Myne Whitman is a debut author of a romantic novel set in modern day Nigeria which has been received quite well both in Nigeria and in the United States. Myne is fast becoming a force to reckon with in the literary world. Having recently read A Heart to Mend AKA AHTM, I can see why. It’s an excellent first novel and I can only look forward to more great work from this prolific Nigerian writer.
Myne also runs an award winning personal blog mynewhitmanwrites, among many other projects she has under her wings including writing for bellanaija. This lady definitely wears many hats.
I am honored to be able to host her on my blog for this interview. She has been featured on blogs, magazines, newspapers and more. Everywhere you turn now, it’s Myne! Here is my interview with Myne Whitman.
Please comment on the interview to be entered to win an ebook version of AHTM.
What inspired you to write AHTM, Myne?
I have always been intrigued by the principle of unconditional love. Also, when I started reading the Mills and Boon Romance novels as a young adult, their stories had a big influence on my writing. Now when I decided on full time writing, I went back to that genre. The characters and issues dealt with in A Heart to Mend are from contemporary peoples and the issues that occur in relationships.
How long have you known you wanted to be a writer professionally and nothing else?
I have always known that being a writer was one thing I could do. Since I was very young, I was quite creative. I've been writing, drawing and painting and sketching house and dress designs. Right now, I won't say I'm a professional writer, there is no MFA, degree or writing workshop certificates. I'm just a full time writer. It's something I love doing and a choice I made just last year after I got married and moved to the United States.
How did your pseudonym come about? Why a pseudonym?
I have been using a pseudonym since I completed my first story while in university. It is simply the translation of my real names. When I write, I think in English since that it the language I write in and my pen name flows from that. For me, it is a way of channeling my creativity and retaining my privacy at the same time. I reserve my real name for more official and professional stuff.
Tell us a little bit about how and why you decided to self publish.
Several factors were involved, the major one being that I was now a full time writer. Others included the fact that the world has come to terms with the internet age and self publishing and other less conventional means of getting a book to an audience were beginning to take root. Talk about eBooks, kindles and Nooks and other such technology and I saw that it was worth a try.
Also my blog, Myne Whitman Writes (which recently won several awards including Blog of the Year at the Nigerian Blog Awards) had such a loyal following that I wanted to give them a chance to read the story. Most of them had been following it on my blog and were very supportive. The experience so far has been worth it. I am so amazed by the people who have accessed and read the book and the fact that they all seemed to come away with something even issues I had not really focused on.
What was your writing process? Did you have an outline? Did you have a skeletal/short story first or did you just write without knowing exactly what would happen next, allowing the story to take on a life of its own?
My writing process is pretty basic. Once I have my laptop, I’m good to go. I usually blog a bit before I start writing, something about reading all that different styles and stories. Sometimes I also like to listen to slow ballads while I write some emotional or love scenes. I am usually a plotter. I try to have an outline of all the chapters to include in a manuscript, but after that, it’s freewheeling all the way for the scenes or what could happen.
The inspiration for my writing and characters come from all over. I might have this idea and then see how it is handled in this TV series or movie or something. Or I have this character running around in my mind and then I come across the perfect scenario to try her out in. Then at times, I have these very funny dreams, where I dream up whole stories or at least scenes and even character backgrounds.
Did you intend for it to be purely entertainment or did you have a message in there especially for young ladies looking for love?
I usually leave my readers to deduce the themes in my stories. The only overarching message is that love can make a way if you allow it and that romance is not dead. It's the basic premise for romance novels. But in telling it and through the characters, I try to weave in topical issues that are valid for everyday life.
We haven’t had a romance novel based in Nigeria in a long time though we have had several contemporary literature pieces. How did you decide to write one?
First and foremost I wanted to write a story of love and finding oneself. Deciding to write a romance was from my own experience as a reader. I read widely but while literature pieces have to have a story to hook me, I will give any popular fiction a chance. I also felt that there were not enough romance novels set in contemporary Nigeria, and that I could do something to change that. Therefore, I used the events or stories I’ve heard or read about in real life Nigeria of the last few years to create a lot of these themes in A Heart to Mend.
Did you believe some may perceive it as wrong or alien to our culture to vividly paint a certain picture of love and romance?
Some reviews have already pointed that out but most agree that love and romance are age old topics and there will always be stories about human relationships. A few fellow writers asked if I was not boxing myself in yet I remember that in the seventies, eighties and nineties, there were lots of Pacesetter novels whose stories were based on love and romance.
How has AHTM been received? Has there been any opposition so far or has it been love and acceptance all the way?
I think A Heart to mend is a niche book. Most people outside this romance niche may not have heard of it. Those in the niche, cannot help but love it. There has been no opposition but critiques have been pouring in. People are eager for the next book, at the same time, they want a better product. It could be typos, writing style, or general content. I actually look forward to such feedback.
Have you ever written a love scene and if not, would you be comfortable writing a love scene even though it may be frowned on by our culture? Are you willing to push to envelope?
A Heart to Mend contained several love scenes. A reader actually complained that she wanted the characters to have sex which did not happen, lol. I won't say I'm pushing any envelopes by writing about lovemaking or sex. This is what we do everyday in our lives and Africa is one of the most populous continents. In my WIP, there is actually even more scenes like that and the excerpts I post on my blog are causing a furore already.
How easy was it for you to make your setting Nigeria, since you no longer reside in Nigeria? Did you have to travel back home to refresh your memory?
It wasn't too hard since I haven't been out of the country for too long, barely four years. However, Google maps and images played a great role. For instance, I never lived in Lagos where AHTM is set, only visited but when you plug the street you want on Google, you see the houses and neighbourhood. Google Earth is amazing and on slow days, I visit my old place in Scotland and drive by my favorite haunts. I can't wait for street view to be deployed in Nigeria too, right now I only have satellite view.
AHTM is fiction and romance. What else do you write?
I write short stories that pass more for literature pieces and I also write poems and articles/ opinion pieces.
Are you working on any new project at present and is it similar to AHTM or different?
I have my work in progress, also a romantic suspense novel which I hope to complete by the end of fall. The working title is Ghost of the past. In GOTP, Efe is a young girl who is separated from Kevwe, her former fiancé, by a series of traumatic events, and now wants the past resolved before she can accept his love again.
What’s next for Myne Whitman?
I look forward to telling more stories, publishing more books, and doing more for the Nigerian writing community through my website http://www.naijastories.com/.
Thanks for granting the interview which incidentally is my first blog interview/author spotlight. Where can we find you online or otherwise Myne?
My email is firstname.lastname@example.org . I blog at mynewhitmanwrites.com and on Facebook and Twitter, I'm /Myne.Whitman and @Myne_Whitman respectively. I will be in Los Angeles this weekend at the LABBX.
***Please remember to comment on the interview to be eligible to win an ebook version of AHTM.***