Unoma Nwankwor’s interview is all shades of inspiring we can’t help but share. Despite having a career, running a business and caring for her family, she has been able to write 8 books so far. We don’t know about you but we were definitely eager to know her secret.
Hello Unoma. Can you please describe yourself in a few words?
I pondered this question a few years ago, and I simply describe myself as an imperfect woman after the heart of a perfect God. A daughter, sister, wife, mom, story teller and hope ambassador.
Would you say that you were born to be a writer?
I like to say lured. Let me explain/ I’ve always been a loner, partly because I have only brothers, so I was always to myself and partly because I’m an introvert. So, writing became my thing. I could do whatever I wanted with my pen. However, I dared not let anyone read my writing. My husband, however, is the one that encouraged me to push past my fear.
So, yeah, maybe it took someone else to see that I was born to do this.
You’ve written a total of 8 books. That’s amazing. How were you able to achieve this?
I guess it’s just one book after the other. But I know that it really is by the grace of God.
I have a very busy life, in addition to writing, I have a family, career and I run a business. Balance for me, therefore, is crucial, practically I do that by planning as much as I can. I have accepted the fact that I can’t be everything at the same time. So, I try to be fully present in whatever I place my focus on at any given time. I also steal pockets of time and I am not afraid to ask for help. Lastly and most importantly, I stay connected in faith because that is the Source of everything. Like Paul said, but by the grace of God, I am what I am.
Which of your books is your best and why?
Ha! That’s like asking which kid I like best. I don’t have a favourite book. I love all my characters/books equally. During the creative process, I immerse myself into them that they become a favourite in the moment. I just can’t choose. If I had to though, I think it would be Ayanti and Mensah from He Changed My Name. But I’m beginning to think Ebele and Kamal will take their place soon.
You share a lot about your faith through your books. Can you tell us why you chose to do this?
I love talking about my faith, it is the pillar of my existence. Empowering and motivating others in hope is my passion. It comes from a personal place for me.
I’m also a sucker for romance. I love the cliché misunderstanding. My favourite channel is Hallmark and I grew up reading Mills & Boons in Nigeria. LOL. Lastly, as you know, I’m Nigerian. Although I was born in the United States of America, I grew up in Nigeria…shout out to Uniport. I love sharing about my homeland and changing the mindset in the diaspora. Therefore, when I got ready to write, I couldn’t write anything that wasn’t me. Naija. Romance. Faith.
As an author, can you share some of the challenges you’ve faced and how you overcame them?
My greatest challenge was fear. Sometimes it still is to some degree. Right before I release anything, fiction, nonfiction or my podcast, I feel anxiety. I overcome it with this verse my mentor gave me “If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet.” Mathew 10:14
Not everyone will like what I put out but those who it’s meant for will love it.
Many writers find it challenging to finish writing a book and get published. What tips do you have for such writers?
I’ve had quite a few people ask me this question and my answer is always the same. One, set achievable goals. The saying is true, habit and discipline does beat talent any day of the week. When I’m in the throes of writing, I set a daily word count. Two, when you start to write a story, do not, I repeat, do not stop and edit. Throw everything in your head unto the page, don’t stop until you get to THE END. Once you get there, you can go back and edit. Stopping to edit will keep you from finishing,
You are in the process of writing your 9th book. What should your readers expect from this book?
Yes, and I’m loving my present couple, especially the hero. My ninth book is Mended with Love and is the final book in the Sons of Ishmael series The Danjuma brothers; Rasheed, Jabir and Kamal came onto the scene in 2015. They are three brothers abandoned by their father and raised by their mom to become very successful men. You get to meet the women who changed their perception of love. Kamal and Ebele are the stars of this book that will release in October. Each book can be read alone but for the full effect, you’ll want to start from the beginning.
What is the most important lesson writing has taught you?
Writing and talking about my books has given me an inner strength I never thought I had. Fear kept me locked in place for a long time, once I stepped out in faith, God met me at my point of need and it’s been a liberating experience. I learn more about my abilities and embrace my weaknesses fearlessly each day.
This quote by Laurel Bleadon-Maffei describes the feeling perfectly. It is my go to quote, I have it everywhere, office, notebook, laptop (smile). It says, “I found my heart upon a mountain I did not know I could climb, and I wonder how many other pieces of myself are secreted away in places I judge I cannot go.” Gosh, I love that quote. It is so me. So, me.
What advice do you have for people who know that they have a message to share but fear keeps holding them back?
Fear is a mindset. I can rattle off “5 tips to overcome fear” however none of them would work if you don’t change the way you think. Ask yourself, what’s the worst that could happen?
The fear of not being good enough is what holds most creatives back. Always remember that the “professionals” you see today were once amateurs themselves. Allow them to inspire you but don’t try to be them. God created you uniquely, it is your responsibility to walk into what He created you to be.
Now with that mindset, practice makes perfect. The more you exercise your writing muscle the better you become and greater your confidence. My tip will be to remain true to you and your voice. Trust; there is an audience out there. Your authenticity makes them notice.