Click to buy Print Edition Home Page African Writing Online Home Page  
HomeAbout UsNewsinterviewsMemoirsFictionPoetryThe Call to ActionArtReviews

  Adaobi Nwaubani
  Amatoritsero Ede
  Ando Yeva
  Ayesha H. Attah
  Bobby Gawthrop
  Brian Chikwava
  Chuma Nwokolo
  Crispin Oduobuk
  Fela Kuti
  Fiona Jamieson

  Florence Nenakwe
  Funsho Ogundipe
  Genna Gardini
  George E. Clarke
  Grace Kim
  Isabella Morris
  Isobel Dixon
  Ivor W. Hartmann
  Jane Bryce
  Kobus Moolman
  Meshack Owino
  Mwila A. Zaza
  Patrice Nganang
  Petina Gappah
  Rudolf Okonkwo
  Samed Aydin
  Tanure Ojaide
  Tola Ositelu
  Uche Peter Umez
  Unoma Azuah
  Uzor M. Uzoatu
  Wole Soyinka

Submission Guidelines

African Writing Archives


Tricia Adaobi Nwaubani

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani

Nwaubani is a Nigerian writer and author of debut novel, I Do Not Come to you by Chance ( released in the USA on May 5, and in the UK on May 14 ).

She talks to :

photos: Sunmi Smart-Cole

 Chance Happenings
I do not Come to You by Chance

: Let’s paint a personal picture of you. What was growing up like? Where do you live now?

Adaobi Tricia Nwaubani:  I was born in Enugu, Nigeria.  A year later, my parents moved to my hometown, Umuahia.  I spent the first part of my childhood years in Umuahia Town—in the GRA, close to the railway station, amongst the expatriates and the Rotary Club members.  I spent the second part in Umujieze Village, Umuopara, Umuahia—where none of the roads were tarred, where barefoot children yelped with wonder whenever they saw a woman driving a car, where I could look out of my bedroom window and see trees and foliage that were home to different wild animals. 
At 10, I left home to attend boarding school in the Federal Government Girls College, Owerri.  From there, I went on to study Psychology at the University of Ibadan, Nigeria. 
I’ve been living in Abuja, Nigeria, but recently moved to Lagos.

: Tell us about your parents.  
ATN: My father, Chief Chukwuma Hope Nwaubani, is regarded as the most-experienced Chartered Accountant in Umuahia, Abia State.  Some years ago, he went back to study for an additional university degree and graduated as the best law student in his class, at the age of 63.  My mother, Chief Mrs. Patricia Uberife Nwaubani, began her teaching career as the only black teacher in an upper-middle-class British school where the pupils offered her bananas and rubbed the skin on her arm to see if the black pigment would come off.  She also worked in the Nigerian education sector and with the civil service, before resigning in 1983 to join my father in running his private accountancy firm.  Both of them still work together.  Both of them have, at some point or the other, been actively involved in Nigerian politics.

: How did you get started in writing? Was writing always ‘inevitable’ for you?
ATN: Like most writers, I started writing stories before I was ten.  I earned my very first income from winning a writing competition at the age of 13.  That was the first of several writing competition wins.  At 15, I was awarded best poet and playwright in my secondary school. 
But then, writing was just one of the many things I was good at.  Such as chess and Scrabble and oratory and singing and washing dishes.  In fact, I once boasted to a friend that I would be the very best dish-washer if I ever got a job in a restaurant.  That, of course, was before I realised that washing dishes was not the most interesting way for a lady to spend her days.
Years ago, my mother wrote a novel which she never published; my godmother, Mrs. Angela Ukairo, co-authored some of the textbooks I used in school; and Flora Nwapa, the first female black African to have a novel published, was my aunty—my mother’s cousin.  Yet, I was never inspired to serious writing.  Until 2001 when one of my mentors looked into my future and told me that I was supposed to put my writing talent to less leisurely use.  Something inside me clicked, and I suddenly knew. 

: What sort of things did you read as a child? How did they affect how you write?
ATN: My parents purchased most of the books I read as a child.  Most of them were about African children living in mud huts and hawking oranges to pay their school fees.  I read so many of these books that I began wishing my family also lived in a mud hut with thatched roof, and subsisted on proceeds from our yam farm.  It was not until I left home and experienced being broke a few times, that I finally realised there was nothing glamorous about lack. 
As a teenager, I had more freedom over what books I read.  At about the same time, books started disappearing from the shops and the available few became terribly expensive.  (I am told that happened as a result of the series of military dictatorships in Nigeria.)  Most of the books I could get my hands on were borrowed from friends who had borrowed from other friends, and most of the books I purchased were from second-hand book sellers who offered old stock at more affordable prices.  Hence, three quarters of the books I read from my teenage years either had no front or back covers, or started from page 115.  Still, I enjoyed them.  In fact, it was many years before I found out that one of my favourite books of all time was called The Last Hurrah by Edwin O’Connor. 
Fortunately, the Jilly Cooper and Sam Levenson and P.G. Wodehouse books all came with front and back covers!
With time, I learnt to identify the humour writers from the second-hand piles and found myself inadvertently moving away from ‘African stories’.  I became concerned about this and raised the issue with different people.  All of them had similar responses: ‘There is nothing to laugh about in Africa.  War and poverty and hardship are our realities.’  That point of view seemed to make sense until I encountered Frank McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes in 2006.  It was one of the most dismal tales of hardship I had ever read, but the style was humorous.  Eureka!  I could write an ‘African story’ that did not necessarily taste bitter!
In December 2006, I was finally ready to write my first novel.  I started clicking away in January 2007.  By the end of February 2007, I Do Not Come to You By Chance was born.

: In tackling the 419 spectre in your first novel, have you felt a need to explain your country to itself? Or to the world - like an Achebe putting a human face on a demonised country? Have you feared the possibility of entrenching the stereotypes of association?
ATN: I didn’t feel the need to do anything apart from tell a story the way I knew it to be—things I had observed in a world I lived in.  I wasn’t worried about those Westerners who think everything Nigerian is 419; I wasn’t worried about those Nigerians who are obsessed with changing the impressions of the West.  I wasn’t too worried about stereotypes, either.  Just like the lady crying because people are calling her fat.  Is she crying because she is fat or because people are calling her fat?  If we are so bothered about the way we are or the way the world perceives us, the first step is to change. 

: Your title, 'I Do Not Come to You by Chance' sounds like a droll, found object. How did it end up on the cover of your book?
ATN:  My 'droll' title was inspired by two quotes:

"It is not enough to be the possessor of genius—the time and the man must conjoin. An Alexander the Great, born into an age of profound peace, might scarce have troubled the world.  A Newton, grown up in a thieves' den, might have devised little but a new and ingenious picklock."
--John Cleveland Cotton,
Diversions of Historical Thought


“I returned, and saw under the sun, that the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, neither yet bread to the wise, nor yet riches to men of understanding, nor yet favour to men of skill; but time and chance happeneth to them all.”
--Ecclesiastes 9:11 I and my agent, Daniel Lazar, then went through heaps of 419 emails until we came across an opening line that reflected both the ‘time’ and ‘chance’ elements, and the personality of the novel.    

: Here’s a quote from your book:

"Then came my father’s diagnosis. For a poorly paid civil servant to get caught up in an affliction like diabetes was the very height of ambitious misfortune."

Does writing humour come naturally to you, or is this a sheen you have to paint onto your literature, subsequently?

ATN: My sense of humour is my general outlook on life.  I tend to view things from a quirky angle.  I’ve been warned that I need to sound more serious, though.  How else will the world know that I’m a serious African writer dealing with Deep Issues of the Continent?  
For decades, Africans have been blaming the ‘colonial masters’ for things going wrong in our countries.  With my writing career, I’ve decided to apply the same principle.  If I meet people who are offended by my sense of humour, I will blame it on the British.  Really, I have watched too many British comedies in my lifetime.  I just love them.  ‘From Keeping Up Appearances’ and ‘Only Fools and Horses’, to ‘The Catherine Tate Show’ and ‘The Kumars at No. 42’.  On the other hand, if I meet people who love my sense of humour, I will tell them that it is inherited.  Laughter and humour were never lacking in my family, not even in times of deepest crises.  One of my science-inclined brothers actually did a stint of successful stand-up comedy.  There is always lots of cheer and laughter amongst us when I and my siblings get together.  

: The main protagonist in your new novel is male. Your first story for AW, Coming to The UK, also has a male hero. Do you have any special challenge getting into the head of a male character? Did you grow up with male siblings? Have you received any comments from men reading your pages who responded to your depictions? Is it time for Equal Opportunity feminists to picket your fiction? Is there a female protagonist on the cards?
ATN: It turns out that every single piece of fiction I’ve written has been in a male voice!  I didn’t realise that there was anything unusual about that until people made comments about it.  I’m not sure that I have any explanation.  I guess an appointment with good old Sigmund Freud might be quite in order.  But then, I do have three brothers whom I adore and it is possible that I grew up wanting to be like them because they were all so outstanding.  At the same time, I’ve absolutely enjoyed being female and have always received admiration from the men around me. 
It could also be that I try to distance myself as much as possible from the characters in my fiction.  I really dread people reading my work and imagining me in any of my characters.  Whenever I do decide to write about myself, I don’t think there’ll be any need to coat it in fiction.  Recently, I started compiling some personal essays and they just might see the light of publishing someday.
For now, all I have to say to the Equal Opportunities feminists is that I am not Kingsley.  Anybody spoiling for a fight should dig it out directly with Kingsley, whose thoughts and feelings were expressed in my novel. 
A female protagonist?  Hmm.  I really do need to make that appointment with Sigmund Freud.

: Are there any Big Issues that will engage your writing? Are there subjects, themes, problems you are particularly passionate about? Would you say you have found your voice? Are you still searching?
ATN: There are issues I’m particularly passionate about and as time goes on, they’ll become clearer to everyone.  For starters, I think it’s time Africans faced the hard fact about the source of our problems—not corruption, not poverty, not HIV, not the white man...but the way our people think.  There are certain mindsets that have kept our societies where they are today, thought patterns that have governed our lives for centuries.  It might be a bit lofty expecting the older generations whose minds are already crystallized, to change.  But we can systematically start deprogramming our young people.  If not, the story of Africa will still be the same in generations to come.
I don’t know that I was ever searching for my voice so I can’t say that I have or have not found it.  I really don't approach writing in an academic way which means I’ll probably never have straightforward answers to these sorts of deep, intellectual questions.   

: Can you give me a couple of examples of these 'thought patterns' or 'mindsets' and the problems they can cause?
ATN:  For starters, our intrinsic culture abhors the rising of another in opposition to us.  Therefore, we tend to believe that the increase of others is detrimental to us and will usually do anything to quell the next person’s progress if it doesn’t appear to benefit us directly. 
Colonialism led to us becoming charges of nations who trained us to depend on them for support and to devote our efforts to the growth of an unseen nation rather than to ours.  The Western world still relates with us as people who need to be looked after and that situation perfectly agrees with us because it absolves us of the responsibility for others.
Our culture also programmes us to deify some people while despising others as mere ants and cockroaches.  This is one origin of the absolute disregard for the common man (ahem...woman) which manifests in different forms in our societies.

: What was the attitude of your parents when you began to show an 'unhealthy' interest in writing? How close have you come to their original aspirations for their daughter? To your own? What do they think of your writing? Do you ever cross out a line because you think of your mother reading it? – Or perhaps, down the line, your children?

ATN: Unhealthy interest in writing?  Haha.  Growing up in my parents’ house, woe betide you if my father ever caught any of us reading a novel without our Michael West dictionary right beside us, to check the meanings of new words.  Such a diligent father was very unlikely to have considered writing unhealthy.     
My parents had always wanted me to be a lawyer.  All my friends’ parents also wanted them to be lawyers and doctors and architects and engineers.   I wanted to do something different.  Top on my list was to be a CIA or KGB agent.   
After my Psychology degree, my parents wanted me to carry on studying, and would most likely have wanted me to go as far as a PhD or something similar.  But from an early age, I was wise enough to realise that being excellent in academics could very easily lead to a nice, predictable life—a life that could stifle every other talent and innate desire that you might have.  So far, I have resisted all efforts by family and former lecturers to re-imprison me inside the four walls of a school.  So far, my life has been full of diverse occupations that have brought me fulfillment and made the world around me a better place.
Even before I reach out for a glass of water to drink, I usually consider what effects my action might have on the people around me and on posterity.  I didn’t have to write anything and cross it out, though; every unworthy idea was pulverized right inside my brain before making it to my fingers.  But I dreaded my parents reading my novel.  I didn’t want them to interfere with their opinions and corrections and I wasn’t sure if they would think it good enough.  When they eventually read the galleys, my father was full of praises, my mother rang me early in the morning to tell me how much she loved it, and then asked, ‘But how did you know all those things?’ I guess she meant all those things about 419.  She probably won’t be the only person wondering about that.          

: Are you more Nigerian than Igbo? More African than Nigerian? Do you have pan-africanist sentiments? Do you think the movement has had its day? If you were not Nigerian, what nationality would you be? Why?
ATN: My father is from Umuahia, my mother is from Oguta… that automatically makes me Igbo.  I was born in Enugu, I own one of the internationally renowned green Nigerian passport… that makes me Nigerian.  On the atlas, Nigeria is in Africa… that makes me African.  Apart from that, I primarily see myself as God’s creation.  However, I feel a deep sense of patriotism towards my country, Nigeria, and know that it is my responsibility to make her a much better place.

: How did you choose the '419' phenomenon as subject for your first novel?
ATN: I decided it was finally time to write my novel.  I’d known I was going to write one since 2001.  I’ve always had a fascination with human personality and the science of why people do the things they do, and I wanted that to be the framework of my story.  One thing led to the other and the 419 thing appeared to be just right. 
While hanging around the Western World, I had noticed that each time Nigeria was mentioned, the topic of 419 would usually arise.  It might have been annoying if it was not quite amusing.  Especially considering that the 419ers whom the Westerners hold in such awe, are people whom we in Nigeria (mainly Igbo land) mingle with every day.  They are our friends and acquaintances and the people we love.  Undoubtedly, 419 is a Nigerian shame, but it is also part of our history.  I wanted my story to shed some light on this phenomenon.  I didn’t realise that I had chosen a potentially fascinating subject until I met my agent.  He guided me on how to do justice to the subject.    
Now I’m so glad I wrote about it because for more than two decades, the “phenomenon” has been a major characteristic of Nigeria, yet it hardly features in our literature.  I imagine what would have happened is that, some white man from, say, Nebraska or Louisiana, would have jumped out of the hedges one day with a novel about Nigerian 419.  The novel would have become an international bestseller, and then, suddenly, every Nigerian writer would have become aggrieved about someone else telling what should have been our own story.  All the anger would have led to an avalanche of 419-themed stories—from the Nigerian point of view. 

: Is it the case that 419 practitioners seem to lend themselves to humourous caricature. I am thinking for instance of the scene in the book where Boniface the 419 kingpin holds court in his bathroom with his fully dressed lieutenants while he is himself sitting naked on a toilet bowl.
ATN: The nouveau rich generally lend themselves to humorous caricature.  It appears that the advent of sudden cash does a certain something to the human brain.           
The inspiration for my major characters was not difficult.  Alas, there are several Cash Daddys riding around the streets of Nigeria.  They come in various shapes and sizes—from megalomaniac CEOs and government officials to philanthropists and politicians, who believe that they are above whatever laws exist.  There are several Kingsleys and Paulinuses as well.  The Augustinas are a bit rare.  

: Do you look forward to being able to do nothing but write, or will you prefer to be plugged into life via some other interface besides literature?
ATN:  For me, writing is simply a means to an end.  There’s soooo much else to do.  I don’t think I ever want to come to the point where all I’m doing is just writing.  Unless, maybe, it’s just for a period.

: What are these other interests - if they aren't still confidential!
ATN: Haha.  Let me just say that my other interests will become very obvious to everyone as time goes on. 

: This is another quote from your novel, I Do Not Come to You by Chance. 

"Two days ago, it was the allegation that one of the prominent senators had falsified his educational qualifications. He had lived in Canada for many years, quite all right, but the University of Toronto had no record of his attendance."

It is supposed to be a fictional report on the 7pm newscast at Kingsleys' home. But it is not fiction, is it? This actually happened in the Nigerian House of Assembly. Have you found - in writing this book - that fact can be more unbelievable than fiction?
ATN:  The only things fictional about my novel are the characters and the plot.  Since the Nigerian setting itself is real, naturally, there is actual history in the background.  But yes, many things that happen in Nigeria are so unbelievable that they could very easily be misconstrued as fiction.  Recently, I heard about a house that caught fire in Aba.  Because the Fire Service arrived after the house had been completely razed by the fire, an angry mob made their way to the fire station and burnt the fire station down!  That is the sort of thing that happens only on the pages of novels or in soap operas, but in Nigeria, those sorts of incidents happen every day.   

: Nigerians sometimes approach everything with inflamed ethnic nerves. In your novel, you treat your character's ethnicities (and yours as well) with comic irreverence.
'Cash Daddy had the unmistakable thick head and chunky features of the Igbos. Plus, a concrete Igbo accent. It did not matter whether it was a three- letter word or a five- letter word, each came out with its original number of syllables quadrupled, and with so much emphasis on the consonants that it sounded as if he were banging on them with a sledgehammer'

“What essatly do you not understand? She has told you her mind and it’s your business whether you assept it or not.” This tattling termagant, like many of her compatriots from Edo in the Mid- West region of Nigeria, had a mother tongue– induced speech deficiency that prevented her from putting the required velar emphasis on her X sounds. They always came out sounding like an S. I ignored the idiot. 

Are you worried about its reception in some quarters? Do you think that Nigerians need to laugh more at themselves?
ATN:  I didn’t treat my characters’ ethnicities with comic irreverence.  I was simply being descriptive.  Do the Edo people have an S speech deficiency?  Yes.  Do the Igbos sledgehammer their consonants?  Yes.  Case closed.  Besides, having an Igbo accent or a speech deficiency is certainly not a crime.   
Nigerians do laugh at themselves a lot, though, never mind that it hardly appears that way in our literature.  Maybe we're afraid that the foreign aid and grants will stop coming if the world catches us laughing.  

: There is probably an inverse relationship between the popularity of your novel and the pool of potential victims who might be taken in by 419 scams.You must have done some intensive research into the 419 phenomenon. Is it waxing or waning? What is the future, do you think?
ATN:  Asking about the future of 419 is like asking about the future of the iPod.  The scams have been metamorphosing along with the times; you never know what else they might come up with tomorrow.  You would imagine that by now, everybody in the world has heard about 419 and is wary, but no.  I met a white American man who had come to Nigeria for the first time in October 2008 for a one-week consultancy assignment.  He had never heard the term 419 ever before!  Plus, new mugus are born every minute and the 419 industry thrives on the availability of mugus.      
: Have you started your next novel? Is the subject still secret? What sort of material do you write most naturally?
ATN:  Eureka!  You’ve just provided me with the perfect answer to those who keep asking about my next novel.  Yes, the subject is still a secret!
Interestingly, non-fiction comes most naturally to me.  I consider it my forte.  Apart from stories I wrote as a child, it wasn’t until 2005 that I turned my attention to fiction.  That Coming to the UK piece was my first proper short story.  I wrote it in April/May 2005.
: Are you a compulsive writer?
ATN:  Apart from loads and loads of emails, I don’t normally ‘write’ every day unless I have a major writing project so I’m certainly not a “compulsive writer”.  When working on I Do Not Come to You By Chance, for example, I wrote almost all the time.  And with the horrific state of power supply in Nigeria, I often woke up hoping that there would be electricity for long enough to get some serious writing done that day.  The laptop on which I wrote my first draft had a battery life of only 20 minutes (It’s a long story; I got it for £100 in 2004).  The laptop on which I edited my manuscript had a battery life of two and half hours.  So whenever these ran out, I had to pack my inspiration into a cooler and wait—either for the power authority to ‘bring back the light,’ or for the standby generator to come on.  Good thing that I usually do most of my writing in my head and just spit it out through my fingers whenever the time is convenient.
: Your characters call themselves by the most outlandish names: Cash Daddy, World Bank,
ATN: At the peak of the 419 era in the nineties, almost every 419er took on an outlandish nickname as soon as he hit it big.  Their nicknames usually reflected their perceptions of their skills or their wealth.  But the 419ers of these days go by more civilized nicknames, like CEO, Chairman, Director, etc.  For some reason, their christened names suddenly become inadequate once the dollars start rolling in.
: There is a cultural parallel, isn't there? Traditionally, chiefs lose their own given names as well, moving - for instance - from 'Emeka' to 'The Moon that Shines for the Town'.
ATN: Thou art right!  In fact, there is a cultural parallel in other aspects of the 419 lifestyle.  Like the otimkpu, the group of men who follow them around heralding their masters’ presence and making sure that they are well noticed.  The otimkpu can be likened to the praise singers of our culture who offer the same services to dignitaries, even composing songs for them or slotting their names into already existing songs.
: You live in Abuja, and still travel through many of the towns and cities you write about. Did you ever have a flutter in the gut about writing an expose this candid?
ATN: There was no need for me to have a flutter in the gut.  Every honest Nigerian who reads the pages of my book will instantly recognise our society AS IT IS.  Once in a while, though, I did wonder about the Nigerians in the Diaspora.  Many of them seem so obsessed with our country’s foreign image, almost to the point of neurosis.  However, the lust for a pristine foreign image should not prevent us from telling the truth about our society.  I’d rather we spent all that energy tending to the decay inside. 

Most of the scenes in my story are fictitious, but some mirror actual events.  For example, I have watched friends torn between the choice of a struggling man whom they love and a ready-made man who will wipe away their economic sorrows.  For example, I have listened to 419ers having loud conversations with ‘foreign partners’, not bothering that anyone might be eavesdropping.  For example, my mother’s sister lost a friend and the proper use of her legs after their car was swept off the road by a state governor’s convoy.  It was that governor’s third ghastly crash.  He blamed it on his enemies’ juju.       

: One of the themes you explore in your novel is the transition from '419 kingpin' to 'political bigwig'. Is this a viable prospect in real life? Is the 'industry' a factor in Nigeria's political life?
ATN: The smarter 419ers are always looking for ways to “clean out” their money.  Many of them eventually metamorphose into business magnates, philanthropists, politicians...  After reading a copy of my book, a friend who’s a top official in the Nigerian ministry of justice, confessed to me that his first job offer, right after graduating from university in the 80s, was as a letter-writer for a 419 kingpin. That kingpin who employed him is now doing a third term in the Nigerian House of Representatives.
The Nigerian government is fraught with different brands of thieves, anyway, so there’s certainly nothing odd about a 419er running for public office.  And unfortunately, in our slightly modified version of democracy, whoever dispenses the most cash into the right hands wins the ballot.  

: You touched the tension between the two Nigerians in your book. Poor Andrew:

He convulsed through his pockets again. Still, no passport. “It’s gone!” he announced three times. “I had it in this pocket,” he cried two times. “I’m quite certain of that.”
“You’d better go and report it immediately,” I advised. If not, a desperate immigrant could be out of the country with that passport on the next flight to the U.S.
Suddenly, his patriotism changed color. “This country is unbelievable! I haven’t even come in yet and they’ve already stolen my passport!”
His American accent had also vamoosed.
“Someone probably saw you putting it back in your pocket,” I said.
“I just don’t believe this! I’ve been looking forward to coming back home after all these years. I haven’t even been here up to an hour already, and now this!”

As love-hate relationships go, would you say that Nigerians at home look more indulgently at '419ners' than the Diasporans - who may experience more regularly the sharp edge of the stereotyping?
ATN: Oops!  I’d better watch my tongue.  You’re one of the Diasporans, aren’t you?
: Be my guest!
ATN: Andrew in my story is a typical example of many Nigerians in the Diaspora who are so full of looooove for Nigeria when they are away, but when they visit “home” and things start going awry, their love quickly changes colour.  The best place to see them in action is at the airport, especially around Christmas.  If there’s one place where things are bound to go wrong in Nigeria, it is at our airports.  And the Diasporeans are always the first and LOUDEST to start scolding and groaning on about “This country!”.   
With the Nigerians “at home” and those in the Diaspora, it’s simply a case of the Igbo proverb which says: it is the well-fed spirit that spoils the song for those who haven’t eaten.  The two groups face different sets of challenges; hence, their focuses and concerns are different.  Nigerians at home may look more indulgently at 419ers.  At the same time, they may not look as indulgently on a man in the Diaspora will abandon his fiancé in Nigeria to marry a white woman—for the sake of a British or American or German passport.
: One of the 419 scams in your novel concerns a Nigerian cosmonaut who went to space on a secret Nigerian/USSR space shuttle. The USSR was dissolved and the Nigerian was stranded in space because his fellow Russians decided to cargo precious spare parts back to earth in his place. The Nigerian cosmonaut's salary has been run for years, is now US$35 million and a mark was required to liberate it...

Is this a real life scam? From the inventiveness of some of the scams floating about cyberspace, do you get the impression that some of Nigeria's best writers of fiction are currently in another profession?
ATN:  All the scams in my book are “real“!
Nigeria’s best writers of fiction are definitely doing everything else except writing.  Who can blame them when they are so busy looking for what to put inside their stomachs?  As William Shakespeare famously said, “I’m not writing any f******* romance until I get some jollof rice!”  Mrs. Shakespeare quickly obliged (in less than an hour), and as a result, Romeo and Juliet was born!  
Truly, the best of Nigerian writing is yet to emerge.  Right now in Nigeria, literature is perceived as being in the realm of academics, as if you have to have been an excellent student (and maybe bagged a degree or three) to be able to write a novel.  Can you imagine what will happen when Nigerians finally realise that many more of us can write? Whether or not you’ve been to university or even to school; whether or not you are good at exams or can recite poetry or remember the full list of Euripides’ plays.  When they realise that you can do it however and whenever you want.  You can take four months, you can take four years, you can give up everything for it, you can do it on the side.  The marketability of the final finished work is all that counts.  Can you imagine the diversity of writing styles (not just stories) that will emerge from Nigeria?  Believe me, the best is yet to come.  And the next ten years are definitely a period to watch.        

: If you were ever going to start or join a crusade in future against any social ills, what would they be?
ATN: I wonder.  Right now, I’m more concerned about influencing young people, especially in my country and in Africa, to think differently.  We must not continue with the same thought patterns that have kept our continent so far behind the rest of humanity in many ways.  Preserving and projecting our cultures is wonderful, but a deeper form of love for our people and for the places we come from, is demanding change when it will move us forward.   
: I see you compose directly to wordprocessor. I once lost a hundred pages of a novel to a dead computer - couldn't write for months afterwards. I hope you don't have any comparable horror stories on writing and new-fangled technology?
ATN: Thankfully, apart from one or two vanished emails, I haven't had any major technological disasters. 
: And so may it remain, Adaobi. All the best with I Do Not Come to You by Chance, and thank you for speaking with us.

ATN: My pleasure. 

Copyright © African Writing Ltd & respective copyright owners. Enquiries to