Publisher’s background Note: Sylva Nze Ifedigbo’s story, ‘The Lunch on Good Friday’, was a finalist in the pixelhose.com First Writing Competition and is included in 22 Naked Bodies Inside, a short story collection that resulted from the competition.
Dourandish: Tell us a little bit about yourself.
Ifedigbo: I am a Nigerian writer passionate about my country and about what I do. I was born in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city in 1984, the first of four children. My parents are teachers and as you can imagine, I had a pretty disciplined upbringing. I am easy going, fun loving and when I am not writing, I am twitting.
Dourandish: When did you start writing?
Ifedigbo: I have been writing since the earliest memory I have of myself as a child. Growing up with books as toys has a way of immersing you into that word and one of my biggest fantasies as a child was having my name on the cover of a book. So back then I wrote stories, usually my own versions of stories I had read or been told and I will not rest until I had gotten everyone to read it. It was not hard to identify it as something I had in me and I have since worked to make it shine.
Dourandish: When did you start writing seriously?!
Ifedigbo: That should be in 2007 after I attended the Creative writing workshop organised by Nigerian award winning author Chimamanda Adichie. I had been writing before then but I guess the workshop was a turning point. Besides equipping me with new information to better my craft, the workshop also provided the challenge to push the limits.
Do you have a specific style? If so, how did you develop it. If not, why not?!
I try to tell my stories in a language simple enough to be accessible to just about everyone. I often also make efforts to lace my sentences with humour so that my work entertains my readers. Generally, I would say that as a budding author, I am still in the process of developing a voice and a style that is unique to me and I intend to explore a lot in this process.
Dourandish: What kinds of stories do you (like to) tell?
Ifedigbo: I tell contemporary Nigerian stories. Stories about life and experiences of young people in my society. My stories. It’s a mix bag. Some are happy stories, others are melancholic while others are deeply political, aimed at questioning the many inadequacies of my society.
Dourandish: How do you get your ideas?
Ifedigbo: I am inspired by everything that happens around me from the scramble at rowdy bus parks, to the headlines in the newspapers and even game shows on the television. There are so many stories to tell around us and no one else will tell these stories but us. So the ideas keep coming, from things you might see as mundane to others that are topical. Often times, it’s not researched. They just come.
Dourandish: How, and how many times on average, do you edit a piece?
Ifedigbo: Editing never really ends does it? I write a draft, edit it myself, re-write it and then get other eyes to look at it. First, from among my close literary network and then later, a professional editor. Depending on how important the work is, the process goes on and on.
Dourandish: Tell us about rejection.
Ifedigbo: I have had my fair share of them like most other writers have. Initially they left me depressed and made me question my ability. Gradually, I have come to see them for what they really are; a call work harder or as is the case at times, a difference in the taste or opinion of the editor of whatever publication has sent the rejection. Over all, I think they are an important part of every writing career and they should inspire rather than deflate us.
Dourandish: Tell us about some of your successes.
Ifedigbo: While I aim to achieve more acclaim, I must state that I have had a number of modest literary achievements for which I am proud. I have won and been shortlisted for a number of fiction and essay contest including the Abuja short story prize organised by the Abuja Writers Forum in which I came tops.
Dourandish: What have you learned from your writing experiences that you consider invaluable?
Ifedigbo: I have learned that to be a good writer, one has to be a voracious reader as well. In addition, I have learned that discipline is needed to succeed as writing is a jealous craft which like a jealous partner demands full attention and adequate care for it to blossom.
Dourandish: How can our readers find out more about your work?
Ifedigbo: By viewing my web site.