Unless you've been under a rock, which i'm you haven't :) you must have heard our very own Myne Whitman has a new book out titled A Heart to Mend. I decided to pick her brain a little bit and ask her a few questions. Sit down, relax, put your feet up and enjoy 15 questions with Myne Whitman
1. When and why did you begin writing?I have been writing for a very long time, ever since I was a child and always dreamed of holding a book in my hands with my name on the cover as the author. I think it comes from my very vivid and extensive imagination and from the thousands of books I read
2. When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I was first a reader. The earliest novel I recall writing was of children’s adventures while I was in secondary school. It was a mixture of the sort of stories I read from Enid Blyton and my own experiences travelling to my hometown for the Christmas breaks with my family. I had a very active imagination but I was not a big talker and so all those daydreams went into my writings. I wrote of the sort of scrapes and adventures I got into and I felt my siblings and friends would enjoy reading about.
3. Where do you get your ideas for your writings?
A lot of the themes handled in A Heart to Mend, my first novel are motivated by events or stories I’ve heard or read about in real life. People have asked so I have to say that none of my characters is based on me or anyone I know in particular but on a cumulative of my experience. They're just people of my imaginings and are therefore may seem free from some of the usual constraints we real persons face. However, since I try to make my stories as real as possible, they also share our fears and hopes, our victories and our pain. If you look closely, you may even recognize one or more of them.
4. How did you come up with the title for your book?
It was an interative process. I wanted something which reflected one of the main themes of the book - in this case, that they surmounted the obstacles to their love. The manuscript therefore started out as "Not the End of the Road" but as the story progressed and Edward emerged as the focal character, the final title framed his difficulty in committing to a relationship. I still wanted something something positive and I felt that ‘A Heart To Mend’ satisfied all counts.
5. Is there a message in your novel that you would like readers to get?
The novel details how Edward and Gladys were affected by their past and how it limited their opportunities in the present especially in the area of love and relationships. Gladys obsesses over the divide between her and Edward, while he had barricaded his heart and was not letting anyone in, man or woman. The lesson is that none of us is perfect but we should be able to keep our heart open for that (sometimes one) person who has enough masking tape to cover our imperfections and make us complete.
Another major theme I explored as a source of tension and conflict is that of cross-cultural relationships which I think will continue to be a source of drama as long as human beings feel more comfortable associating with people of the same culture and social class. Lesser issues are that of premarital sex, illegitimacy, crooked business dealings and improper marriages where women are treated like chattel and controlled by a domineering husband.
6. What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I believe in creating characters that I can identify with strongly enough to feel what they feel when they are going through emotional turmoil, and convey some of this feeling in my work where it shows through to the audience. This can be quite tough and emotionally draining but it is worth it in the end.
7. What book are you reading now?
I have just finished reading Helon Habila’s Measuring Time which I was reading piecemeal together with Adaobi Nwaubani’s I do not come to you by Chance. I have added a collection of romance stories titled Gift of Love to the mix.
8. What books have influenced your life the most?
It has to be the Bible first and foremost. Flora Nwapa and Buchi Emecheta did a lot to shape my prepubescent psyche through Efuru and The Bride Price because I read those books as a very young teenager. Others are the Mills and Boon series, Redeeming Love and Lineage of Grace (Francine Rivers), Inspirational books by John C. Maxwell and Rick Warren.
9. Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I loved reading and was the bookworm of the house. I read everything I could lay my hands on including books I wasn’t even supposed to be reading at my age. I loved looking at the pictures of the writers on the back covers of the books and they were always smiling. It wasn’t long before the left over notebooks in the house began serving as jotters for my notes and short stories. I wanted to see my name and picture on the front or back of a book cover too.
10. If you had to chose, what writer would you consider a mentor?
I look up to almost all authors and writers because I know how much work that goes into writing. I love various authors and cannot really narrow it down but the names that stick are; Mills and Boons, Barbara Cartland, Francine Rivers, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Leon Uris, John Grisham, and Micheal Critchton. And in Africa; Pacestters, African Writers Series, Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Cyprian Ekwensi and Chinua Achebe.
However, if I had to pick one as my mentor, I’ll have to choose my husband. He is a talented writer and he was the professional editor for my debut novel, A Heart to Mend. He has been with me every step of the way, proof-reading, discussing plot, critiquing, cheering me on and being a lovely partner too.
11. If you could be any character in fiction, who would you be?
A Heroine in love story or a femme fatale in Sidney Sheldon’s or Harold Robbins’ thrillers. , Hmmm, maybe even top bitch in a Joan Collins or Judith Krantz Saga, lol…
12. If someone wrote a biography about you, what should the title be?
One of the interviews I did was titled the Heart Mender. I’ve come to like that tag but only if the biography was written today. Tomorrow might be different and I believe this is just the beginning.
13. How would you describe yourself in three words?
I would say friendly, caring and fun-loving.
14. What are your current projects?
I am working on my next novel and a few short stories that may translate into full-length books or not. I hope to finish the main manuscript this year though and have it in the market before Christmas.
15. Do you have any advice for other writers?
I will say that they should keep at it. It was Petina Gappah who said on her blog "A writer is a person who writes...You, at your computer or with your notebook, writing, and writing, revising and writing, and revising again." A writer thus has to persevere, have a story they want to share and push till it's in a forms others can understand and appreciate. I wish everyone the best.
The book can be purchased on my website mynewhitman.com or on Amazon.com