Nobel Prize Winning Interview with Nuzo Onoh

Wow! I can’t believe this is my first interview of 2023, I’ve been way too busy reading books and too lazy to go hunting for victims…I mean authors…to pester into taking part in this craziness.  Seeing as there has been such a big break it is time to put out a proper big writer, never have I ever interviewed somebody with so many books under their belt, looking on Goodreads there have been more books than I can count.  Today I am interviewing the pioneer of African Horror writing Nuzo Onoh.  So far I have read just the one of her books, A Dance for the Dead, a cracking good book, plenty of chills and wonderful insight into a culture I know nothing about.

Q1: Tell us a bit about yourself and how you got into writing?

I think just like most horror writers, I started my journey into the genre by reading and watching horror. My mother was a former headteacher and raised her children with books, especially the Ladybird fairytales series and both the brothers Grimm and Hans Anderson fairytales to mention but a few. I think any child that experienced the morbid tales of the brothers Grimm will almost inevitably veer towards the supernatural if they become writers. I also grew up listening to countless Tales by moonlight stories during my early childhood in Old Biafra, now part of Nigeria. Those tales featured predominantly terrifying ghosts, powerful deities and witchdoctors, evil witches and wicked stepmothers, stupendous transmogrifications and clever, cunning animals, as well as a great deal of fantastical magic. I found I was particularly drawn to the ghost stories during those tales by moonlight sessions. So, this created a passion for story-telling in me and as early as eleven or twelve years old, I started dabbling in writing my own stories. It wasn’t until the age of fifteen, when I read Amos Tutuola’s famous ghost-story book, The Palmwine Drinkard, that my love for horror-writing fully blossomed. It was a book that retold all the wondrous fables I’d heard in our Tales-by-Moonlight sessions, and my excitement was so great that I wanted to write my own book with some of the stories he had missed out in his wondrous book. So, it was only natural that once I obtained my Masters degree in Writing and started writing African Horror, my stories would follow the same ghost-stories trajectory. You’ll find that my stories are always in the main about vengeful African ghosts with unfinished business.

Q2:  How many books have you written?  Which one is your favourite?

African Horror Published books – 6 fiction and 1 non-fiction. Unpublished manuscripts or books awaiting publication from publishers – 7. Plus 5 other non-horror books published under undisclosed pseudonym.

My favourite book from my works is Dead Corpse”, which features my favourite character, Zikora.

Looks like Dead Corpse will be the next of your books for me to check out.

Q3:  How have you found the experience of getting your books noticed?  I see you are on Substack, is that place busy yet?

Thankful and humbling. I didn’t think African Horror would connect with others from outside my culture, so the extremely positive response from my diverse readers is something I’m eternally grateful for.

Substack isn’t very busy yet but it will soon get busy once I get back to business. Apart from Twitter, I’m not active on social media. Recently joined Instagram but still to figure out how it works. So, I’m hoping Substack will become my website equivalent soon.

Q4:  How difficult do you find coming up with names for characters?  And which character is your favourite?

Because of the genre I write, African Horror, it is easy to pick names for my characters. I either use African names or name characters based on some personal trait or quirk as is common in some African cultures. So, for instance, you see one of my characters called “Chicken-Legs” which is pretty self-explanatory.

My favourite character is Zikora, the powerful medicine-woman and high-priestess to the Earth Goddess. She featured in my book, Dead Corpse. Ruthless, uncompromising, and unforgiving, Zikora demands your respect if not your love.

Q5:  What is your process for writing? Do you recreate the scenes in your books?

I’m a random writer. I go with the flow of whatever my characters tell me. No plotting exercises. Always a specific music I play in loop for each book. One strategy is to deliberately slow the writing once I come towards the end, because impatience might ruin the ending of a good story. So, writing the final chapter might take me almost the same timeframe it took me to write several chapters. Sometimes, I recreate settings, especially for my stories set in the fictitious evil village, Ukari. Other times, there might be recreated scenes involving a visit to a medicine-man’s shrine for divination. Otherwise, each story is a different and unique work.

Q6:  Are you much of a reader? What is the best book you’ve read recently, and which is the book you first fell in love with?

I used to be a voracious reader, but not anymore these days…life and its psychos happen, alas. But slowly getting back in the rhythm again.

Best book I’ve read recently is To Stir The Heart by Bessie Head and Ngugi Wa Thiong’o

First book I fell in love with is The Palmwine Drinkard by Amos Tutuola

Q7:  Time for some random questions.  If you could have a meal with anybody, dead/alive/undead, who would you pick and what would the meal consist of?

My two daughters

Whatever they desire, prepared and likely burnt by me with love…yeah, I burn even boiled eggs, but my wonderful girls are ok with it.

Q8:  If you could put your name to an award, what would it be an award for and how big a bribe do you need for me to win it?

Nuzo Onoh Wacko-Character Award for creating the craziest characters in fiction. Think Annie Wilkes in Misery or the crazy drug-lord, “Peoples” in the film, Shaft. Basically, crazy characters that brings both chills and laughter by their wacky antics.

You’ve interviewed me now, so I’ll give you the gong without demanding my usual Porn-star Martini cocktail bribe😊

Q9:  If you could go into a book or movie as one of the characters, which would you choose and how would you influence the story?

Black Panther: Wakanda Forever

I’ll be Ramona and ensure I don’t get bumped off by Namor. With my secret supernatural powers, I’ll vanish and arise in glory to fight another day. I REFUSE to die!!!

Q10:  If I was to make a biopic movie of your life, it will be an animated movie, who would you want to voice yourself?  Plus can you lend me £15million for animation software.  

Me, I’ll voice myself and lend you the £15m from my Disney pay-cheque😊

Q11:  What’s next for you?  Any new books on their way?

Two stories coming out in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction and Nightmare Magazine.

Practical task:  I have a gnome gallery on my blog, every victim I interview gets to create a piece of artwork based on Gnomes, can be any medium and you are welcome to name the piece.

Many thanks to Nuzo Onoh for many things, for being my 50th Interviewee on this here blog, for creating a new award and allowing me to be it’s first recipient, for “lending” me £15million and most importantly for introducing me to African Horror, some interesting recommendations shared today. If you are wanting to check out her writing then I can highly recommend her latest book A Dance For The Dead, it’s sure to get you hooked. And if you fancy stalking Nuzo then you can find her on Twitter and Substack.


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