‘Igboland’ – a Biafran story

‘Igboland’, by Jeff Gardiner, is published by Crooked Cat Publishing, Edinburgh. It’s fiction, backed up with solid research and factual information – my favourite kind of fiction. I’ll confess an interest straight away – my first novel is also published by Crooked Cat, and Jeff is my editor. I’m enjoying a brief break from writing, and taking the opportunity to catch up on my reading. I’m delighted Jeff agreed to answer a few questions for my blog. Take a look at this book – it’s well worth reading.

Jeff Gardiner – ‘Igboland’

 What started you writing? What made you want to become a writer?

 I’ve always loved reading for as long as I can remember. When I was young, I wanted to be able to write something that affected others as much as a book like ‘The Wind in the Willows’ affected me. (Haven’t achieved that yet, but it’s good to aim high). As an adolescent I wrote terrible, self-indulgent poetry and plays, which I hope never see the light of day. Once I had more life experience, I began to write stories and found some success with those. I write because my head is full of images and stories to tell.

 Your book ‘Igboland’ is set in Nigeria during the Biafran conflict of the 1960s. What led you to choose this topic for your story?

 I was born in Nigeria during the Biafran/Civil War. My parents were missionaries living out in Idoma. I’m very proud and sentimental about my Nigerian roots, and the idea of writing a novel set there was always something I wanted to do. ‘Igboland’ uses some context and details from my Mum’s diaries, but the story is fictional. I very much enjoyed researching Igbo culture and their beliefs – known as Odinani. We in the west could learn a great deal from their profound understanding of the world around us.

 How has writing this book changed the way you approach writing?

 ‘Igboland’ involved more research than my previous novel, ‘Myopia’. I had a strong structure, which did change and turn itself almost inside out at one point. I’m better at structures and planning now. ‘Igboland’ went through a number of edits before being sent off to publishers. I learnt a great deal about editing through the process of completing it. Editing is something that writers must take seriously. It’s an essential element of novel writing.

 In what formats is your book available? Do you favour some formats above others (e.g. e-books versus print)?

 My novels ‘Igboland’ and ‘Myopia’, and my collection of short stories (‘A Glimpse of the Numinous’), are available as paperbacks and e-books. My novel ‘Treading On Dreams’ is in e-book only. I always used to favour proper books, but I am slowly coming round to e-books. I now have a kindle and read most books on it now. The only thing I don’t like about e-books is that it’s difficult to flick back quickly to find a previous extract.

 What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

 You have to believe in your product. If you don’t then nobody else will. Never give up. Have courage and persistence. Get used to rejection and toughen up. Be business-like, and be prepared to work hard at marketing your books. It doesn’t finish when you write ‘The End’. Enjoy being creative.

 Thanks for reading this, and thanks for having me on your blog, Yvonne.

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