Award-winning novelist, poet and humanitarian, Chienyem Ike is the youngest in a family of six. She was born to an engineer father and banker mother. She grew up singing in the choir and had organized a fashion show while living in England. Chienyem Ike graduated First Class in Business Administration from the University of Plymouth. She is a recipient of the prestigious Plymouth Award.
Chienyem is the author of The Clever Tortoise and Other Stories, Coco Goes To Camp, Old Time Religion Stories. Some of her poems include From My Teenage Years, Titi and Tolu Go To England, The Blessing, Chienyem Wide Awake, God’s Love and A Storyteller’s Point of View.
When she is not writing and designing clothes, Chienyem loves painting, singing and cooking. Yes, she makes sumptuous Asian cuisines Her vacation destination is Dubai, the United Arab Emirates.
Chienyem Ike shared some moments with Oludare Sorunke, Publisher, BLACKWASH.
When did you start writing and where did you get ideas for your books?
I started writing at the age of 10. I got ideas from stories I heard, books I read and happenings around me.
How long did it take to write your books? Can you share your experiences on each of them?
It took me a whole month to write my first book, which wasn’t published by the way. Subsequent titles ranged in delivery from 1 month to 1 year. For instance, a major Bestseller- Old Time Religion Stories took a whole year to put together.
Tell us about finding the right publisher for your books.
I published with Amazon, Kobo books, Readerapp Ghana, Dreame, and Okadabooks. I basically did a thorough research on each before publishing and it was quite an amazing experience.
Do you have any idea how many copies of your books have been sold?
If I say that I know how many copies I have sold, I will be lying to you. Let’s just say that many copies of my books have been sold.
Tell us about the reception and recommendations on your works.
All my books have received a warm reception; warmer than expected. They’ve also been recommended in top schools.
How did you feel when you won the prestigious Plymouth Award?
That was during my undergraduate days at the University of Plymouth. I couldn’t describe the experience. I was overwhelmed with well wishes from friends, teachers, especially members of my family. I felt proud.
Which of these prestigious literary awards do you want to win; Nobel Prize for Literature, Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award or Booker prize?
I will like to win all. It’s really a honour, a prestige knowing that your works are being noticed and appreciated. Do you know how many writers compete for those prizes and the back breaking work the jury do to eventually select the winners? The Pulitzer Prize is an American literary award, while the Booker Prize is for countries in the Commonwealth. The former involves 2,500 entries, 14 categories and 21 prizes, while the latter involves 54 countries competing for the prize.
Who is your favourite African author and which of his books resonated most with you?
I like The Lion and the Jewel by Nobel Laureate, Professor Wole Soyinka
Please suggest the best ways to write a best-selling novel.
The best way to write a best-selling novel is to do your research, organize a catchy plot, discuss interesting characters, include twists and turns and promote very well. Editing, including line editing is part of the whole package.
Has any of your novels been adapted into a movie?
Can you advise the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
The most unethical practice in the publishing industry is taking advantage of newbies. For example, just because someone is a new author doesn’t mean that their voice shouldn’t be heard. Also, the issue of copyright policies should be looked into and taken seriously.
You are also a fashion designer, when and how did it begin?
I started designing in secondary school. It came naturally to me, I guess. I would just sit and start sketching designs for friends, and family members. I designed my Aba Acculturation dress in Queens College, a traditional outfit for a cousins wedding and my housewares in secondary school. I still keep my old sketches.
Between writing novels and making clothes, which is more demanding and which is more profitable?
With the right tailors, one could produce 100 clothes in a month, but writing by oneself, a book can take a month or more to complete. So I will say writing is more demanding. However, in terms of sales, one could do better with books as it is much easier to promote and distribute ebooks than clothing items.
Where do you search for fabrics and how do you determine a client’s personal style?
I buy fabrics from a textile importer. My designs are unique. They are my own ideas, brands and designs. I usually tell my customers what I have available and produce based on their specifications.
How can people catch up with you and buy your books?
People can catch up with me via social media on Facebook @ Chienyem Ike and email: email@example.com.
My books are available on Amazon.com via this link https://www.amazon.com/s?k=chienyem+ike&crid=IZ7WOVXW75VP&sprefix=chienyem+ike%2Caps%2C493&ref=nb_sb_noss
And okadabooks: https://okadabooks.com/search?query=chienyem+ike
People can order my books on this number; 08170242993