THE AUTHOR BEHIND THE WORDS SERIES: MEET MICHAEL CHUKWUDI
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Michael Chukwudi graduated with a First Class (Honours) Bachelor’s degree from the Department of Applied Biology, Ebonyi State University, Nigeria. He had his National Youth Service Corps in the Department of Biological Sciences, Federal University Dutse, Jigawa State. He’s a member of the Association of Nigerian Authors (ANA), Ebonyi State Chapter. His writing includes poems, fictions, essays, research writing and short stories. He has published in Water Anthology India, 2020 Mahmag Plague Anthology, FCMB Flexx Zone website, Best African New Poets, Zimbabwe and African Brave Voices Poetry Journal 60.
In this series of interviews, Zaftyg will share with you the stories and the people behind the words of talented artists.
What are you currently working on?
I’m strongly promoting my debut book ‘Undeserved’.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
When I’m not writing, I like to read good books or listen to cool music.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I wrote my first book in 2007 when I was in Junior Secondary School, although I didn’t complete it. I had thirteen years old then. I also wrote two other ones in Senior Secondary School but did not publish them. The first time I tried producing a successful manuscript was in my third year at the University.
What is your writing process like?
My process involves three distinct stages which are research, drafting and editing. In the research stage, I try to get information about the place of my settings. The people living there and their culture. Fiction though, but I want to take it away from fantasy. In drafting, I think of character names that will go with the period of the setting and then plan the plots. After the first draft is thorough editing and proofreading before pitching.
Have you ever considered writing under a pseudonym, and why or why not?
Capital NO, I want my identity to be known by my audience.
What do you think makes a good story?
A good story is one capable of creating a positive change. A story that is devoid of favoritism and lies.
What do you need in your writing space to help you stay focused?
I’d say encouragement, support and good reviews.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I have always been energized by writing. Writing is like extra mitochondria in my body cells. The mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell, that’s how writing powers me.
What’s your career’s highlight?
Published on National and International anthologies, won several writing awards, taught English Language and Literature, coached a lot of budding writers and mentored as well, a certified creative writer from a recognized publisher in Nigeria, Worked in Biological Science department Federal University Dutse, Volunteered for 2021 Anambra Youth Decide volunteer program.
Do you play music while you write — and, if so, what’s your favorite?
Not always but when I do, it must be one of Celine Dion’s, Sia, Adele or One Direction.
What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
I do not have any schedule anyway. I write as the inspiration leads, then follows the research process.
What is your kryptonite as a writer?
Perfectionism, heavy revising and too much research. Trying to get it absolutely right. Trying to do too much.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
The most difficult part would be the editing process. I read over and over again to perfect the manuscript. I think it is because of my tenacity. That’s to say, when I do something, I want to do it right.
What comes first for you — the plot or the characters — and why?
The characters come first once I know the story I want to tell. Knowing the characters will help me develop the plot. However, I do start with a few characters.
How do you develop your plot and characters?
The period of the story helps me know the type of characters to implore. I then make the characters develop in intriguing ways by giving them the right skills and from there, the plots develop.
How do you select the names of your characters?
Like I said earlier, the period or era of the setting influences the names of my characters.
There are therapeutic benefits to modeling a character after someone you know?
Smiles! I have modeled a character I know several times. It has the benefit of bringing reality to the story. Nonetheless, I have had publishers call to ask me if my stories were real.
How did you come up with the title for your first book?
People I met in real life told me stories of how they were betrayed by their loved ones. And it was mostly due to jealousy. Nonetheless, it is very common in society today. I deemed it right to create a story using characters to represent this story of friendship, enviousness and betrayal. That was where the title ‘Undeserved’ emerged from. It’s really Undeserved to betray people we claimed to love because of envy.
What is the most unethical practice in the publishing industry?
Upcoming writers not be given chances. It’s like an unwritten law in the publishing industry to frustrate the dreams of upcoming writers. Every writer deserves a chance if he’s creative.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
It will always be the trap of becoming a published writer in a twinkling of an eye. They have been preyed on by the vanity press because of impatience.
What other authors are you friends with, and how do they help you become a better writer?
I have many writer friends but there are a few that will remain very important in my journey of becoming a better writer. People like Chinua Achebe; nonetheless, I indirectly learn from him by reading his books. Dr Mackpherson Okpara, Richard Inya, Dr Ofonime Inyang, Prof. Okpanachi Musa Idris and Shachia Oryila.
What was an early experience where you learned that language had power?
That was when I started writing. I had this problem with description and the use of linking words. I improved with time as I progressed.
If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
No piece of yours is trash. I abandoned the manuscript I wrote when I started as a writer because I felt it was inferior.
If you could meet your characters, what would you say to them?
I will have to advise the antagonists to create a society that will be fit for all to coexist. But for my protagonists, I would give them a warm hug and tell them to keep being the good people they were.
How do you want to help moving humanity forward?
I don’t want to keep my fingers crossed waiting for the world to get better. I want to use my writing to improve the life of every human.
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