Are you looking for how to write a book? Then you are in the right place.
You are welcome to another Konnect Africa interview. How are you doing?
Today’s interview is with an horticulturist who doubles as a passionate writer and author.
He is an Author of literary works in prose who believes that with unity and solidarity, the tropical continent of Africa will truly rise.
We have with us, Mr Minnas Tekeste all the way from Eritrea. In this interview, he discussed about his writing, his inspiration and his words of wisdom for African youths.
The sneak peek he gave into his new release will draw you in, I promise. Read on….
If you weren’t a writer, what else would you be doing?
My only profession would have been a horticulturist or a landscape designer or something else – because Horticultural Science is what I studied in college.
But it sure would have been a drag if it was not to be supplemented by writing. I do find a great sense of refuge in writing and even if it meant for my works to remain unpublished I definitely would still be writing.
Let’s get up, close and personal; Give us a bit of history and ethnicity.
I was born in Ethiopia in 1986 and right after Eritrean independence in 1991, I moved to Eritrea with my family.
Where and what did you study? Did you have to take any additional classes to hone your writing?
As I stated earlier, I studied Horticultural Science at an Agricultural College here in Eritrea and received my bachelor’s degree from the college. Now, I work as an assistant researcher at the National Agricultural Research Institute of Eritrea.
I try squeeze up my time and attention to let a space to write. I haven’t actually taken any writing courses yet, but I’d referred quite a lot writing-skill manuals, which helped a lot. I’m sure I have a lot to learn to improve upon this career and to climb up the ladder.
Did you or your folks ever imagine you would become a writer?
Whenever I read a very interesting book, I’d always wished if I could write and publish a book just as good – I just never thought I would step up and give it a shot and that it would be in the hands of the public. Back in the days, I think I was a very private person. I guess it was quite a surprise for most of the people I know when I came about with a book.
What are your influences as a writer? What influences your writing?
So far, my books are mere products of doing what you love, with the hopes that one day I may evolve into that one who can say all that should be said.
Kindly give a sneak peek into your new book.
The wind was blowing very hard at the Green Island, but Hosanna was too dizzied to feel it. Lying flat on the ground, her eyes very fuzzy and her mind not serving any clear thinking, she could see a hazy vision of the fluttering plastic cover of the sunshade. It looked to her like a mass of white cloud flying back and forth on the top of her and she really couldn’t tell if she was looking at it in her real sane life or if it was just in her mind’s eye. She could feel no more pain and her head was solid numb that she couldn’t clearly remember what happened to her. She had seen it in movies and had once read that when you are dying your whole life flashes back in your mind in quick successions. And now she could see her parents smiling at her, all the fun she spent with her friends in college, cutting the huge cake on her wedding day and toasting her champagne and dancing and everything else started to come to her one after another and she began to think if this could be the end.
And on top of all she could see her lovely daughter’s face right in her eyes. Though, she felt it, in the shape she was, escaping death never seemed possible, she wanted to stay alive more than anything else for her daughter. She couldn’t even imagine what it could do to her to be doomed into orphan-hood at this age.
After what felt like a lifetime she heard a faint sound talking to her and shaking her head. It sounded hoarse when he called her, “Hosanna, Hosanna…” She forced her eyes open and tried to look but she couldn’t. It was all hazy and blurred. She tried to speak, but then her mouth was locked.
He was still talking to her, “…the boat is gonna be here soon… you’re gonna make it…”
She could feel her consciousness fading away and a flicker of thought crossed her mind if this was how the transition from life to death felt like. A moment later everything turned into nothing and her daughter’s face was the last thing that went through her mind before it was all silence…
What were the challenges you encountered whilst writing and publishing the book?
Due to a lot of reasons there are no publishers here in my country, there are only printing presses. I had to shoulder all the burden of letting my work go through censorship (which takes not less than a year), looking out for an affordable printing press (all terribly overpriced), and then the most difficult part – distributing the books to all the bookstores and following up the very slow sales myself. All of that added up and made my journey of book publishing very insecure and quite risky.
Printing and distributing my first book was very demanding to the point where I lost my patience and said, “I’m never gonna do this again” but it was all that I have to do to march forward and work on my second book anyways. And the physical form of my second book “New Tomorrow” will hopefully be out on the market in less than a month.
Do you see yourself as a ‘genre specific’ author?
Both my books are romance, but I wouldn’t jump into specifying myself as a romance genre author. Because I’m sure there are a lot of subjects I need to explore – those types which would do more than just entertain and have reverberations.
Who are your favorite authors and what books have made the most impact on you?
I’ve always been a very big fan of Nicholas Sparks for his beautifully and sometimes tragically set romances. Dan Brown, Sydney Sheldon and Ken Follet – all for their Thrillers and Crimes, though it may sound a bit ironic that I’ve not yet come to reflect their impact on me.
Do you have any mentors? What’s your take on Mentorship?
An avid reader as he is, my father is my only mentor through the whole process of my writing experiences. I feel like one needs an inspiration to look up on to have the courage to begin anything.
Have you ever received a negative review of your book? What did you do about it?
Not very controversial but I sure have received negative reviews of my books. I’m only a beginner and I strongly feel that I’m learning on the way and surely progressing too. And it’s all I can do to be very selective as which negative reviews are constructive ones and not make same mistakes again.
How do you prod yourself to write on those awful days when it just seems so hard?
Writing is not something to push out, it’s something that requires the right state of mind to do. So on those awful moments where it’s hard to write I shut down my computer and stay away from my keyboard for a while and do something totally different. And when I feel like I’m back in the mood, the job goes on. That really does the trick for me.
You are at a Writers Workshop; what do you tell the eager listeners who seek to better their skills?
You can always rise to the endless top, you just got to urge yourself on to go ahead and get your pen started.
What’s the best perk of being a writer?
I feel like I’m holding all the aces that I’m able to scrawl all that I can illustrate inside my head on a paper. I personally think of that as a big privilege.
Do you believe that writers can change the world?
I do believe that. If anything, they can spark off the fire for a whole change.
Where can your books be purchased, online and offline?
It’s available at the Amazon.com and can be found through the following link:
Africa will rise when?
We’ll be able to see the difference when all African countries and their people are able to work on greater unity and solidarity, promote on peace and security of the continent.
And I say that responsibility fall on every African citizen, wherever they are, for this continent to play its rightful and deserved role on the globe. And there’s no right time to put Africa on the top other than NOW!
Inspire an aspiring African writer in one sentence…
You sure will get there –so long as you’re up to take that first stride and get your pen started!
Wow, awesome interview here! Did you notice Minnas was big on getting started and taking the first step?
Have you found your passion? Then, Start now, start where you are.
Start with fear, pain, doubt, hands shaking, voice trembling but start.
Start and don’t stop. Start where you are, with what you have. Just…start
Do you have any questions you would like to ask Minnas? Write them down in the comments and he will be on hand to answer them. Cheers!