Nkasiobi Mbonu is first runner-up of Pengician Poetry Chapbook Prize second edition, 2021. Nkasiobi Mbonu is a scientist, photographer and poet currently based in Lagos, Nigeria. Here, with Chisom Kingslem Orji, she talks about poetry, writing, and other notable issues.
Nkasiobi: My name is Nkasiobi Mbonu and it is really an honour to have my first chapbook published by Poemify Publishers.
Kingslem: How did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
Nkasiobi: I wouldn’t say for sure if there was a change in my writing process but I can say for sure it gave home to my thoughts, that I find as a source of motivation to put out more considering it’s my first.
Kingslem: Wow! This here is amazing and I am sure many readers would look forward to reading from you.
Nkasiobi: I hope so too. I hope they can relate to the stories even more.
Kingslem: What can you say about writing, does it energize or exhaust you?
Nkasiobi: I think it goes both ways. Not writing is simply letting myself get drowned in my own thoughts and when I write, I find energy to carry on. On the basis of exhaustion, I really do drain myself to communicate my feelings and thoughts right. I have always wanted to be a writer that puts the emotions in the words; that way, it’s beyond my story but emotions we all can resonate with.
Kingslem: I love the fact that your response is on the positive side. It shows the desire to communicate your feelings through words for the greater good. Please can you tell us what your writing Kryptonite is?
Nkasiobi: Simply put ‘My love for emotions’. It might sound like a silly way to put it. I find emotions intriguing considering the fact it’s a part of humanity we try so hard to deny its presence. It’s love, guilt, happiness, anger, grief, excitement… name it. If I can feel it, I can write it. In my opinion, they are stories we hide in ‘hard guy’ and I want to tell them.
Kingslem: Wow! I could connect with your response and that’s actually the truth. “If I can feel it, I can write it.” Have you ever gotten reader’s block?
Nkasiobi: Yes! Yes! Yes! There are days/weeks/months I just do not want to meet any character or understand another writer nor even tell my own story. Then on another day, I am doing 10 poems in a day.
Recommended Read: Download Nkasiobi’s “Seashells”, a collection of poems
Kingslem: It happens that way. What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
Nkasiobi: Soonest Nathaniel. Meeting him has been one of the amazing parts of my career. It is for his flush of faith I successfully pulled the poems that made up Seashells. Soonest literally cracks every wall I have built to keep the madness in my creativity in. He dragged me through reading Sylvia Plath, A.K. Blakemore and others (I said drag because he passionately spoke of them).
Kingslem: He sounds like someone everybody should meet. I mean, we need a Nathaniel in our lives. This hype shows he’s really amazing. What authors did you dislike at first but grew into?
Nkasiobi: You can say that again. I don’t think I have read from any author I dislike. I wouldn’t say I haven’t read books. I think the author didn’t exactly hit it for me and most of those I forget as soon as I am done with them. I am into books that tickle my mind and make me wonder if I have even hit it on this madness termed creativity. I want to read books that make me sit up and dig deeper. I don’t dislike it, I just think I don’t relate to the story and it’s not for me.
Kingslem: What are the most important magazines for writers to subscribe to?
Nkasiobi: I think writers should subscribe to any magazine they come across till they find the one they choose to stick with. A Magazine is a writer’s space in my opinion. So writers read as far as they can go. I don’t like stereotypes.
Kingslem: …till they find the one they choose to stick with. I love how your answers are carved. That’s the goal! What’s your favorite under-appreciated novel?
Nkasiobi: Thank you. I think every book from Onyeka Nwelue. He is on fire! I haven’t read all of his books and I wish to have a corner in my library for him. I have read a few pages from his books and I am swept away by everything about his writing. I wouldn’t even say he’s under-appreciated because he isn’t but he is one of those people you would look at and all you think is ‘Nigeria is undeserving of you and they won’t find you to stop you’.
Kingslem: I can imagine that… As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Nkasiobi: Okay. I didn’t expect that one.
Kingslem: I’m sure you didn’t.
Nkasiobi: I sometimes feel like a tiger and the next minute I feel like a koala without sleep. Let’s say tiger.
Kingslem: Why did you choose the tiger?
Nkasiobi: A lot of reasons. First, the good eyesight of tigers. I do have an eye defect and I use aids. I do consider it beyond just clear vision, it’s depth for me. The tiger’s strength and fight back. One punch (from my writing) from a tiger may kill you. They are nocturnal and they like water too. They are hairy. I love hairy.
Kingslem: I’m amazed. One can actually draw strength from them. They’re lovely.
Nkasiobi: Well, literary success would be finally getting to hit all the marks I have set for myself as a writer. They run through, telling my stories confidently, landing a good agent/publisher, best seller books, and even more.
Kingslem: That’s beautiful…We hope to read more from you. Can you tell us the best way to market your book?
Nkasiobi: I think good books sell themselves. If you read a book you like, you recommend to a friend who would tell another and it keeps on. Is there an exact strategy other than it being talked about in as many places as possible? I don’t think I know of that.
Kingslem: This is true, since it’s a good book, it definitely has to sell itself. What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters from the opposite sex?
Nkasiobi: I don’t think I find that difficult. My male friends outnumber my female friends almost 90% and I have listened to them talk. I don’t think I find it difficult understanding their point of view.
Kingslem: So it’s all about the relationship we keep with the opposite sex.
Nkasiobi: I think if you want to understand people, you should walk a mile in their shoes.
Seashells are memories; memories a father left for a daughter. It digs deep into the roots of failures and successes of both Individuals, melancholic and laughs. Seashells is a mix of feelings and emotions. Click here to download Seashells.
Kingslem: Exactly…walk a mile in their shoes. This expressly shows the attitude of the person. What period of your life do you find you write about most often? (child, teenager, young adult)
Nkasiobi: I find myself writing stories I pick along the way. No time frame. Just something that tickles a memory, or someone’s feeling I had to listen to them express and it gives me some kind of feel especially when it is passionately communicated. Whichever it is, I just write my thoughts even if it’s a memory or just flying words in my stomach.
Kingslem: You’re exceptional to be honest. I can’t seem to find words to express it. How many hours a day do you write?
Nkasiobi: Thank you. I don’t think I can say for sure. I just write as it comes. Actually, I spend more time reading and studying than I spend writing. I can just have a thought and it’s all down to a pay in a few minutes. I can do proofreading later.
Kingslem: This means that you’re always with a material to pen those thoughts down right?
Nkasiobi: I won’t say always, but if I don’t have a pen or paper which is almost all the time, I type on my phone.
Kingslem: That’s beautiful…
Nkasiobi: In case I find myself in a place I can’t do either, I usually recite my thoughts till I can put it down. It’s crazy because I literally have to avoid conversations.
Kingslem: Wow! This is new. Finally, if you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Nkasiobi: ‘Dear younger writing self, someday you will be taking an interview. I can only ask you to be consistent because the knowledge you are yet to acquire would make you even greater than you think. So make those errors and learn.’
Kingslem: That someday is today. Consistency is key! Thank you so much for your time.
Nkasiobi: Thank you too.
Kingslem: We look forward to having you here some other time.
Nkasiobi: Thank you.