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An Interview with Ifeanyi Onwubu


I am a poet and an essayist. Been writing since my junior years in secondary school. Wrote my first short story, “A Greeen Snake In a Green Grass” at age 12. I split my time between writing and working as a cellphone technician. Ash Wednesday is my first serious novel.

What inspired you to start writing this book?

I have had several trials at writing a novel in the past. My first novel, Good Times Will Come, had to be discontinued after I suffered depression for lack of money and resources to keep my life going. I lost touch with the book in the long run.

I got back to my feet after a long while, not that all my money problems were gone—but I had decided not to let it distract me from fulfilling my ambitions of being the author of a full-length novel. I picked up my pen again and decided I should get to work.

Tell us the story of your book’s current title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?

I wouldn’t say I went in search of the title. It was the title that came to me.

I was taking a bath one morning and the idea came to me: “How about a book that follows the story of a young boy in a religious household, where he has to deal with an overzealous father? This boy is a poet like myself and is addicted to sex and acts of masturbation.”

That was how the book was birthed and I have not stopped writing it.

Describe your dream book cover.

I like a simple setting, where there’s a projection of a few of the main characters. I prefer live pictures.

What books are you reading (for research or comfort) as you continue the writing process?

Faceless by Amma Darko and African Child by Camara Laye has greatly influenced my style and tone.

What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?

I am a cellphone technician and my colleagues find it strange that a cellphone technician would pick an interest in writing when I try to share my work with them.

Who/what made you want to write? Was there a particular person, or particular writers/works/art forms that influenced you?

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I read a few of her works growing up and in school had read Purple Hibiscus. Had to do some research on her and loved what I saw. I loved her literary footprints and still love them.

Where is your favorite place to write?

A semi-dark, quiet room with my back resting on a soft cushion.

That’s a luxury I can’t afford at the moment.

Do you have any writing rituals?

No—I write whenever I can, and that means in my free time. I get up to work early in the morning and only get back home late in the evening.

What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?

The style, the philosophical undertone.

Every chapter begins with expressions that question the minds of the readers and provide a hint of what the chapter will be all about.

Are you a writer, too? Submit your manuscript to Atmosphere Press.

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