“I’m Usually Inspired by Everything”— Interview with Agbai Ematerry Chinonso
Kreative Diadem is known for its Annual Creative Writing Contest, demonstrating our commitment to young writers’ literary growth across Africa and beyond. We recently chatted with last year’s flash fiction winner—Agbai Emmaterry. Enjoy!
Agbai writes for fun. That’s the core of her writing. She loves writing without the pressure of commercializing it because she begins to worry and already worries enough about people taking a positive interest in what she writes. She finds herself comfortable writing stories that show the dramatic facets of life. Stories that point out both the good and bad parts of humanity, but in reading – she is a sucker for romance.
Kreative Diadem: Who is Agbai? Tell us briefly about yourself.
Agbai: I am a final year student of law at the University of Ilorin. My only talent has to be writing, so it has all the passion I have to offer. But it’s something I genuinely enjoy, right next to sleeping.
Agbai Ematerry Chinonso
Winner of the 2021 Kreative Diadem Annual Creative Writing Contest (Flash Fiction Category)
KD: When did you first discover your passion for writing, what inspired you?
Agbai: I have no idea what inspired me or when I discovered it. It’s something I’ve always done as far back as I can remember. I have so many uncompleted “books” from my childhood that I decided to write only short stories. I’m usually inspired by everything, from what I eat to things I watch, hear or see.
KD: What challenges do you face as a writer in a developing country like Nigeria? What steps do you take to overcome them?
Agbai: Well, most importantly, it is money. It takes a certain skill and level of writing for a person to make writing their full-time job with a consistent inflow of substantial cash. While this is a similar occurrence worldwide, it is often heightened by the nature of our country. So, the only way to combat it is to work at multiple income streams while developing your craft to be worth more.
KD: Who are some of the literary figures that inspire you/you look up to?
Agbai: I admire multiple writers, but two that come to mind right now (internationally) are Sidney Sheldon and Amy Harmon. Sidney Sheldon is a popular author with various thrillers to his name. While Amy Harmon is also a notable writer in the genre of romance. Their use of words and storylines always has me hooked and envious, making me want to be better.
Tons of African writers are amazing, Chimamanda, Bolu Babalola, Chiemeka Garricks, and more are always able to strike a chord with relatable stories that leave you wanting more.
“I always say I want to write something that provokes emotion, something that could be a topic of conversation amongst people that others recommend. An anthology of such short stories is one goal I would like to achieve.”
KD: In 2021, you won first prize in the flash fiction category of Kreative Diadem’s annual writing contest. How did you feel about winning?
Agbai: Oh, I was quiet for a while. I didn’t even tell anyone. But I was excited and happy and grateful. So, I quietly soaked in the knowledge that I had won, grinning internally. Then when I was satisfied with my private celebration, I eagerly shared it with my loved ones.
KD: Let’s get down to your flash fiction. What was the inspiration behind A MATCHING PAIR? Was there a specific message you intended to pass along to your readers?
Agbai: My inspiration was Twitter. There was a point when paternity tests were trending. With the competition in mind and me looking for a story idea, it just stuck and wouldn’t go away, so I just developed on it. There was no specific message. I just wanted to tell a story of how two bad people deserve each other.
KD: Apart from winning first prize in the flash fiction contest in 2021, what are some of your other achievements? (Awards, nominations, published works, etc.?)
Agbai: There are no published works, works, or any of that. I tend to be shy with my work, so entering the Kreative Diadem competition was quite the step.
KD: What are some of your long-term goals as a writer?
Agbai: I always say I want to write something that provokes emotion and could be a topic of conversation amongst people that others recommend. An anthology of such short stories is one goal I would like to achieve.
KD: Are you currently working on any books now?
Agbai: Not yet.
KD: What advice would you give young writers like yourself, especially in Nigeria?
Agbai: Just keep writing, the financial aspect might not always be encouraging, but once you love writing, it wouldn’t matter. Also, shoot beyond Nigeria as well. The world is your playground.
KD: What do you think about Kreative Diadem?
Agbai: Kreative Diadem is a very helpful and healthy community with contests I look forward to every year. I love how they give all sorts of writers a voice to share their craft on the website.
KD: What’s your writing process like?
Agbai: My writing process is sometimes chaotic, I get an idea from something I hear, read, or even say myself, and it keeps nudging me to write it down. I could ignore it for months because I have no time, but it stays with me, silently judging me until I give in, and the actual writing process is so much fun. The hardest part is building the storyline in my head and also naming the story. I’m terrible with titles.
KD: Any final words?
Agbai: This was an honour that I appreciate. I hope to have more people love the little tales I weave.