Born in Akron, Ohio to Nigerian parents, Unoma Nwankwor is an award winning author of several fiction titles, and a champion of purpose. She’s passionate about pushing women past the stagnation of uncertainty by building confident expectations in the promises of God. She’s the host of the Anchor Talk Podcast and the COO of KevStel Group LLC, a faith based Entertainment Company.
Unoma is the recipient of the Nigerian Writers’ Award 2015 Best Faith Based Fiction Writer. At the end of 2016, she was short listed for the Diaspora Writer of the Year for 2017. She was also recently named as one of the “100 Most Influential Nigerian Writers Under 40.” Unoma resides in Atlanta with her husband and two children.
BPM: Tell us about your most recent work. Available on Nook and Kindle?
Unoma Nwankwor: In the Dark is my first nonfiction project born out of my desire to push Christianprenuers like myself past the stagnation of uncertainty by clinging to hope and having confidence in God’s promises. Often times we struggle in our meantime places. Hopelessness begins to set in when we just can’t seem to catch a break or have no idea what God’s game plan is. In the Dark takes an insightful journey through Jeremiah 29 and the people of Judah when they too were in a place of darkness (exile).
It is available on Kindle http://bit.ly/ITDGlow. It will be available on Nook, iTunes and Kobo soon.
BPM: What inspired you to sit down and actually start writing this book? Nonfiction. Why now?
Unoma Nwankwor: When I first started writing, my plan was never to write fiction. Seems ironic since my fiction novels are very well sought after and reader’s favorites. I bless God and I’m so thankful to the readers. I always thought I would be a nonfiction writer. Why now? Simple it’s time. Time to step into my divine appointment as a champion of purpose.
In the Dark is a very personal book for me. Everything I talk about in the book, I have been through. I know what it feels like to have Jesus in your heart and still struggle with doubt, fear, despair, anger and even weariness. In this book, I shed layers that you don’t get to see from my fiction novels or social media posts. As Jesus helped me through, it’s time for me to help my brethren.
BPM: How do you deal with balancing faith, family and business? Do you have any tips for us?
Unoma Nwankwor: Short and simple answer, I have no idea but by the grace of God. Long answer, I have accepted the fact that I can’t be everything at the same time. This will tie into my tip and that’s to be fully present in whatever you place your focus at any given time. You won’t be able to juggle all balls to perfection all the time but make sure the ball you put down is not doesn’t remain down too long.
My second tip is steal pockets of time and don’t be afraid to ask for help. I stay connected in faith because that is the Source for everything, but for the time I have to give the kids fast food because I have to write. I concentrate on maximizing that time. And the time I need to be with my husband and kids, nothing disturbs that.
BPM: Tell us a little about your creative process. What brought about In the Dark?
Unoma Nwankwor: Since this is non-fiction, not a lot of “creativity” went into it. I simple told the story with personal testimony and some early reviews say, with humor. Coming up with unique chapter titles however was fun like “Because He Said So” or “Blessings Held Hostage.” I have a very close writing sister/friend, Yejide Kilanko whom I bounce ideas off of. In the Dark, simply put was brought on because I was tired of seeing women go through what I did. Start something and let it go along the way because they didn’t have the support to push them through the dark places of the journey. I had my husband but my will was weak. I would’ve been farther along than I am today if I didn’t give up on my dreams in the early 2000s. But then again I’m a firm believer that no detour is wasted. So, I had to go through that so I can now provide what others need.
BPM: Is writing easy for you? Do you feel lonely being a writer?
Unoma Nwankwor: I giggled at this question. Some would expect the answer to be yes, writing is lonely. Not for me. By nature, I’m an introvert but my passion pushes me out into the world so I’ve learned to adjust. So being alone is how I recharge. Writing is easy but being that the Holy Spirit is my muse, I have to learn to listen to His guidance. I never want my ambition to overshadow the story He wants me to tell.
BPM: Do you have any suggestions to help us become a better writers? If so what are they?
Unoma Nwankwor: Although cliché, the saying remains true. Practice makes perfect. The more you exercise your writing muscle the better you become. My tip will be to remain true to you and your voice. It is okay to admire writers that have gone before you but there is only one “them” so you must be “you”. Trust, there is an audience out there your authenticity makes them notice.
BPM: What did you enjoy most about writing this book?
Unoma Nwankwor: I enjoyed the intimacy of it. Blogging is my first love and I do a lot of it. I love it because, I get to write in first person and I feel like Im having a chat with a friend over coffee. Writing In the Dark brought about that same feeling. I was just chatting away.
BPM: How much planning goes into writing a book? How long does it take to complete one of your books?
Unoma Nwankwor: Once I have the story I want to write, I outline, pray and begin. From my first draft, several revisions and rewrites to editing and proofing a book normally takes me six months dedicated time. It might be longer considering I have a full-time job, wife and mommy duties and running my business. In The Dark, took about eight months because I stopped to release my latest fiction title.
BPM: Share one specific point in your book that resonated with your present situation or journey.
Unoma Nwankwor: The principle of confidently expecting God to fulfill His promise to me because of who He is and not because of anything I’ve done. When the details of my path seem fuzzy, my hope that the end will be favorable keeps me anchored and helps me push through.
BPM: Did you learn anything personal from writing your book?
Unoma Nwankwor: The one thing I learned writing this book was that I often underestimate my own strength. Not being braggadocios, but I think sometimes just because we aren’t where we want to be yet, we fail to pause and give God praise and tell ourselves well done for where we came from.
BPM: How has writing impacted your life?
Unoma Nwankwor: Writing and talking about my books has given me an inner strength, I never thought I had. This quote by Laurel Bleadon-Maffei describes the feeling perfectly. It is my go to quote, I have it everywhere, office, notebook, laptop (smile). It says, “I found my heart upon a mountain I did not know I could climb, and I wonder how many other pieces of myself are secreted away in places I judge I cannot go.” Gosh I love that quote. It is so me. So, me.
BPM: What does literary success look like to you?
Unoma Nwankwor: My goal is to entertain with a purpose; entertaining, edifying and educating my readers about the continent of Africa especially my home country Nigeria. There is a lot of misrepresentation in the media about the continent that I aim to correct or shed a truer light on. My stories fuse faith, romance and African spice. So, my success comes from readers getting exactly what I’m trying to offer. Literary success to me is when I get tagged by readers who see a dish, dance or clothing from Africa and says it reminded them of me and my work. Or saying how they laughed or where encouraged in faith, love and hope. Then I have done my job. That is literary success to me.
BPM: What projects are you working on at the present?
Unoma Nwankwor: Presently, I’m working on multiple things. For the production side of my company KevStel Group LLC, we are shooting our second movie called Muna. We just concluded the Nigerian shoot, the LA shoot is next. I’m also expanding my nonfiction platform. In the Dark and my podcast Anchor Talk are the first steps in getting that off the ground. I’ll also have digital courses, champion consult sessions, free guides and webinars coming up. In regards to publishing and my author brand, my hope is to resume fiction later this year with the Mended With Love, the conclusion to my Sons of Ishmael series.
BPM: How can readers discover more about you and your work?
Unoma Nwankwor: Readers can connect with me by visiting www.unomanwankwor.com and my social media top spots. I’m everywhere but the main ones are Instagram, @unwankwor. Twitter @unwankwor. And on Facebook they can join the Anchor Tribe: https://www.facebook.com/groups/AnchorTribe. My book is listed on Amazon: http://bit.ly/ITDGlow
More Unoma Nwankwor Books: http://bit.ly/ITDGlow