Interview with Olachi Okoroafor – Author of “Amaka in New York”

Interview with the author, Olachi Okoroafor

Book Cover ImageWe’re featuring an interview with the cool and brilliant ten-year old Olachi Okoroafor, who has just published her debut novel, “Amaka in New York”. This is so exciting, as she’s our youngest author ever! Find out more about her and read her thoughts on writing and publishing.

 

Please tell us a bit about yourself, your hobbies and interests.

I am Olachi Okoroafor, the first child out of four children. I am in 5th grade at Escondido Elementary, where I am the secretary of the school’s leadership council. In my free time, I love to write, read, or draw. I am interested in coding and movie production.

How long have you been writing?

I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I used to write short stories and bind them in book form since I was in first grade. But this new one I started working on in 4th grade felt different.

Please tell us a bit about your new book, “Amaka in New York”.

My book is about a young Nigerian girl who recently moved to New York and goes to a new school, where she encounters bullies and mean girls, and wonders if she would ever find a friend.

Is this your first book? What inspired you to write it?

This is my first published book. I was inspired to write about it when I thought of my skin color, and when my school taught us about segregation and people like Martin Luther King.

What was the easiest and hardest part of writing this book?

The easiest part was writing what came to my mind, and the hardest part was describing how Amaka felt, what she saw, what she heard, what she smelled.

How did you come up with the title?

The book started out as “Sarah in New York” when I learned some writing tips and about New York from my 4th-grade teacher. When I began rewriting it, I felt that Nigerians would relate more to a Nigerian name, so I changed it to Amaka, the name of one of my mother’s friends. Also, I felt Amaka, compared to some other Nigerian names, is easy to pronounce for people who are still sounding words in phonics.

How much of the book is based on your experiences?

I haven’t been bullied, but I have siblings who have been bullied or segregated due to their skin color, so part of my writing is my empathy for how they felt. There were also times I have felt like no one was listening to me, and I wrote about how Amaka felt when it seemed her mother was not listening to her.

Are there any similarities between you and Amaka, the main character?

Yes! Amaka and I are both black, both afraid of going to new schools, dislike moving, and both have a mother who is often busy. I remember there were days in the past year when I would see my mother for only a few hours because she was preparing for her Ph.D. defence. I am glad those days are over.

What lesson(s) would you want readers to take away from the book?

I think maybe something like ‘Friendship is powerful’ or ‘Bullying always comes with consequences.’

What were the challenges you encountered in writing and publishing the book?

Well, one of them was waking up early on my precious Saturdays to write. And another one of them was running out of ideas because I didn’t know where my story would take me. I am glad I had a writing coach whom I call “Aunty Tolu” who helped me think when I got stuck.

What inspires you as a writer?

I don’t really know! My mom says I have a good way with words, and sometimes mini-stories just come up in my head. I am moved a lot by things that happen around me, and I want to make wrong things right by rewriting the story of that wrong thing.

What book(s) are you reading now?

I am reading many books now, but my favorite one is ‘The Twins at St. Clares.’

Who are your favourite authors, and what do you admire in their work?

My favorite author is Enid Blyton, and what I admire about her works is even though there are no pictures, she puts enough description for the readers to imagine what’s going on. I feel I am in a different world when I read her books.

What skills have been particularly helpful in your writing?

Learning and using the story arc has been very helpful in teaching me how to plan and outline my work. My mom taught me about using all five senses in writing, and I have been trying to apply that. Also, as I started self-editing, I had to do some research about New York, especially how the place would be in fall and winter.

What are your current projects? Are you working on the next book?

I have no current projects, but I have been looking back at my past writings and seeing if there is anything I can make out of it. For example, I have a story “SuperSarah” with the theme “you do not have to be a superhero to save the day,” which I started in 3rd grade. Maybe during the holidays, I can focus more time on it and see what happens.

Do you have any advice for other young aspiring writers like you?

Yes! Young writers, don’t let anyone stop you from doing what you love doing. If you have an idea, write it down and keep building on the idea.

Where can readers buy the book?

You can get the book from Amazon US, Amazon UK, Smashwords, Apple, Barnes and Noble, and most online retailers. Readers in Nigeria can download the ebook from Okadabooks.

 

Thank you very much Olachi, and we wish you much success in all your endeavours.

Thank you.

 

About the author:

Olachi Okoroafor is ten years old. She loves reading and writing. She lives in California with her mom, dad, and three siblings. Amaka in New York is her first book.

Click here to download sample chapters Amaka in New York – Sample Chapters 

Click here to download the Book Marketing Kit – Amaka in New York

Click here to read the Press Release 

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