Myne Whitman is the best-selling Nigerian romance writer of ‘A heart to mend,’ and ‘Love rekindled’; she is a blogger, ePublisher, and founder of Naijastories.com, a website which she created to promote and support Nigerian literature. A member of the Pacific Northwest Writers Association, Myne [who writes under a pseudonym and whose real name I know, but shall keep under wraps], is live on Konnect Africa, answering never before asked questions, and spilling all the beans!!! So of course the first question I asked had to do with the name. Did she tell? Read and discover!
KA: Why did you decide to write with a pen name?
Myne: For the separation between my person and the author personality. I don’t know if writing will be my career for the rest of my life so I kind of gave myself a wiggle room, LOL…
KA: Can you give everyone a sneak peek to your true identity?
Myne: My pen name is a transliteration of my real maiden name. I like to leave that element of mystery for those who like to solve puzzles to sniff it out.
KA: What is your ethnicity? Who are your parents?
Myne: I am from Asaba, Delta State and my parents live there now. They are both retired civil servants, my mum was a teacher and headmistress, and still works in the private school system.
KA: Growing up; where did you grow up? What experiences stand out in your growing years? Did they make or mar you?
Myne: I was born and grew up in Enugu and was there till my middle teenage years when my parents moved back to our home state. I was a tomboy for a while and loved nothing but playing footie and climbing trees. But I also loved reading when inside and from there bloomed my love of stories and books.
KA: Education; Where and what did you study?
Myne: I studied in several schools. Ekulu Primary School and Queens School in Enugu, Special Science School as well as the Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Anambra, and then I got my Master’s degree at the University of Edinburgh.
KA: What inspires you to put pen to paper? And when did you first say, “Wow, I can spend the rest of my life doing this?”
Myne: The stories I come across on a daily basis inspire me. And I am also a daydreamer. Right now, I don’t know that I’ll do it forever, but while I’ doing it full time, I intend to give it my best.
KA: Do you ever tire of writing? Does it ever bore you?
Myne: Not at all. But I try to keep it versatile by reading when I’m not writing.
KA: As an author of two feature novels, pecking at a keyboard all day can get tedious. What keeps you going even when your fingers grow weary?
Myne: I learnt to take breaks often and that helps. But really, when the story is flowing and the characters are talking to you, you don’t really feel the strain.
KA: Ever had the dreaded “Writers Block?”
Myne: This is what all writers dread, and it is this period that you remember the pain in your fingers and arms and shoulders. Then even your stomach will be part of the problem, LOL…
KA: You run a website for Nigerian writers? Do tell us about that.
Myne: NaijaStories.com came as an idea from my experience sharing excerpts from my first novel on my blog, and later coordinating an online interactive story. I found out about other writing sites like Authonomy, joined some of them and then realized that Nigerian aspiring writers could benefit from such a platform as a way to improve and network. Today Naijastories.com is the leading community for Nigerian writers and book lovers, combining elements of a writing critique website and a social networking site.
The mission of Naija Stories is to use community networking to encourage and support aspiring writers to improve their writing and feel more confident sharing stories from a Nigerian perspective. We also aim to encourage reading amongst the general public by making such engaging stories available on Naijastories.com, on other available partnering channels, and in anthologies. With our mix of content and activities, Naija Stories is especially versatile, attracting a diverse crop of readers, writers, and those with general interest in Nigerian literary affairs. We’re committed to telling fresh Nigerian stories; and we also promote authors and book publishers by sharing publishing news, events and literary opportunities.
KA: Who sponsors the prizes that are given away?
Myne: Sometimes we, my partner and I do sponsor the contests, but we are also able to bring in external sponsors, those who love writing and writers too. Like Ikhide Ikheloa, Chika Unigwe, and the Worldreader group.
KA: Talking about sponsorship, people have been of the opinion that writers, at least in Africa earn next to nothing. Is that true? Have you ever regretted your decision to write?
Myne: I have not regretted it. But there is a lot of truth in that saying. The market for books is still not comprehensive in Africa yet, I am lucky that my books have found a global audience. I do not earn exclusively from my book royalties, I also had to diversify and earn from my blogs.
KA: Good quality print is so expensive in Nigeria [Have you ever printed/published a book in Nigeria?] And bookstores charge an arm and a leg to display an author’s books for sale.
Myne: Very true, my first book was published in print in Nigeria and I was not totally satisfied with the result. I had to ship copies of the second one, A Love Rekindled, from the US. And it doesn’t help that some bookstores charge almost half of your book price to display books. It makes it hard for authors who are already struggling.
KA: As a widely travelled author, is this what obtains in other countries?
Myne: To be honest, some bookstores here in the US give the same rates, the mitigating factor is that the author knows they can sell most of the books. Where an American author can be sure of up to 1 million books sold, a Nigerian author would be lucky to shift 10,000.
KA: I forsee a Konnect Africa/Myne Whitman Writers Workshop ‘collabo’ in the near future; How does that sound to you?
Myne: It sounds fantastic. Let me know whenever I am in Nigeria.
KA: Everyone is a writer these days; how does one know if they have got what it takes?
Myne: Just read their work. The internet is a leveler, but it can act as a qualifier too. I always ask, show me the link to your blog.
KA: Do share a writing tip that you have found useful.
Myne: Just keep writing, and then rewrite, rewrite, rewrite.
KA: So is Myne married? Does she have children?
Myne: I am married, but no children yet.
KA: Where do you live now? Any plans to return to Africa on a permanent basis?
Myne: I live in Seattle USA; plans to return are on the back burner for now.
KA: Life is…
Myne: What you make of it.
KA: Inspire an African youth with one sentence.
Myne: Be yourself and never give up.