Amaka Azie is author of Thorns and Roses, she was born in Lagos, grew up between Lagos and Abuja. She studied Medicine and Surgery at the university of Benin City, Nigeria and currently lives in Wirral peninsula with her husband and daughters.
Mary Okeke: Do you write for a living?
Amaka Azie: No. At least not yet. I am a part-time family Doctor. But I have always wanted to write. It had been a desire of mine since I was a teenager. After I met with a published author who encouraged me to go for it, I decided to follow my dreams. I am glad I did.
AA: A few friends and relatives of mine often expressed feelings of discontentment growing up in a home without any male child. They often told me they felt like a disappointment to their parents, like their family wasn’t quite complete without a male child– A heir. I wanted to incorporate that into a love story and that was when the idea of Thorns and Roses came to me. I have loved romance novels since I was a teenager but found a few with African characters written by Africans, romance novels I could relate to. In fact, I noticed that literature written about Africa was often clouded with negativity and I detested that. I wanted to write about love and romance with an African setting. Thorns and Roses is a contemporary romance fiction set in Lagos, Nigeria. I wanted to showcase a vibrant and exciting Nigeria that the media does not often show. A Nigeria where love, education, wealth and family exists. The Nigeria I experienced.
MO: That was my Nigeria too. What did you enjoy most about writing this novel?
AA: My favourite part writing Thorns and Roses was exploring the family dynamics between Ifeoma and her sisters, and Chuma and his siblings. I come from a large family, and some of my favourite memories are of heated discussions with my siblings about love, politics or even simple issues like what to have for dinner. Writing about the relationship between Ifeoma and her sisters was my favourite part. In this book, Ifeoma is a protective big sister and her sisters always seemed to seek her permission for everything. Also, Chuma and his siblings are from a wealthy background and their discussions were often different from the kinds of conversations Ifeoma and her sisters had. I enjoyed writing their dialogue.
MO: You have a well written sex scene between Ifeoma and Chuma, how do you approach sex in literary novels?
AA: Thanks. Thorns and Roses is a romance novel, and sex is a vital part of romance and relationships. I hate reading a romance novel where the author skilfully creates sexual tension but fails to demonstrate how the sexual tension resolves. It’s like having a delicious meal without desert. I approach writing about sex from an emotional angle. I focus on the emotions the characters are experiencing during sex, rather than the act itself. In some of the best sex scenes I have read, the author described the sexual act subtly without it being crass. Although I do know some readers who prefer reading audacious in–your-face sexual scenes. I guess it depends on the author’s target audience.
MO:Who are your target audience?
AA: In a dream world, I am tempted to say everyone. But in reality, my target audience are people who love to read multicultural contemporary romance fiction novels, women fiction, and books with a strong female lead.
MO: Your novel is published by Accomplished Press, how was your experience?
AA: My experience with Accomplish Press has been extremely positive. They not only helped with publishing my novels but also with developing my skills as a budding author.
MO: I like your book cover; those two I guess are Ifeoma and Chuma, with Lagos as the backdrop, correct? Did you design the book cover yourself?
AA: Thanks. I love the cover too. Yes, that’s Chuma and Ifeoma on the cover with Lagos skyline as the backdrop. An interesting fact about this cover was that I had already written the novel before I started with the process of finding a cover. It was very hard to find models that looked like my description of Ifeoma and Chuma. After a frantic and difficult search, suitable models were eventually found. The cover was designed by Lovebites and Silk and not me.
MO: What are you reading at the moment?
AA: I’m currently reading A Lover’s Vow by Brenda Jackson. It is a contemporary African American Romance fiction.
MO: Any African writers that inspire you?
AA: Many. I love finding books written by African authors. Especially women fiction or contemporary romance fiction. The Concubine, a novel written by Elechi Amadi was the first book that made me want to write. It was so beautifully written that I read it many times. I still have a hard copy of that book which I carry with me everywhere I move. Helen Ovbiaghele is another African author that inspired me to write. She wrote many interesting novels for Pacesetters that were popular in the nineties. Other African authors that inspire me include Kiru Taye, Tolulope Popuola, Nana Prah, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Ola Nubi amongst others. I love these authors because their books are set in Africa and I can relate with their characters.
MO: How did you find out about Mary Okeke reviews and what do you like about it?
AA: A friend of mine who is also an author told me she trusts the reviews posted on Mary Okeke review blog. She told me if I wanted honest feedback, that was the place to go. I admit I read all the reviews from books on the website and decided to go for it. I want to grow as an author and accepting honest constructive criticism is the best way to do that. I love the honesty of the reviews and the way the reviews are written in a constructive way.
MO: Thank you. Let me say that I really enjoyed reading Thorna and Roses. Click here to read review. Where can yourbook be purchased?
AA: Thorns and Roses is available on Amazon US and Amazon UK as eBook and paper copies. Also, available as ebook from online retailers like iBook, nook, kobo, Smashwords and Okadabooks.
MO: How can your readers contact you?
MO: Thank you.
AA: Thank you for having me. It was a pleasure chatting with you.