Ties that BIND is a ROMANCE thriller written by Staney Umezulike, a nigerian author.
His love for trying out new adventures in WRITING birthed this piece of art. In this interview, he shares more about his inspiration for writing this book. The book is currently on preorder but will be officially released in April, 2021.
He also shares things upcoming writers and authors need to consider to thrive in the Nigerian romance market.
More opportunities are springing up for writers in the romance market and this interview is spiced with lots of insights to help sail the tides.
Let’s get to know you better.
I am Stanley Umezulike. I am a Nigerian writer born in Enugu and raised in Anambra, Nigeria. I write crime fiction, family drama and romance stories set in tropical Africa.
I discovered books at a very young age. The stories I read took me to countries across the world where I learnt about different people and their cultures. Since then, I’d become an avid reader.
I found my passion for writing at the age of 14 and I’ve been writing ever since.
I am a graduate of Political Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and did my Master’s in International Relations at the same University.
I have written eight books (fiction and non-fiction) and published five. I have also written and published many short stories. My next book, Ties That Bind, will be published on April 16th by Love Africa Press, a publishing house based in Epsom, Surrey, United Kingdom.
My writing has appeared in various publications including Daily Sun (Nigeria), Creative Freelance Writerz-Africa, Spillwords and popular online bookstores all over the world.
I am the founder of Prolific Fiction Writers Community where I help fiction writers master the art of storytelling. I have mentored over 5000 writers (directly and indirectly) within the past two years.
I am the co-founder of IfèAdigo, a publishing company based in Nigeria that publishes books in print and digital formats, connects authors with global readers and helps them to attain global dominance.
I have been featured in The Light TV Show, Awka, Nigeria, and have been invited to speak on various online and offline platforms.
In recognition of my work of transforming lives through storytelling and sharing my stories with the world, I was awarded Top 40 International Leading Youth Award 2020, in the best author of the year Male Category, an initiative organized by Make Mee Elegant Foundation to commemorate the 2020 International Youth Day and celebrate youths across the world who have been truly outstanding and impactful in their various fields.
What is the significance of your book’s title, ‘Ties that Bind’?
There are ties that binds each and everyone of us to certain people in our lives. It could be anything. In the case of Ray and Loretta, two of the main characters in my book, it is love. They are bound by the affection they have for each other, a love so strong that it cannot be ignored. I will allow the readers to read the book and find out more about the story and the characters.
What inspired the design of your book’s cover?
The two main characters in the story, Ray Okon and Loretta Olawale, inspired the design of the book’s cover. They are the two lovely people in the front cover. Readers love the cover. Most of them can’t wait for the book to be released so that they can delve into the story and get to know more about the characters.
How was the research for your book done?
As an author of contemporary African fiction set in tropical Africa, I have garnered tremendous experience from reading crime fiction novels, travelling and meeting new people.
I put all of these to good use while writing this novel. Ray Okon is a DSS agent. DSS means Department of State Services. DSS is one of the top intelligence agencies in Nigeria.
Their responsibilities include counter-terrorism, internal security, counter intelligence and surveillance. They also investigate high profile cases and grievous crimes against the State.
In 2016, I worked with DSS agents during my National Youth Service Year at Sokoto, Nigeria. I got to know more about them and how they operate.
All of these helped me in writing this novel.
I have also travelled to Abuja, the main setting of this book. I love the beautiful city. It was easy for me to capture the city in the story.
What got you to write this romance thriller novel and did you ever envisage being a romance author from the onset?
Did I see myself being a romance author from the onset? When I started writing, I never thought I would one day be a romance author.
The first novel I wrote was a political thriller. However, when I started reading romance stories, I fell in love with the genre.
I started learning how to write romance by writing short stories in the genre and asking experienced romance authors to read and give me feedback.
When I started working with Love Africa Press, a publishing house that publishes romance and other genre fiction with strong romantic elements, the authors in LAP encouraged me.
I’m grateful to Love Africa Press and all their amazing authors. When I read their beautiful romance novels, I began to believe that I could do it too.
The experience I’ve gotten from working with Love Africa Press has helped me to reach where I am today in my writing journey and I am grateful for that.
Why I wrote Ties That Bind
I love reading thriller and crime fiction novels. You know those kind of novels that are fast-paced, interesting, filled with car chases, intriguing criminal investigation, lots of action and a little bit of romance.
I enjoy reading American crime fiction/thriller novels. These stories feature FBI, CIA or NYPD agents chasing criminals and solving cases in United States.
However, when I went to the bookstore and searched for such crime fiction novels featuring Nigerian characters and law enforcement agents solving criminal cases, I couldn’t find any. What did I do? I decided to write one.
What’s the most fun and challenging part of writing a romance thriller?
The fun and challenging part of writing a romance thriller is capturing the investigation and the criminal procedures. As a writer, you need to know how they work in your country. The experience I’ve gotten from reading thrillers and working with DSS helped me in writing the story. However, Nigeria is different from United States and the rest of Europe. For example, law enforcement agencies in Nigeria don’t have sophisticated forensic technology and a national database that captures the fingerprints of Nigerian citizens.
CCTV cameras are not available in every street in the country. All of these hinder writers in Nigeria from delving into the genre.
However, as a writer, with your creativity and imagination, you can write any story you want to write and that’s what I did. I enjoyed writing the story and I can’t wait for readers to read it.
Can you share with us something about your book that isn’t in the blurb?
The character Inspiration for Johnson Omata, one of the characters in the story, is popular Nollywood actor, Yul Edochie. Johnson is light-skinned, tall, powerful, wealthy and drop-dead gorgeous. An aura of wealth and authority surrounds him whenever he walks. He is a celebrity millionaire business mogul and philanthropist. He has been featured on Forbes, CNN and celebrity magazines. His unique charisma and sex appeal makes him irresistible to women. I would say his baritone voice is what makes him unique.
Does one of the main characters hold a special place in your heart? If so, why?
Yes, of course.
Ray Okon is a character I enjoyed creating. Ray Okon is a DSS agent. Before he became an agent, he worked for six years in DSS as one of their top analysts. He is well trained, smart and is skillful in connecting dots in criminal cases and detecting what others have missed. Ray holds a special place in my heart. When I first started writing this story, I didn’t have a character like Ray Okon in mind. I used others characters and because of that, the plot then was different and I struggled to write the story. However, once I got the idea for Ray Okon’s character, I rewrote the outline and finished the book within three months. I later discovered that Ray Okon was the missing link the story needed. Once I created his character, I resumed the story and finished it in record time.
How did you get inspirations for creating amazing characters Like Ray Okon in your book?
I got the inspiration from reading crime fiction novels. The most important thing I focus on when I’m reading a crime fiction is the protagonist. I love Alex Cross in the Alex Cross series by James Patterson, Scott Harvath in the Scott Harvatt series by Brad Thor, Dirk Pitt in the NUMA series by Clive Cussler and Mitch Rapp in the Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn. These authors inspired me in my writing journey. For many years, I’ve always had the dream of creating such a unique character. However, I wanted the character to be human and have his strengths and weaknesses. I wanted him to be an agent in one of Nigeria’s intelligence agencies where he would be solving high profile criminal cases. When I got the idea for Ray Okon’s character, I knew the universe had given me the answer I was searching for.
Are you working on anything presently that you would like to share with your readers?
Yes, I’m working on the second book in the Ray Okon series. It’s interesting. I’m enjoying the writing process. I’m sure readers will love the story.
Share a little bit about your publishing journey?
I started writing when I was fourteen. Then, I was writing for fun. I started taking writing serious two years later. I wrote my first book at the age of eighteen. I published it in 2013 at the age of twenty-three. Since then I’ve written eight books and published five. I have published three fiction books and two non-fiction books. The last book I published is Dominate: A Practical Formula to Building A Profitable Writing Career On Social Media. It’s a book that shows writers how to harness the power of Social Media and use it to build a profitable writing career. Ties That Bind will be my 6th published book.
Where do you see the romance market in Nigeria in the coming years and do you believe more romance thrillers should be published in Nigeria?
The romance market in Nigeria has started thriving. Today, we have a new generation of Nigerian authors who are doing well in the genre.
Nigeria now have amazing romance authors such Kiru Taye, Feyi Aina, Amaka Azie, Glory Abah, Unoma Nwankwor, Sally Kenneth Dadzie, Obinna Obioma, Emem Bassey, Rosemary Okafor etc, whose quality works can be accessed by readers all over the world.
These authors are doing well, building their author platform and getting the recognition they deserve. They are also raising new voices who are following in their footsteps.
Today, the reading culture in Nigeria is improving.
More young people now have interest in writing and more readers are seeking for new books written by Nigerian authors. All of these give me hope that this new decade is going to be amazing for the romance market in Nigeria.
I believe more romance thrillers should be published in Nigeria. Right now, we have just few writers who have published books in the genre.
Most Nigerian writers are afraid of writing in this genre. Some of them believe it’s difficult to write stories in the genre. Others believe they can’t do it.
However, I know that when they read stories in the genre such as Ties That Bind, it will inspire them to see what’s possible and know they can do it as well.
What’s the characteristic of a series like yours in the market and what should your readers expect from this thriller series?
I’m excited. Readers should expect to see great stories in the series.
The books will have everything you love about crime thrillers; fast-paced read, intriguing criminal investigation, well developed characters, captivating plots and pulse-pounding entertainment.
Each of the books in the series will have strong romantic elements.
Some of the main characters in the first book, Ties That Bind, will reappear in subsequent books in the series. I’m sure readers will love the series.
What books, quotes, authors and life philosophies inspire your writings? Give us a wrap.
My favourite authors are Sidney Sheldon, David Baldacci, Clive Cussler, Vince Flynn, Harlan Coben, Nora Roberts and James Patterson, among others.
I also love the writings of South African thriller author, Deon Meyer, and books by Nigerian bestselling author, Kiru Taye.
I love Alex Cross series and Women Murder Club series by James Patterson, Kay Scarppetta series by Patricia Cornwell, In-death series by J.D. Robb, Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn, Scott Harvath series by Brad Thor and Will Robie series by David Baldacci.
Reading these books helped me delve into crime fiction writing and understand how the books in the genre are written.
My favourite quote is from Toni Morrison. “If there is a book that you want to read but it hasn’t been written yet, then you must write it.” I love it.
Share some fun things about yourself.
I’m Leo. I love travelling and meeting new people. When I’m not writing or working, I enjoy playing football video games and watching crime thriller TV shows.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors on writing their first romance thriller book?
Read good books in the genre and learn from the best. Read books from other genres too. Don’t be in a rush to write and publish. When you finish working on your first draft, revise it until it becomes better. Then, give it to beta readers to read and offer you feedback. The feedback you will get from these beta readers will help you improve the story. Work with an editor who understands the genre. The editor will help you polish the story and make it shine.
Don’t feel bad when you read books written by great authors and feel your writing is not good enough. Every expert was once an amateur. Practice makes perfect. As you keep learning and remain consistent, you will continue to get better in your writing craft and eventually get to the top.
New authors are usually faced with harsh reviews or writers’ block? How should they deal with it?
Don’t let harsh reviews get to you. Keep writing. Continue to grow and make sure that each new story is better than the last.
When you are faced with writers’ block, stop struggling to write. Go out and take a walk. Take some fresh air and engage in non-writing related activities. Read your favourite books and listen to your favourite songs. You will eventually get your muse back.
Finally, How can readers get your book and connect with you as well?
Readers can preorder Ties That Bind using the link below:
Apple books: http://ow.ly/NyH150Dw5RR
Goodreads TBR: http://ow.ly/8lq050Dw5Ri
Twisted Paperback at loveafricapress:
I live in Awka, Nigeria. I love to hear from readers, so follow or drop me a note on Instagram @stanley_umezulike,
Facebook at Stanley Umezulike
Gmail at email@example.com.
You can also connect with me on my writing community on Facebook group using the link below: https://www.facebook.com/groups/profwic/?ref=share
Thank you for reading this interview.
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