Myne Whitman is the author of two romance novels, ‘A Heart to Mend’, and ‘A Love Rekindled’, and, if I may be so daring as to say so, the resurrector of the romance genre in modern Nigerian literature. Her achievements go far beyond being a Kindle UK bestseller, as in years since her inspired contributions on the Narialand forum – where I first chanced upon her – she has helped aspiring Nigerian writers find an audience through her websites, Mynewhitmanwrites and Naijastories. As she launches volume one of the Naija Stories anthology: ‘Of Tears and Kisses, Heroes and Villains’, Myne takes time out to share her thoughts on how she’s spectacularly exceeded her modest forecast of selling a hundred copies of her first book; the hi-falutin minds of the Nobel Prize panel; and The Road that, sadly, remains famished despite having claimed the Booker Prize.
Which of your major characters would you like to be trapped on a desert island with?
I find Kevwe, the main character in my second novel, A Love Rekindled, very intriguing. He’s strong and at the same time is very open with his emotions, not afraid to admit he’s sensitive, something most men are loath to do. I’ll definitely like to spend some more time with him.
What is the first thing you remember writing?
Apart from the usual compositions in primary school, I remember writing short stories about two girls getting into adventures during travels with their parents in Nigeria. I must have been between 10 and 13 then. Unfortunately, since we moved cities and homes, I don’t know where those early writings are now.
Since I sold more than 100 copies of my first book, A Heart to Mend, I’m impressed each time I find that another of my books has sold. That was the number of followers on my blog, and the figure I gave my partner when he asked for a realistic estimate before we embarked on the publishing journey. Since then AHTM has gone on to become a Kindle UK bestseller with over 20,000 copies downloaded. Now that is amazing!
What one book by another author do you wish you’d written?
I’m lucky not to have that feeling about books. I thrive on variety and on prisms. I crave different sides to many views, but I have only experienced so much, or know so little. So for me, books are a way to reach out and embrace the world through the eyes and minds of various authors. The book wouldn’t be same if I had written it, and I don’t wish I had.
Name one author that you consider overrated.
This seems disrespectful, but did The Famished Road really win that award?
Achebe or Soyinka?
I may be a bit biased since I recently met Wole Soyinka at the 2010 Garden City Literary Festival. Anyway, it’s been years since I read any of their literature, and it was mostly for school coursework. I’ve read their essays more recently, and both are minds we need to pay attention to. In terms of what each is doing, I’ll say they are on different sides of the divide; Soyinka is more political while Achebe stays truer to the pen.
Sell a million copies or win the Nobel Prize for literature?
Definitely sell a million copies. I’ll rather influence and touch the minds of a million people, shape their world view and affect how they understand and perceive life occurrences. Titillating the hi-falutin minds of the few people on the Nobel Panel sounds nice, but I want more than personal aggrandizement. The agenda is world domination. LOL…
Write one classic or have a sustained career of good books?
Similar to the above, I’ll like a sustained career of good books. What is a classic by the way, something that stuffy collars in an ivory tower somewhere decide to put in the curriculum? There’s also that I won’t like to be defined by just one work, something like a one trick pony.
Best perk of being a writer?
Having the opportunity to give rein to my imaginations, to create and be more than I am.
Worst thing about being a writer?
The discipline that is actually required, and how little in real money terms it usually pays.
Remember your best and worst reviews? Let’s hear them.
The best was from the very first review from a person who did not know me at all, not even my blog. The worst is the only one star I have on Amazon. Also by someone I probably don’t know. The beauty in all is realizing they weren’t personal in any way.
If you could exchange your writing for another creative talent what would it be?
Painting and drawing. I used to be able to do that but haven’t tried in a long while.
On a scale of one to five, how much would you say the characters in your books are based on real people? Could you give an example? Particular real people?
Maybe one, if that. Can I find examples of people who share characteristics with my characters, very possible.
What book are you ashamed to admit that you haven’t read?
I read pretty voraciously growing up, and I’m lucky I have the time and inclination to still read now.
What is your guilty reading?
Reading when I’m supposed to be doing something else? LOL…
What’s the most challenging part of your creative process?
Starting a new project.
And the most pleasurable?
Writing a scene with lots of drama, dialogue, emotion. It can be pretty satisfying.
What are you likely to be most critical about in other authors’ work?
Too much philosophy stuffed in the mouth of characters.
If you could bring something back from the past what would it be?
I try to remain carefree but it’s hard not to wish for childhood and not worry about all the little things as an adult.
A new book soon, and a publishing company.