Meet an author: Jowhor Ile
Jowhor Ile was born in 1980 and raised in Nigeria, where he currently lives. His fiction has appeared in McSweeney’s Quarterly and Litro Magazine.
1. When did you start writing and why?
I started writing early. I remember doing so from probably the age of eight. By the time I got into secondary school, I was writing short stories which were plagiarized versions of books I loved. I wrote poems as a teenager, as I think every teenager does, but they were not very good. I don’t know why I write, which is not to say I can’t give some sort of answer. Actually the answer that feels true to me now is this: My brain is shaped in such a way that it moves me to write. I don’t really know another way to be. It makes me whole and gives me a sense of purpose too. It makes me happy that I do it, because there are so many simple things in life that I just can’t do.
2. At what point do you know that a story/book is complete?
It really depends on the story. A story has a life of its own. Your job as the writer is to pay attention.
A story has a life of its own. Your job as the writer is to pay attention. -@JowhorIle Click To Tweet
3. What’s the hardest/easiest thing about writing?
I don’t know. I don’t think in those terms. I try to find time to write and then to actually write… Maybe the hardest thing is confronting what you have produced. It’s never as good as what you imagined, the textured, vibrant world of your mind. The next hard thing would be to put it away, give it time, return to it and try to make it better.
4. What books would you say shaped your writing?
Pacesetter series, African Writers series, The King James Bible, everything I read as a young person, from Achebe to Dostoevsky. And let’s not forget Cyprian Ekwensi, Stephen King, Flora Nwapa, Virginia Woolf, Ken Saro-Wiwa.
5. Are you working on anything at the moment?
There’s always something I’m nursing or quarreling with.
6. How do you feel about bad reviews?
7. If you could be a character in a novel you’ve read, who would you be and why?
Most of the characters I admire in novels ( the ones who come readily to mind now) are magnificent and flawed and come to what could be called a tragic end. I can’t answer the question.
8. If your life was a book, what would the title be?
I don’t know.
9. Tell us something about yourself that your readers probably don’t know.
As a teenager I really dreamed of a life where I would be a famous Jazz/Soul crooner and write stories on the side just for my own joy.
10. What books by a Nigerian Author would you recommend to a friend?
Jagua Nana — Cyprian Ekwensi
When We Speak of Nothing — Olumide Popoola
The Thing Around Your Neck — Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
Arrow of God — Chinua Achebe