Linda N. Masi’s debut novel, Fine Dreams, won the 2023 Juniper Prize for fiction. Some of her works have been anthologized and others have appeared in Tupelo Quarterly, Blackberry: A Magazine, and elsewhere. She has also authored a book of poems and a children’s book series. Originally from Nigeria, Masi holds an MFA in creative writing from the University of Mississippi and is currently completing a PhD at Texas Tech University.
What inspired you to start writing this book?
To shed light on people’s sufferings and the strength they muster in order to deal with terrorist attacks and the associated trauma as experienced, especially, in north-eastern Nigeria.
Tell us the story of your book’s title. Was it easy to find, or did it take forever?
Four friends, teenaged schoolgirls and track stars, get abducted by terrorists from their dorm and have their lives’ dreams altered. The only other person who knows the orchestrators of this menace is their friend, Kubra. But the problem is that Kubra is a helpless ghost who is trapped in limbo. So, each girl must forge her path to freedom, new dreams, and agency amidst challenging circumstances.
What other professions have you worked in? What’s something about you that your readers wouldn’t know?
I have a first degree in banking and finance and right after college I briefly worked in a bank in my home country.
What books did you read (for research or comfort) throughout your writing process?
For research, apart from the interviews I conducted at an internally displaced person’s camp in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital city, I read a ton of books and watched some video recordings related to the subject matter of the novel. Some books include Isha Sesay’s Beneath the Tamarind Tree, Wolfgang Bauer’s Stolen Girls, Helen Habila’s The Chibok Girls, Alex Perry’s The Hunt for Boko Haram, and Women and the War on Boko Haram by Hilary Matfess, to mention a few.
What is one thing you hope readers take away from reading your book? How do you envision your perfect reader?
What I hope readers would take away from reading my novel: entertainment, information, enlightenment and empathy.
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