essentially detribalised. I also loved The Mysterious Ebony Carver, a book I read when I was really young, though I can’t remember the name of the writer.
Writers like Sefi Atta, Lola Shoneyin, Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani, and many more have also inspired me.
MO: The Mysterious Ebony Carver was written by Uyi Ibizugbe. What do you love most about Mary Okeke Reviews?
SE: I love the insightful reviews I always find there! I have added it to the blogs I follow so that I get to read reviews as soon as they are posted. I love that African stories and writers are given a voice and a platform to be heard.
MO: Reading any book at the moment?
SEI am always reading something; I just finished Bergdorf Blondes by Plum Sykes, Closer Than a Brother by Nkem Ivara, another Nigerian Romance writer, the Great Gatsby, 1984 by George Orwell, Easy by Tamara Webber. I am reading the Game of Thrones books again, and waiting impatiently for my copy of Americanah by Chimamanda Adichie to be delivered on my Kindle.
MO: Where can your books be purchased?
SE: My books are all available in the Amazon Kindle store.
Always Yours is also available to order as a paperback from Amazon here.
MO: How can your readers contact you?