Tuesday, June 20, 2017

SPECIAL FEATURE: The Mystery of a Sleuth

Joyce T. Strand, Author
The Jillian Hillcrest Mysteries (3)
The Bryn Bancroft Mysteries (3)
The Judge's Story
The Reporter's Story
How do you start to write a novel? Do you begin with a plot, a character, a genre? What comes first?

I started to write mystery novels in 2009. I selected the genre based on my love of reading all types of mysteries or suspense thrillers--noir, spy, cozy, hard-boiled, contemporary, historical. The only type of mystery I didn't like was true crime--too many loose ends!

After agonizing for a year about what should come first, I realized that for me, the character not only was first but would drive the plot.

 As I get ready to publish my ninth novel in November, I'm reminded of my process in the following discussion, which has steered me through the penning of my eight published mysteries. 

“Every man [and woman] at the bottom of his [her] heart believes that he [she] is a born detective.” John Buchan [bracketed additions mine!]

My path to writing a mystery began with choosing my character—the sleuth who would be the hero and solve the crime.

As an ardent reader of mysteries, I have many favorites—Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch, a police detective who doesn’t always play by the rules but usually gets the guilty one. I immediately connect to almost all of John Grisham’s crime-fighting lawyers who fight for the
rights of their clients. Kathy Reichs whose background as a forensics anthropologist resulted in the Temperance Brennan series that pulls me into the bone-analysis process for unearthing the guilty party.

 I enjoy reading how Patricia Cornwell’s Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner, figures it out even while she is threatened by culprits. And I’ll never forget the orchids grown by the rotund Nero Wolf created by Rex Stout as he and his assistant Archie manage to solve an intricate mystery without Wolf leaving his house.

 But how could I—a public relations executive with a thirty-year background of writing biotech and high tech articles and speaking to the public on behalf of my Silicon Valley companies—how
could I possibly write about crimes from the perspective of any expert? I didn’t have Michael Connelly’s crime reporter background, nor John Grisham’s lawyer training or practice.

But, I proceeded with John Buchan’s theory that we all believe we are born detectives. Therefore, anyone can be a detective. Beginning with my first novel, I determined that I would exploit my own background to feature a credible and interesting amateur sleuth.

I found many examples of other authors who have produced outstanding mysteries without depending on skilled crime scene investigative skills. British author Dick Francis relied on his experience as a jockey, and his non-detective characters encountered criminals and plenty of crimes to solve around the horse racing industry. Mary Higgins Clark creates everyday protagonists, whose crime-fighting varies with her settings, and they certainly find evil-doers. Nora Roberts manages to mix crime and romance and also uses settings to vary the plot. Even Nancy Drew was an amateur who as a teenager managed to solve crimes.

So, you guessed it, my first amateur sleuth, Jillian Hillcrest, was a public relations expert at a biotech company in Silicon Valley. In my first three novels, she got involved and solved crimes inspired by real California cases. My next three contemporary mysteries featured her boss, a financial executive turned winemaker. After all, I know about wine. I drink it all the time.

My next mystery, scheduled for release in November 2017, will feature an out-of-work young woman who has been somewhat marooned in the unincorporated small town of Ramona, California when she breaks up with her fiancĂ©. I currently live in Ramona and have selected it as the setting, because it is unique in so many ways—it’s a contradiction of rural roads and ranches surrounded by scenic mountain views peopled with cowboys on horses, and peppered with vineyards, wineries, and a growing artist community—all less than 35 miles from downtown San Diego.

My newest contemporary character, Emily Lazarro, is also a contrast of characteristics—she tries to please everyone, which thwarts her desire to be independent. But in the same way that I learned about the community, so does Emily. And despite running into difficulties and even a murder—or two—Emily also grows into her sleuth’s role.

As with all my amateur sleuths, various events draw Emily into the need to solve a crime. But I can’t tell you any more, or that would be a spoiler. But just know that Emily is at the center of it all.

Joyce T Strand Amazon Author page

Thursday, May 18, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Russ Colchamiro, Author

Russ Colchamiro, Author
Russ Colchamiro strives to write books that his readers “can’t wait to finish.” Readers of his science fiction novel, CROSSLINE, say the book isa good old fashioned yarn with just the right touch of action, humor and a few nice twists thrown in.” Colchamiro is drawn to science fiction because of the scope and breadth it gives to his imagination. He approaches his characters in depth to understand their motivations. Although he focuses on giving the reader a “fun ride”, he also offers thin layers of his own beliefs.

Colchamiro has also written the Finders Keepers sci-fi comedy series, including, FINDERS KEEPERS, GENIUS DE MILO, and ASTROPALOOZA. He is a contributing editor to a new science-fiction anthology, LOVE, MURDER AND MAYHEM, which he plans to release in July. He currently lives in New Jersey with his family, including his twin children (girl and boy.)

Q: What draws you to write science fiction?

Russ Colchamiro: Regardless of the genre, my goal is to write a great, compelling story that readers can’t wait to finish, so the fundamentals always need to be there—plot, characters, pacing, etc. Given that, science fiction allows me to dream as big as I want, or take the characters—and thus the readers—on a journey that wouldn’t be possible otherwise. Within these wild pulp adventures, I like to juxtapose the big, epic questions (What does it all mean? Is life itself random? Is there a grand design? Where do I fit in?) with the ‘smaller’ struggles of everyday life.

So even though the characters may be on some kind of intergalactic quest, or in a ‘foreign’ land (that happens to exist in another quadrant of time and space), the struggles they face are all too human. Love, guilt, fear, joy, passion, loyalty, family, sex, desire, and so on. And if they happen to be facing off against a galactic threat, all the better. When you sit down to read, I want the edges of each page to melt away.
Q: Reviewers say that in CROSSLINE your “Characters felt like people I knew from my own life.” When writing science fiction, how do your approach your characters? Are they bigger-than-life resembling super-heroes? Or are they, as reviewers suggest, “people I knew?”

Russ Colchamiro: My process is to climb inside the hearts and minds of every character I write, whether they are the protagonists, antagonists, or supporting players, and do my best to understand their motivations, so that I can deliver intimate character studies within the grand adventure. Whether ‘everyday people’ or more flamboyant personalities (my cast of players include lots of both) I want each one—male, female, young, old—to feel real and grounded within the confines of the narrative … quirks, contradictions, and all, even down to their speech patterns and cadence. Some characters are loosely based on people I know (or knew), others are amalgams, with the rest pure invention, reflecting various elements of my own personality.

Q: Reviewers also say CROSSLINE is a “Solid blending of science fiction and satire” and “Just the right touch of action, humor and a few nice twists thrown in. It never takes itself too seriously while still grabbing you by the shirt.” How useful was humor to tell your story?

Russ Colchamiro: Humor appears in all of my novels. It’s a natural element of my writing style. But there’s a distinction between sprinkling humor within the narrative, and writing an all-out comedy, which I have certainly done with the FINDERS KEEPERS trilogy. CROSSLINE has its humorous moments for sure, but it’s not a comedy, per se. It’s action/adventure/mystery, with my usual time-bending shenanigans and humor woven in.

Q: Did you write CROSSLINE primarily to entertain your readers or did you embed a few messages or themes along the way?

Russ Colchamiro: Both. I approach each book with a sense of fun, wonder, and adventure, with my hope that readers will come away feeling like they were taken on a wild, unforgettable ride. But underneath the surface of the pulpy SciFi tale I embed elements that are important to me and shape my own worldview—philosophy, history, mysticism, mythology, meditation, and transcendentalism. These elements are prevalent in my novels. But nothing too preachy. I want the readers to have a blast!

Q: How did you create credibility for readers as they explored parallel universes, time travel, and an altered Earth?

Russ Colchamiro: As long as you explain the ‘rules’ of each of these worlds, and stay consistent within them, the credibility is there. I try to include enough details and world building so that readers can say, “ah, okay, I get where I am and how this all works. I’m good.” If that happens, the narrative and characters are free to go wherever the story takes them.

Q: Does the concept of “hero versus villain” apply to CROSSLINE? What makes a compelling villain?

Russ Colchamiro: My novels tend to be far less about ‘hero versus villain’ and more about the hero’s journey. In CROSSLINE, our ‘hero’ Marcus Powell is testing experimental warp thrusters, when (for reasons I won’t spoil here) he’s forced through a wormhole and into a parallel Earth, drawn into a battle he may actually have been destined for all along. He desperately wants to get back to his wife and young daughter, but the needs of the characters he meets on the ‘other Earth’ overtly conflict with his desire to get home.

Meanwhile, on our Earth, 90-year-old Harlan “Buddy” Rheams Jr.—the CEO of the private space corporation that launched Powell’s flight—may or may not have Powell’s best interests in mind.

There are some villainous characters in CROSSLINE for sure, and others more heroic, but I’m far more interested in characters that come to question their motivations, navigate the often confusing and ambiguous choices they face, then have to make decisions, and live with the consequences.

Q: How do you use your settings or worlds to propel the story?  Do they help to evolve your characters?

Russ Colchamiro: Both instinctively and by design I write each story like a mystery. Reveal, conceal, reveal again. Investigate, falter, discover, investigate again. The worlds in some cases are additional characters, with the journey to and from those worlds essential to the narrative.

The characters often find themselves unexpectedly thrust into new environments, having to discover and navigate them. Then—on their ‘heroes journey’ so richly described by Joseph Campbell in “The Hero with a Thousand Faces”—by hook or by crook figure out how, when, and why they really need or want to get back home, and if that’s even possible. And even if they do make it back, it’s unlikely they’ll be the same as when they left. That’s certainly the case with CROSSLINE.

Powell’s emersion in the ‘other Earth’ tests him in ways he never even considered. Most of the other characters also get their own arcs. Among others, Powell gets involved with a trigger happy rebel leader who reminds him of his wife, a pot-smoking shaman, a crafty pie-maker, and a weary solider who hates his guts. Some pass those tests. Some fail. Some do both.

Q: What’s next? Will we see more science fiction novels from you?

Russ Colchamiro: Yes! In July I’ll be launching LOVE, MURDER & MAYEHM, a science fiction-themed anthology from Crazy 8 Press, with 15 authors in total. I serve as the editor, and am contributing a story of my own. Each story contains at least one element of love or romance, at least one murder, and lots of mayhem, all in various, unrelated settings.

We have superhero and supervillain stories. We have artificial intelligence, off-world, and space cruiser stories. We also have dream surrogates, private eyes, an aliens vs. monsters showdown, and one DuckBob!

Some tales are wacky, some darker, and others pure fun. Mine is a private eye tale, with the PI—Angelica Hardwicke—written in that classic Sam Spade style, pinstripe suit, fedora, and all. I’m diving pretty deep into the mystery arena these days as both a reader and an author, so this collection was loads of fun to pull together. 

Q: Tell us about Russ Colchamiro. What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Russ Colchamiro: Ha. I’m a New York City transplant now living in northern New Jersey, married with twins—my ninjas, a boy and a girl, nearly seven. So between my family, my crazy dog Simon, my books, and my full-time day job as a real estate media specialist in NYC, it doesn’t leave room for much else! But I’m a lifelong baseball junkie, and gobble up fiction in whatever form I can, whenever I can. I’m actually watching The Flash on Netflix with my kids. They absolutely love it. Oh, yeah. Occasionally I sleep!

About Russ Colchamiro

Russ Colchamiro is the author of the rollicking space adventure, CROSSLINE, the hilarious sci-fi backpacking comedy series, FINDERS KEEPERS, GENIUS DE MILO, and ASTROPALOOZA, and is editor of the new anthology, Love, Murder & Mayhem, all with Crazy 8 Press.

Russ lives in New Jersey with his wife, two children, and crazy dog, Simon, who may in fact be an alien himself. Russ has also contributed to several other anthologies, including Tales of the Crimson Keep, Pangaea, and Altered States of the Union, and TV Gods 2. He is now at work on a top-secret project, and a Finders Keepers spin-off.

As a matter of full disclosure, readers should not be surprised if Russ spontaneously teleports in a blast of white light followed by screaming fluorescent color and the feeling of being sucked through a tornado. It’s just how he gets around — windier than the bus, for sure, but much quicker.


In the spirit of Firefly, Flash Gordon, Stargate, and Escape from New York...

Hotdog pilot Marcus Powell has been selected to test Taurus Enterprises' Crossline prototype craft and its newly developed warp thrusters, which, if successful, will revolutionize space travel as we know it.

But during his jaunt across the stars, Powell is forced into a parallel universe -- including a parallel Earth -- where he finds himself at the center of an epic battle he may have been destined for all along.

Meanwhile, back home, reclusive oil tycoon and Taurus CEO Buddy Rheams Jr. -- who sent Powell on that very mission -- has a mysterious past and a secret agenda, one that could prevent Powell from ever making it back to his wife and little girl.

From author Russ Colchamiro, CROSSLINE is a psychedelic, action-packed romp across time, space, and dimension that asks the question: once you cross the line, can you ever really go back?


Other Books by Russ Colchamiro                                                 

Sunday, April 2, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Stephen Jared, Author and Actor

Stephen Jared, Actor and Author
Stephen Jared’s newest novel, NEED MORE ROAD, offers what Jared describes as his own “temperament” on a “classic subject”—a bank heist turned into romance. He uses the setting of the 1950s in Barstow, Calif. to support his plot and develop his characters. Reviewers applaud his “insight into human nature” and add that his books are “dramatic, adventuresome, and infused with real emotion.”

In addition to writing novels that include adventure stories set in the 1930s and 1940s, Jared is also an actor and has appeared in movies such as He's Just Not That Into You, and on television series such as iCarly and Criminal Minds. He is currently Associate Producer of a documentary on the illustrator Richard Amsel. And he is busy writing his next adventure story and plans to release it the end of the year.

Q: Would you characterize your newest book, NEED MORE ROAD, as a romance or suspense novel? What drew you to write this story?

Stephen Jared: A million bank heist stories have been told. So, once I had the idea, I began thinking of it like how a painter might approach a still life or landscape. There’s only one reason to paint such a thing, and that’s to express one’s own temperament through a classic subject. As such, it evolved into an eccentric romance. It starts with suspense surrounding a crime but, for me, it’s more interesting to see where the characters go from there. Without a doubt, there’s some genre-bending going on. I saw that as a good thing but some readers have been thrown by it.  

Q: I know you’ve written many novels set in the first half of the 20th century. What draws you to this time period? Would NEED MORE ROAD have been a different story if set in present-day rather than in the 1950s?

Stephen Jared: Some writers capture their own era so beautifully. Fitzgerald and Hemingway leap to mind. I’m not that smart. I’m confused by our modern world. I can’t get enough of a handle on it to write about it. When I look back to an earlier era, however, objectivity and generalizations become easier. As example, NEED MORE ROAD is set in the 1950s, and I gave a lot of thought to why the 1950s was a car culture. Obviously, people had more money after the war, but that doesn’t answer why people would drive to a restaurant and have dinner brought to them in their cars. People were cruising and drag racing. Teenagers were getting cars and parking while on dates. People were going to Drive-Ins and watching films in their cars. I wondered if there was a lot of anxiety and restless energy after the war, and maybe cars helped alleviate some of that. You could put things behind you faster behind the wheel of a car. Some of these ideas found their way into NEED MORE ROAD. The distance from iconic elements of an era maybe gives my mind some room to think.    

Q: A reviewer says of your protagonist, Eddie, that you’ve created “a poignant character study of a lonely man living in quiet desperation.” Is NEED MORE ROAD more about your characters, particularly Eddie, than about the plot?

Stephen Jared: I think the book’s success or failure pivots on the degree to which readers find Eddie engaging. What appealed to me was this guy who has always lived vicariously through fictional characters, now he’s almost fifty, meets someone, and feels he’s plunged into a different world, and it’s a world he wants to stay in. In order to continue, he takes a massive risk. Reality proves hard, fraught with dangers. Reality lands every punch and it’s brutal. But only in reality can Eddie lose the loneliness that’s plagued him his whole life. The plot ended up driven very much by what I wanted to express through the character.  

Q: Do you consider Eddie a hero? Why or why not?

Stephen Jared: He’s dysfunctional. He’s cowardly. He’s an unhappy guy. Constantly questioning everything. When he pulls his head out of the cinema long enough to see himself as he really is he goes so far as to involve himself in a crime with hopes of becoming someone new. Of course, people can’t change overnight, but in going down a different road he finds strength he didn’t have before. He gains some satisfaction. He actually begins living a life not so different from the fictional characters he used to envy on the silver screen. It’s hard to change your life, to leave everything you know behind. Eddie does a heroic thing. But, no, he’s not a hero at all. 

Q: Why did you set NEED MORE ROAD in Barstow, Calif.? Does this location support your plot or help develop characters?

Stephen Jared: 1950s Barstow was small. It was a place people passed through without paying much attention to it. It lacked glamor. It lacked significance, and it was surrounded by nothing but desert. I felt it offered a reflection of Eddie Howard, the main character.

Q: Reviewers hint that NEED MORE ROAD is different from your other books, which are more hard-boiled pulp fiction.  Do you agree?  (Please do not divulge the end of your story to respond to this question.)

Stephen Jared: I see it as an extension of what I was doing with the last one, THE BRUTAL ILLUSION, which was something more introspective. I love hard-hitting noirs and adventures, but if you remain really true to the form the stories risk becoming nothing more than homage. I think you have to offer something different. I think uniqueness is found in self-expression; you just have to be careful about becoming overly self-indulgent. 

Q: How helpful is humor at developing your characters or plot?

Stephen Jared: Humor is a plus. I think especially so if you’re working with a melancholic character like Eddie. You have to lighten things up here and there.

Q: As an actor, can you apply aspects of script-writing to writing a novel, e.g., scene development, dialogue-based, showing rather than telling?

Stephen Jared: Both require some similar skills. I don’t think one is easier than the other but the function of each demands a very different discipline. A script is more like an architect’s blueprint for a house. The readers of a script are fellow craftsmen. A novel isn’t assigned dozens of interpretive artists to jump on board and move it through a long process before it hits the marketplace. It begins and ends with the written word.

Q: What’s next?

Stephen Jared: I’m currently at work on another Jack Hunter adventure. I hope to get it out in the Fall.

Q: What have you been doing recently in addition to writing?

Stephen Jared:  I’m Associate Producer of a documentary on the illustrator Richard Amsel. It’s a film by Adam McDaniel, and there’s probably no one better suited to be making a film about Amsel. It’s been great to be supporting him however I can. I’m also still acting. I recently did an episode of The Young and The Restless, which aired a couple of weeks ago.

About Stephen Jared

Stephen Jared grew up in a small Ohio town in the late 1970s/early 1980s. He was at the cinema every weekend. When considering what he might do as an adult he only had one idea: he wanted to work in movies. In the summer of 1989 he moved to Los Angeles. He was twenty-one years old. Since then, he’s appeared as an actor in movies such as He's Just Not That Into You, and on television series such as iCarly and Criminal Minds.

In 2010, he wrote JACK AND THE JUNGLE LION, a novel inspired by 1930s Hollywood. Having received much critical praise, Solstice Publishing began releasing his work, starting with TEN-A-WEEK STEALE, hailed as a “fantastic work in the tradition of the old pulp/noir masters.”  THE ELEPHANTS OF SHANGHAI continued on from where JACK AND THE JUNGLE LION left off, and went on to take Second Place at the 2013 Hollywood Book Festival. 2014 saw the release of THE BRUTAL ILLUSION, considered by many to be his best work.   

While remaining busy as both author and actor, Stephen is also Associate Producer of an upcoming documentary about movie poster legend Richard Amsel who created classic illustrations for Flash Gordon and Raiders of the Lost Ark, among others, in the late 1970s/early 1980s. 

Eddie lives a life of uncommon routine. At nearly fifty-years-old, he’s only ever lived in one house. Bored with his bank job, he spends evenings at the movies where he lives vicariously through Rock Hudson and Robert Mitchum. With one screen in town he often sees the same picture repeatedly. He finds Hollywood fantasies infinitely more enticing than reality. Late one Friday, a woman walks into the bank. Her name is Mary Rose, and she looks like Marilyn Monroe. Her father came into money and the two are looking to settle in a small town. Infatuated, Eddie breaks from routines and spends time with her. While she couldn't be sweeter, her father is different. He has a roughness about him, an edge. This becomes especially clear when he requests Eddie's help with a bank heist. Mary Rose’s interest in Eddie was only to lure him into helping her father. Eddie understands this now. Walking away is the obvious move. He knows it’s the right thing to do. Yet her attention and affection and beauty have made him feel alive for the first time. All he has to do is unlock a door.



Wednesday, March 29, 2017

WHAT THE EXPERTS SAY: Chioma Nnani, Author, Publisher

Chioma Nnani, Author
Welcome back Chioma Nnani who brings us her second book, BECAUSE HOME IS, “a collection of short stories about finding home, going home, and being home.” Previously, she told us about her novel, FOREVER THERE FOR YOU, a coming-of-age, chick lit, modern romance, contemporary fiction book. She wrote the short stories in BECAUSE HOME IS because she wanted to explore why people run to and away from something—and the concept of home helps answer the question.

In addition to writing, Nnani also started her own publishing house to give herself more control over her own books and also to help “internationalize” African authors’ works for publication. She holds multiple degrees, including a law degree, and has won many awards for her writing. She definitely plans to continue writing and is working on more short stories, her second novel, and a trilogy targeted at teenagers which she plans to release this summer. Given her schedule, her most prized past-time is “sleeping.”

Don't miss the excerpt from BECAUSE HOME IS following the interview.

Q: What drove you to write short stories about BECAUSE HOME IS? Were your experiences with your own home particularly meaningful?

Chioma Nnani: I read a novel a long time ago by Faye Kellerman, in which one of the characters – a police officer – said that everyone is either running away from or towards something. But over time, it dawned on me that people run because they are uncomfortable. Discomfort can come in different ways. You stop running when you have peace. Home is where you have peace.

Q: How do you define “home?” I frequently think of Robert Frost’s definition: "Home is the place where, when you have to go there, they have to take you in." Would that definition fall within your descriptions or experiences?

Chioma Nnani: Home is a person, place or thing where you can be naked and unashamed. You don't have to run any more when you get home. There are various routes to home because it's different for many people and it takes different lengths of time for everyone to get there. But when you get there, you're there. Safe. You can be challenged or kept on your toes, but you're safe. Home and dry.

Q: Do you believe that the experience of “home” contributes to a positive approach to life? Or do negative people also have a “home” they can relate to? Does even the most heinous criminal comprehend the concept of home?

Chioma Nnani: Hmm … I'd like to think that the contributions of home are always positive and this is bearing in mind that 'positive' is a subjective term. However, there are people who will cover for even the most heinous criminal. And as uncomfortable as that sounds, even they have a home of some sort.

Q: Do you write that home is a concept of the future for people, i.e., it is what we search for? Or is home where we’re from? Both?

Chioma Nnani: I find it tends to be one or the other. Sometimes, you're looking for or you think you're looking for something and there are times when it's right in front of you. Or you find that you're enough.

Q: What would restrict or amplify the meaning of home: wealth, freedom, environment?

Chioma Nnani: Freedom. Freedom in every sense; you can't beat freedom. A place, relationship or job where you have no freedom is a jail cell; that's not home.

Q: You have also published a novel, FOREVER THERE FOR YOU, and have won numerous writing awards, earned an LLB degree, and founded The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium Ltd., a publishing company. How do you carve out time to write? Do you have a routine?

Chioma Nnani: (laughing) The company is actually a media and publishing company, so the publishing bit is literally just one department. There's a department that works with entrepreneurs and SMEs, providing done-for-you services to enable them focus on their real business. And there's another department that focuses on screen, stage and audio productions. Another whose remit is online and offline training.

So, I do have a bit of a routine. I work with 90-day plans and each entry on the plan is a specific goal with a definite completion date. So, there are four for this year. We're in March so I'm working my way through the first one and it's going pretty well. It helps me with accountability and discipline, because it's not just about writing down “X must be completed by so-and-so date”. There's also a column in which I write something like “B is the repercussion if X is not completed by the specified date.”

I take a look at the plan twice a week to be sure of where I am and what it is I need to be doing, or even what part of the company needs immediate attention. Many of my blog posts and social media posts are scheduled, so I don't have to live on my social media accounts or on my blogazine. I am very brutal with my time; I don't even attend events or stuff that I don't want or have to.

Q: When would you choose to write a short story over a novel? Is it topic- or plot-related? Or does one require more character development?

Chioma Nnani: Oh gosh, I think a short story takes a level of discipline and bravery that's different from a novel. With a short story, you have it at the back of mind that you've only got so many words to play with. It's not a novel, you don't have the luxury of 80,000 words or whatever. I mean with BECAUSE HOME IS … each story is 5,000 words and having to condense everything – plot, flow, character, climax, everything – in a way that still leaves an impact and is a complete story in itself; it's not hard, it's just different.

Q: What drove you to create your own publishing company?

Chioma Nnani: I wanted more creative control and I like a challenge. And I wanted to help other aspiring authors across Africa who didn't know where to turn. It's one thing to have a company agree to take on your work. It's another thing for the company to respect your work and not strip it of its essence. Many of my authors tell purely Afro-centric stories and it does mean a lot to them to have a publisher who gets where they are coming from and can tweak their voice for an international audience without compromising them.

Q: What writing project are you currently working on? What can we expect to see next: another novel or more short stories?

Chioma Nnani: More short stories. I am actually working on my second full-length novel and a collaborative autobiography. But before those come out, there are three books (a trilogy) aimed at teenagers to be released this summer.

Q: What have you been doing to relax lately, assuming you have time?

Chioma Nnani: Sleep!

About Chioma Nnani

Chioma Nnani is an award-winning storyteller, as well as a two-time UK BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award nominee, in the 'Best Author' category. Chioma was a 2016 DIVAS OF COLOUR finalist (in the category of “Diva Author”), a 2016 CREATIVE AFRICAN Awards finalist (in the category of “Best Fiction Writer”), and was named “One of 100 Most Influential Creatives” in 2016 by C.Hub Magazine. She holds a Law (LLB) degree from the University of Kent and a Postgraduate Certificate in Food Law (De Montfort University, Leicester). She is the founder of THE FEARLESS STORYTELLER HOUSE EMPORIUM LTD, and runs the “Memo From A Fearless Storyteller” blogazine at www.fearlessstoryteller.com for which she won the 2016 BEFFTA (Black Entertainment Film Fashion Television and Arts) Award for “Blog of the Year”.

BECAUSE HOME IS … is her second book.

Some say that "Everyone is running from, or towards something".
But you run till you get 'home'.

Everyone wants to go home. You run till you get 'home'. Because 'home' is that person, thing, or place where you can be naked and unashamed.

BECAUSE HOME IS... is a collection of short stories about finding home, going home, and being home.


They first met in his office. Victor ran a diagnostics outfit in one of the plushest areas of the Nigerian capital – a clinic you went to if you wanted people who knew what they were doing. She had come seeking a second opinion with regard to a blood test she had taken somewhere else. From the second he laid eyes on Patricia Ezekwe, Victor Cobham thought she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. He knew her by reputation; Trisha was the industrious young woman behind a lifestyle brand whose products were sweeping through the African continent like wildfire. Stories of her intelligence preceded her. She looked as good as she sounded; her voice was like music to his ears and the stories of her intelligence preceded her. From what he had heard, brands paid her to mention them on social media. He didn't even understand how that worked, but it seemed to work well for her. She was one of the richest, most eligible spinsters in Abuja. Her honesty was refreshing; if she didn't think something was a good fit for her brand, she would refuse to touch it. She expected the same of the staff employed across the businesses that made up Trisha's Emporium – there was a website through which she sold clothes and other fashion items, sourced from upcoming African designers; a luxury concierge shopping service for the super-wealthy looking into specific pieces of real estate all over the world; and a healthy eating mini-empire, which was responsible for the creation and marketing of cakes, smoothies, fruit drinks, cereals and alkaline water. That was how Trisha managed to have women of different classes, ages and financial standing falling over her – she had at least one product or service aimed at them.

It turned out she had been right to seek a second opinion on her blood test; the previous laboratory results had been flawed due to what turned out to be a clerical error. Victor felt an immense rush of relief, when he told her what she needed to know. Asking her out, hadn't been as easy. There were so many reasons for her not to want him. His last girlfriend had said as much, which was part of the reason that she had become an ex. He didn't even like remembering her. So sour was the taste she had left in his mouth. Yet, there were a lot of things about Trisha that made him feel inadequate.

Victor was one of the most eligible bachelors in the city, but he didn't see himself that way. He was consumed with work and didn't really have time to date. It didn't help that there weren't very many prospects for him to date. The ones who were actually available seemed incapable of holding a conversation. Oh, they were physically beautiful, but they tended to fall short in the brains department; there appeared to be some sort of competition among women to see who could be the least intelligent. It was like it was a badge of honour or something. But it was obvious that Trisha had not received that memo. What was all the more frustrating was that there was no way she would be interested in him.

Trisha found it frustrating, too. She thought she felt vibes that told her that this guy liked her. Yet, he confused her. He wouldn't get too close to her, always acted like he was afraid of touching her. In the end, she was the one who asked him out.

It was something he savoured, jut as much as their kisses. He also enjoyed talking to her and being with her. She was very energetic, and she had a heart of gold. When he told her that he had liaised with some ophthalmologists to quietly give out cataract operations to people who could not afford them, Trisha was dumbfounded. She just did not understand why he was so quiet about it. True, he was telling her but there was no media coverage whatsoever. It took Trisha the next three months to learn a lot of things about him – that he was intelligent and dedicated, kind and thoughtful. She also discovered that she was in love with him.

He told her he loved her. So, the next turn of events shocked her. One day they were talking about the future, the next, she received an email from him saying that he didn't think it wasn't a good idea for them to continue their relationship! When she tried to call him, he ignored her calls. As he did all the text messages she sent. He didn't explain. That was when she got really angry and shot back with a truly scathing email. How dare he do this to her? To them? But his reply had been a curt “Leave me alone.” That really burned. There was no way she was going to his house or office. If he didn't want to be with her, fine!


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