Meet an author: Chinelo Okparanta
Chinelo Okparanta is a Nigerian-American writer. She is the author of Happiness like Water and Under The Udala Trees, both winners of the Lambda literary price for lesbian fiction in 2014 and 2016 respectively. She lives in the United States where she works as an assistant professor of English and Creative Writing at Bucknell University.
1. When did you start writing and why?
Early in primary school, I made small books from cut-up composition paper with staples or rubber bands at their spines. I wrote little stories on the pages of these books and carried them around as if they were fully realized novels. And maybe they were.
2. At what point do you know that a story/book is complete?
I don’t ever feel a story is truly complete, but there is always a point at which I start to feel that with any more tinkering, more harm than good will be done. When I hit this point, I try to let go of the story or book.
3. What’s the hardest/easiest thing about writing?
The hardest thing is enduring your characters’ pain on their behalf. Or is it the other way around—making your characters endure your pain, on your behalf?The hardest thing is enduring your characters’ pain on their behalf - Chinelo Okparanta Click To Tweet
4. What books would you say shaped your writing?
So many— Candide by Voltaire; Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupéry; L’Ecole des Femmes by Molière; The Velveteen Rabbit; Things Fall Apart; So Long a Letter; Breath, Eyes, Memory; Never Let Me Go; Housekeeping; Moderato Cantabile; the list goes on and on.
5. Are you working on anything at the moment?
6. How do you feel about bad reviews?
They’re OK. Some are quite thoughtful and insightful. Others feel rather like the person read the wrong book, or read only the first page of each section, or was going through a bad life period when they read the book. Either way, life goes on.
Privacy is golden. - Chinelo Okparanta Click To Tweet
7. If you could be a character in a novel you’ve read, who would you be and why?
I’m happy just being me.
8. If your life was a book, what would the title be?
To borrow from Rihanna:
You see me I be work, work, work, work, work, work.
9. What books by a Nigeria Author would you recommend to a friend?
Freshwater by Akwaeke Emezi is coming out in February 2018. Everyone should get themselves a copy.
10. Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
I’m cool with them not knowing. Privacy is golden.