Could you please introduce Nkem Akinsoto?
My name is Nkem Akinsoto also known as Myne Whitman. I sometimes come across as quiet and laid-back but do like a good loud debate sometimes. In three words, I will describe myself as friendly, caring and fun-loving. I have been a teacher, NGO consultant, banker, skate-hire attendant, researcher and Scottish government worker. After a postgrad degree and a few years in Edinburgh, Scotland, I now live in the United States with my husband.
How did you get to be called ‘Myne Whitman’?
Myne Whitman is a name I coined myself when I began to write seriously while still in secondary school. Most of the books I read were in English, and since I was writing in English too, I decided my name would be the same. So the pseudonym is a play on the transliterated words of my maiden name, Nkem Okotcha.
Tell us about your background? growing up, schools attended and state or origin?
I grew up during the 1980’s in Enugu, Nigeria. I remember as a child
studying a lot, reading everything I could lay my hands on, and then trying to play as much as possible. I attended Ekulu Primary School and Queens School in Enugu, and Loretto Science School and Nnamdi Azikiwe University in Anambra. I am from Asaba, Delta State and that is where my parents live now.
How did you become a writer? how and when did you start with?
I started writing when I was still in primary school. I was a reserved
child, a bookworm and when I finished all the books around me, I started doodling the stories from my imagination on leftover exercise books from previous terms. My readers were mostly my siblings and a few friends. I stopped for a while when I was overtaken by teenage Mills and Boon fever but before I finished my first degree I was writing again, short stories and poems.
Tell us about your previous work?
Most of my previous works are poems and short stories. Some of them can be found on Writing.com and on the Nigeria Village Square. ‘A Heart to Mend‘ This is my first novel. It began by excerpts on my blog till I decided to publish.
Who is your favourite writer?
I love various authors and cannot narrow it down. The names that stick are; M&B, Barbara Cartland, Francine Rivers, Sidney Sheldon, Robert Ludlum, Leon Uris, John Grisham, and Micheal Critchton. And in Africa; Pacestters and the African Writers Series.
Do you have a Nigerian Writer whose work you enjoy?
Flora Nwapa, Buchi Emecheta, Cyprian Ekwensi, and Chinua Achebe. Recently I read more by how I like the preview or reviews of a book than who wrote it. However, I always try to buy a Nigerian author each time I shop and have enjoyed books by Chimamanda Adichie, Nnedi Okoroafor-Mbachu, Jude Dibia, Helon Habila and Chris Abani.
Tell us about the book and why you self published via Author house?
The book is a genre novel or category romance in the suspense line, some may call it romantic fiction. I decided to self publish because I heard some good stories about the process and how it can be successful if you apply yourself. I had been discouraged earlier on in my writing when I tried to pursue it after my first degree when I was rejected by the publishers we had in Nigeria in those days. So this time after several similar letters from publishers and agents, I decided on self publishing since I had my full time to dedicate to it. Author House has several good things about them and that’s why I chose them and they have met those so far.
How did the book ‘A Heart To Mend’ begin?
It began from a short story I had written a some time ago called The end of the Road. It was a story of two people who met but due to issues on both sides could not make their relationship work. I fleshed out this main story and weaved it through a subplot of growing friendships, family reunions, the Nigerian stock market, business intrigues and a vendetta.
Let’s talk about the story, tell us about it..
In the book, Gladys is a young woman, newly arrived in Lagos and from a deprived background. She had been estranged from her aunt and is a bit cynical of rich people. While still working on her new relationship with her Aunt Isioma, she meets Edward, a wealthy egoist who is surprising kindhearted. She is smitten by his physical looks and his interest in her though she continues to feel he’s out of her reach. Edward is highly attracted to her physically but as time goes on, he realizes he may have set up his heart for a fall. He is from a shadowed past and has been deeply scarred by events that happened when he was younger. They are able to surmount this and all other obstacles before them including differing views on premarital sex, social class and contrary advice from friends. Gladys and Edward finally decide to trust their hearts with each other and begin to prepare for their wedding.
Was ‘a heart to mend’ an easy write?
I doubt any book would be an easy write however I enjoyed writing this book because of how it ended I guess I still believe in fairy tales, etc. I had to add an extra 60,000 words to the previous short story I had and maybe a similar number of words were cut away or even deleted. I have heard writing described as a lonely career and I agree, it’s also a tasking process.
I’m able to concentrate fully on writing now because it as my full time job. I spend nothing less than five hours a day writing though sometimes I can’t go to sleep and write through the night. On certain days however, I can’t write a single sentence to save my life, or I spend most of the time trawling the web for information that’ll make the books as real as possible. It does help to have a very supportive partner, who is not only understanding but also very helpful.
What is the big picture for Myne Whitman?
I hope to publish more books and still remain in the midst of my readers and fans. Co-ordinating the Blogsville Interactive Story has shown me so much talent and given me some ideas for a writing/publishing collective. I’m still playing with those thoughts for now and will broach them with the necessary people in due time. More information will always be available on my website ,Blog, FB page and Twitter .
The book ‘A Heart To Mend’ is now available at Amazon.