Nneoma Anieto was born in Onitsha, Anambra State. The last of seven children, surrounded by six elder brothers, she is from Umunnachi, a calm and beautiful town in Dunukofia Local Government Area of Anambra State. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communication from Nnamdi Azikiwe University, Awka, Anambra State and a Master’s degree in Media and Communication from School of Media and Communication, Pan Atlantic University, Lagos.
Nneoma’s passion for storytelling finds expression in her writing. Her paramount dream—which is being achieved in stages—is to influence young girls in Nigeria to aspire to attain remarkable heights through storytelling. She is also passionate about enhancing the lives of average Nigerians and she works with an international non-governmental organization to fulfill this passion.
In her spare time, she enjoys reading novels, reading random articles on the internet and listening to music in a dimly lit cool room.
In June 2018, Nneoma came third place in the Dusty Manuscript Contest organized by OkadaBooks and sponsored by Guaranty Trust Bank Plc. She won a cash prize and a publishing deal with Farafina.
We caught up with Nneoma and below are our conversation.
OKBS: Hi Nneoma, It is nice to have you on board.
Nneoma: Thank you. It’s nice to be here.
OKBS: How did you feel coming third place in the Dusty Manuscript Contest?
Nneoma: Awed. I was not expecting to hear my name so I was in shock for a few seconds when the artwork was unveiled and it had the title of my manuscript and my name on it. After awe came immense joy. Seeing the artwork for the book cover was really exhilarating. It was a most pleasant surprise and I couldn’t stop smiling and dancing.
OKBS: Please tell us a little about yourself.
Nneoma: Well, I am a Communications professional working in the development sector. Basically, I employ communications tools to report development needs, report progress and document achievements and lessons. Some of those outputs are then used to develop knowledge products and multimedia products for information, communication, and education in the development sector, such as maternal health. There is a lot of writing involved in my line of work, along with social media management.
I have always been comfortable expressing my thoughts in writing, I think that was one of the reasons I studied Mass Communication and have been in the same field since graduation.
OKBS: What does your family think of your writing? Do they support and encourage you?
Nneoma: I think my brothers are only beginning to realize the extent of my passion for writing. Initially, Facebook was the only outlet for my writing and some of my brothers would sometimes warn me about some of the things I had written and posted on Facebook. Sometimes I would be asked to take down the post; sometimes I obliged, other times I didn’t. With this Dusty Manuscript prize, they now know it is more than occasional rants on Facebook. It’s a passion and they are so proud of me.
My father died before I finished my National Youth Service so he never knew of my writing abilities. My mother was an English Language teacher. She knew I wrote sometimes, but she died a few weeks before the Dusty Manuscript prizes were announced; this would have been her realization that she had a daughter with good writing skills.
OKBS: I’m sorry about your Mom. And I’m glad to see you pulled through. So when did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Nneoma: I don’t think there was a Eureka moment. I am a very expressive person and that expression somehow came out through writing. English Literature was also one of my best subjects at school and I loved to read novels as well; everything else evolved naturally until this point.
OKBS: What is the title of your first book?
Nneoma: Wednesday’s Child. I self-published Wednesday’s Child and launched it on my birthday, 27th May 2018. Wednesday’s Child is a collection of short stories about different girls and women and the issues they face in the society. Themes discussed in the book include rape, sexual harassment, pressure to marry and economic issues faced by women. Wednesday’s Child is available for purchase on Okadabooks:
OKBS: What prompted you to write Wednesday’s Child and how long did it take?
Nneoma: Wednesday’s Child took a few months to write because I had to write in the evenings after work. Working up the courage to print the book and also upload it for sale on OkadaBooks took longer though. I spent time editing the book and just reading the lines over. I think the editing took longer than the actual writing. I wrote Wednesday’s Child to highlight issues faced by women in society, issues that are normally taken for granted but which leave lasting scars on the woman. Giving a voice to women who have been victims of these issues was the primary motivation for writing Wednesday’s Child.
The Other Side of Truth (Dusty Manuscript third place winner) didn’t take long at all. The story had always been in my head so putting it down didn’t take very long. I must say though that since I submitted the book for the Dusty Manuscript Contest, I have added a whole chapter to it in my head. I am sure that I will have the opportunity to include this Chapter along with other corrections before the book is eventually published.
OKBS: The experiences in The Other Side of Truth, are they based on someone you know or events in your own life?
Nneoma: No, the events in the book are really my imagination. I did try to touch on common issues which many people face in their daily lives, those issues aren’t solely my experience though.
OKBS: Please tell us about your winning book.
Nneoma: It is a book about the much vilified “other woman”. The Other Side of Truth is an account of events in the life of the other woman which shaped her into becoming the homewrecker she is perceived to be. To borrow Eghosa Imasuen’s words in describing the book, “it does not make excuses, it just presents the facts”.
OKBS: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in The Other Side of Truth?
Nneoma: Not change but add lots of other things and modify a few things. Hopefully, Farafina will guide me to do this and get the best out of the book.
OKBS: What Other books have you written?
Nneoma: Wednesday’s Child and The Other Side of Truth are the only books I have started and completed so far. I have tons of unfinished material saved though; hopefully, they lead to more books soon.
OKBS: Outside of writing, what’s your day job and how do you manage it alongside writing?
Nneoma: I work in the development sector as a Communications professional. My job sometimes involves traveling to remote locations, documenting project successes and challenges. My job also involves a lot of storytelling; I present the human angle to development projects by telling the personal stories of the beneficiaries of the projects. Sometimes after writing case studies and success stories at work, I feel too lazy to work on my own writing projects. Some other times, my experience on the job serves as material for my own writing projects. One of the stories in my first book Wednesday’s Child is a regular occurrence in the communities I have visited in my line of work.
OKBS: I’ve heard a lot of people complain of the negative effect of social media. I’ve also heard them praise it as an effective marketing tool. Have you been able to use it to your advantage?
Nneoma: I can’t complain about Social Media. Facebook was the outlet for my writing for many years and comments from my followers on Facebook also motivated me to continue writing so I cannot complain about social media. Again, I think my following on Social Media platforms is increasing as a result of my writing, although this hasn’t yet translated to huge online sales of Wednesday’s Child, quite a few of my followers have bought hard copies of the book.
OKBS: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
Nneoma: I normally write from 6:00 pm every weekday when I am forcing myself to write. When I am not forcing myself to write, I write at work as well, at break time or in between official duties (Ssssshhh… don’t tell the employer)
OKBS: (Hahahaha…) No, I won’t tell them. So, some people see writers as un-serious people and because of that, they are reluctant to assist. Do you have anyone that supports your writing career outside of family members?
Nneoma: A lot of my friends are very supportive but I have a few friends who I have met in the course of my work and in the course of my education who have been particularly supportive. I don’t think I have the space to name them all but I will particularly name Eugene Ohu. He is a Faculty at Lagos Business School and has directed a lot of writing assignments my way. His support translates to income and I am grateful.
OKBS: Do you see writing as a career?
Nneoma: Yes I do. But till I make a name for myself as a renowned writer, I will have a day job as well. In future, I would like to be a full-time writer, I hope to also offer ghostwriting services if possible but till my name is enough to get commissions, I will hedge my bets. Hopefully, being a winner in this edition of the Dusty Manuscript Contest means that this dream isn’t too far away now.
OKBS: They say Africans don’t read. As such, our local publishers have their interests more in school books. After all, children are compelled to buy them. Now, you write Melodramas, not school books. Have you had an encounter with our local publishers? If yes, what was your experience like?
Nneoma: I understand publishing is a business, so it is important that published books turn a profit. This understanding helps me not to take rejections personally. I submitted Wednesday’s Child to a local publisher and I got turned down politely. I still went ahead to publish, it isn’t a financial loss for me.
OKBS: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Nneoma: Length on Microsoft Word does not translate to length in book form or maybe my conversion was wrong.
OKBS: EBook sales and hard copy sales, which do you think is better? And why?
Nneoma: I have sold almost 200 copies of Wednesday’s Child to family and friends in hard copy. I have sold only three online. I think hard copies sell better particularly for people who just want to smell the book and then put it on their shelves. Online books are impersonal; I personally would like to buy a book in hard copy.
OKBS: Do you have any suggestions to help other young writers become better?
Nneoma: Don’t stop writing. As with many things in life, your writing gets better with practice.
OKBS: Any words to other upcoming writers?
Nneoma: Look for opportunities like the Dusty Manuscript. Even if you don’t win, being shortlisted boosts your morale to keep trying.
OKBS: What about your readers? Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
Nneoma: So far, they have said “Well done!” Soon, I hope they will say, “Have you thought of doing it this way?”
OKBS: Any words from you to them?
Nneoma: Please buy Wednesday’s Child. It’s available on Okadabooks, please click here. Thank you so much for your support so far, watch out for ‘The Other Side of Truth’ too. Finally, where would I be if you were not reading? Please keep reading, keep recommending.
OKBS: Thank you so much for your time, Nneoma.
Nneoma: You are welcome. Thank you too.
You can connect with Nneoma on:
(Twitter Handle): @adaanieto