Writing Fantasy In Africa
I write books in the least popular genre in my region—fantasy.
African fiction is synonymous with literary and mainstream fiction in poetry and short story form, short story collections, and novels. Success has been limited to authors like Chinua Achebe, Tsitsi Dangarembwa, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Wole Soyinka, and Ngugi wa Thiong’o to name but a few. Markets are also limited to the writer’s local country except where the writer is signed on by an international publisher and becomes an instant celebrity. Over the last decade, African writers like Nnedi Okorafor have expanded into genre fiction, including fantasy.
Writing in most African countries is not perceived as a viable career due to rigid career guidance, lack of opportunities for the aspiring author, and the impossibilities of ever getting a traditional publishing contract. But I learned about Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing in 2013, marveled, experimented, and never looked back. KDP presented not only an opportunity to present my work to readers across borders but also a rare chance to write in a genre that publishers of African Literature almost never consider.
Fantasy enables me to build and destroy worlds different from what I see with my eyes, create characters I can never meet in real life, and transpose real life with the imaginary world in a way that leaves me fulfilled after each book. I take a year to write a book because I run a family-owned ICT company full time, I have a husband and four sons, and I am active in community programs that aim to change people’s lives. So I write in the early morning hours before everyone else wakes up and before my youngest son insists he must type in a letter now and then as I seek to be creative and imaginative. Then it takes a long time to edit the draft because English is not my first language.
In my spare time, I do gardening, a lot of reading and cooking. I have read Animal Farm countless times and marvel at the relevance of a book written in 1945 to our current world. It would be commendable to create a timeless piece that people can still read decades later and enjoy.
My earliest memory of reading is stealing Mills and Boon books from my mother’s bookshelf and hiding them beneath my school textbook if she popped into my room. I wiped out the whole bookshelf before I turned thirteen, and she never knew about it. So I grew up with a partiality towards cowboys and millionaires who I never got to meet, married for love, and don’t regret it.
All my books are self-published on Amazon with a lowest rating of four stars. I will not wait for a literary agent to come knocking, but I will make the most of opportunities presented by Amazon and live my dreams.
Besides The Destination Series which trails the adventures of American twins, Shaun and Stan, across mysterious places in Africa, I also write contemporary fiction in short story collections. Shadows, Darkness & Light, available on Amazon, is a twelve-story collection about women in different difficult situations making decisions that affect them and those around them.
I live in a patriarchal society that is adjusting to adjustments in sensitive gender issues. My book explores the emotions of women against this background. I write short stories to retain my sanity and bring my mind back to the present. But with fantasy, I am home.