Merry Christmas Konnect Africans!!! If you enjoyed reading about Unyime-Ivy King’s views on Africa, Success and Overcoming failure, you will absolutely enjoy this interview with the author of Burning Hurt and CEO of Heritage Treasure Trove Communications Ltd, a Publishing firm which seeks to provide excellent and affordable service delivery with quality and class to Nigerian authors, and I can assure you that Unyime-Ivy will put her money where her mouth is!!!
It’s the Christmas vacation; relax, read and reflect.
KA: Welcome to Konnect Africa! If Unyime wasn’t a writer, what else would she be doing?
Unyime-Ivy: She would be a teacher, who’d have ended up setting up her own school. I’ve always craved to have an opportunity to impart knowledge through an educational institution. I would have trained to become a teacher. The dream is still there somewhere, who knows? (Laughs)
KA: Let’s get up, close and personal; Give us a bit of history.
Unyime-Ivy: I am a passionate writer/voracious reader, with a strong desire to be a positive agent of change in the society, beginning in my own space, using my own words. I grew up in a home where my parents had a strong love for books and reading, and was influenced greatly by my father, who is an astute writer. I am a mother of 4 fledglings, and married to the love of my life, Ubong King, for the past 11 years.
KA: Your name is unusual; a native name co-joined to an English name; any particular reasons for that?
Unyime-Ivy: My dad gave all four of us English names co-joined with native ones. So my siblings and I hyphenate both names; I did not want to drop any of the names.
KA: Education; Where and what did you study? Did you have to take any additional classes to hone your writing?
Unyime-Ivy: I am a second class upper graduate of English from the Faculty of Arts, University of Uyo, Uyo, Akwa Ibom State, with additional certifications in: Media Enterprises, Advanced Writing and Reporting skills (AWARES 13), from the Lagos Business School of Media and Communication, and Screen Writing from the Royal Arts Academy, Lagos, where I emerged as best Screen Writing Student from my set. These courses further sharpened my skills, and I still avail myself of the rich resources on line to gain more knowledge in my field. I believe that one can never know enough. Learning is lifelong- a continuous process which ends at one’s death.
KA: Do tell us about your publishing firm?
Unyime-Ivy: Heritage Treasure Trove Communications Ltd (HTTCL), is a publisher of literary and commercial fiction, business books, non-fiction and more, often in a choice of formats: hardcover, trade paperback, and eBook. We are positioning ourselves to be a one stop shop for all things print, but we are launching out in phases, due to the capitally intensive nature of the business. I am not in a hurry because I believe that what is worth doing at all is worth doing well. We are also working and researching on how to develop strength in the area of books distribution, as there is a gap in this area. Our trademark is determination, reliability and distinction. I decided to dare to try to fulfil a childhood dream, spurred by my love for books, to set up a publishing firm with my own press. I am not doing this to compete with anyone. I have a deep understanding that I am my own competition. Even if we are in the same business, what I am here to achieve is not the same as the other person’s call. I want to leave an imprint in my generation and I will take time to do this. For instance, I am publishing the West African edition of my own novel, Burning Hurt, first published by AuthorHouse UK. I have manuscripts from intending authors and we will be publishing other people in weeks to come. But I am my own first client. I tell my staff this all the time. I am my first client, so treat me like you would, a client. We have already done some print jobs for a company and I am quite pleased at the outcome. Next year is going to be exciting.
KA: What spurred you to establish one and how challenging is entrepreneurship?
Unyime-Ivy: First, the exorbitant rates and gruelling technicalities it takes to publish one’s book. I have been a firm believer in the Nigerian author and I desire to give as many as God brings my way, an opportunity to not just celebrate their rich gifts but to also showcase their work at affordable costs on a more friendly platform. Publishing books is just the beginning at HTTCL. We know that getting published is really all about selling books, and we’ve made it our business to help our clients sell theirs. There has never been a better time for writers to work with HTTCL. Entrepreneurship is quite challenging because you are taking a risk and there are no guarantees. Even when you are able to raise the needed capital to launch out, be it from a bank, or an angel investor, turning over that capital is another challenge entirely. It takes a lot of determination to venture into entrepreneurship, especially in our society where one needs an extra push to get the facilities that people in other more developed climes have easily.
KA: What do you intend to do differently in Nigeria’s publishing industry?
Unyime-Ivy: Provide excellent and affordable service delivery with quality and class to Nigerian authors. We also intend to help our authors develop innovative and creative ways of distributing their books, hence our taking time to look into this area and consulting widely.
KA: What are your influences as a writer?
Unyime-Ivy: God basically so I write from inspiration, yet I also have a deep seated passion for my country Nigeria, for my people Akwa Ibom and for the issues that prevail in everyday African society. I seek for ways our daily needs can be addressed through leisure reading and how we may become a conscious part of fixing the needs of each and every one.
KA: Kindly give a sneak peek into your novels…
Unyime-Ivy: Burning Hurt is my first published work, but I have several stories in waiting, so to say. Burning Hurt is basically a story which seeks to address the erroneous belief that young people should sow their wild oats, before they decide to settle down with a partner. This is a misconception and I tried to use the story of my book to show that for every action, there is a reaction; when you sow, you reap. Life becomes much easier, if our young ones are guided to sow ‘righteous oats’ instead. The scriptures have it that being young is no excuse for foolishness. It states specifically that we should not allow others to despise us because we are young. In Burning Hate, which is the next book I intend to publish, I am exploring family relationships and intrigues, based on a true story. I intend to also use that novel to show how wrongful belief systems and values can destroy a whole family and subsequently affect the larger society as well.
KA: What challenges do you encounter in the course of publishing?
Unyime-Ivy: For my first novel it was the choice of who to print with, outcome of prints and how to introduce to the market. However with each hurdle there was a way to cross over. This also motivated my starting of the HTTCL press as I intend to help every Nigerian author overcome the challenges of writing and publishing.
KA: Do you see yourself as a ‘genre specific’ author?
Unyime-Ivy: No, I do not.
KA: Who are your favourite authors and what books have made the most impact on you?
Unyime-Ivy: As a young child in the Nursery/primary school, I read nearly all the African Writers series by authors like: Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Buchi Emecheta, Flora Nwapa, Amos Tutuola, Chukwuemeka Ike, Ola Rotimi, Wole Soyinka, Ama Ata Aidoo, and many others, but strongly imprinted on my mind is Mabel Segun’s My Father’s Daughter. I read her as a child and longed to be a writer like her. I also read Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, which spurred me to write my own stories. My parents bought us classics like: Clash of the Titans, Greek Myths and Mythology, Stories Told Round the World, Roots etc. There are quite a lot of books, and these formed my early influences.
KA: Have you ever received a negative review of your book? What did you do about it?
Unyime-Ivy: Yes, I have. I am very open to criticism, especially when I sense your sincere need to help me improve at what I am doing. I understand that no work is ever perfect. We learn daily. My first reaction, when I receive a negative critique of my work, is to stop, and look again. I try to understand the motive of the critic, and the spirit in which the criticism is sent. If the person is spiteful, and unkind, I tune off, perhaps I shouldn’t, but I do. If I sense sincerity, I become very receptive and try to correct the error, if it is possible; If not, it at least helps me understand how to do it better next time.
KA: Is there something new cooking behind the scenes?
Unyime-Ivy: Yes….she smiles… suspense…Burning Hate, a series of booklets ….
KA: How do you prod yourself to write on those awful days when it just seems so hard?
Unyime-Ivy: There are days that one does not feel like writing, but when I focus on the end product, that helps a lot.
KA: So you are facilitating a Writers Workshop; what do you tell the eager listeners who seek to better their skills?
Unyime-Ivy: I would encourage them to continue writing and never stop putting their thoughts on paper. I’d also emphasize the need to read a lot more of good works so they can better their writing skills. We learn to write by writing and reading others who are better at it, than we are. So I’d encourage them along those lines.
KA: What’s the best perk of being a writer?
Unyime-Ivy: Influence….the ability to influence the way people think or perceive things.
KA: Do you believe that writers can change the world? What do you hope to achieve with your works?
Unyime-Ivy: Yes I do. The written media is a strong force for change. One must not underrate it at all. I hope to address prevailing issues that affect the family and community through my writing.
KA: How do you utilize social media to engage your readers?
Unyime-Ivy: I engage all media to showcase my work…I am on twitter @burninghurt on facebook facebook.com/burningnovels, Linkedin, etc.
KA: Where can your books be purchased?
Unyime-Ivy: In Abuja:
Sleek Studos D201, Adetokunbo Ademola Cresent, Wuse 2, after Oti Carpets, opposite Kiss FM
Cassava Republic, Arts and Craft Village, opposite Sheraton.
Terra Kulture on Tamiyu Savage str, near DSTV
Excel Scholars Ltd, House 33, 51 rd, Festac town
EF Charis Ventures, 1st floor, Irish Plaza, Signboard bus stop, Addo road, Ajah
His Heavenly Bliss Supermarket on Badore road, Ajah
Patabah Book stores, Shoprite, Surulere
In Uyo, Akwa Ibom State:
Wordworks Bookshop on Oron road Junction
Boldoz Resources on Udotungubo street
Jesus House Bookshop at Ewet Housing estate
Burning Hurt is also available online on amazon.com, Barnes&Nobles, e-bay, and lots of other online sites. We will expand our reach as soon as we have the West African edition on ground. This will be presented in January on my birthday. We will unveil plans shortly.
KA: Life for Unyime is…
Unyime-Ivy: A beautiful and exciting adventure. I am growing at God’s pace and uncovering my innate abilities each passing day. I am no longer where I started, but I also can’t say I have reached my destination yet; the journey thus far has been God all the way.
KA: Family is…
Unyime-Ivy: Everything. A foundation stone, building block and a place of cover. I am grateful for family.
KA: Inspire a young African person in one sentence…
Unyime-Ivy: Keep moving, do not stop. You have all it takes to become all you’ve been created for. Look past yesterday and reach into tomorrow…today you have the power to conquer the future.