Kiru Taye is a London-based Nigerian novelist who specializes in romance fiction of all kinds—historical, paranormal, exotic. In this interview, Kiru talks about her beginnings, overcoming writer’s block and her future plans.
Tell us a bit about your background.
I’m the first out of five siblings, born in Nigeria, and lived in Enugu until my late teens when I moved to the UK. I’m married and have 3 young children.
When and why did you begin writing? When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I started writing romance novels in 2010 because I couldn’t find stories about Africans falling in love. Yes, there were stories about African-Americans but there were cultural differences that weren’t reflected in those stories. So I decided to write what I wanted to read.
I considered myself a writer once I had my first completed manuscript.
What books have influenced you the most?
I love books that take my imagination on a journey and when I was a teenager I read so many books that fired my imagination including books by James Clavell, Harold Robbins, James Hadley Chase, Pacesetters novels, etc. You name it and I probably read it. So it’s hard picking any specific books.
Are there any books you’ve given up on reading?
Yes. Several. I’ve got thousands of books to read on my eReader apps as well as in paperback. If a story doesn’t grab me within the first chapter I put it down and move on to another one. Life’s too short.
Pretty Woman because I’ve probably seen it more times than any other movie and it never gets old. More recently I loved Onye Ozi because it was the first Igbo language movie I’d seen in a long time.
Seriously can’t answer this because I love music. Period.
But if you want to know, I’m currently listening to All Saints All Hits Album as I respond to these questions.
Who is your favorite writer and what do find fascinating about their work?
I don’t have one favourite writer as I discover new authors I love everyday.
Are your most ardent readers male or female?
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
I need to work on improving the suspense elements of my stories.
Do you ever get writers block? Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writers block?
I find that reading novels or watching movies helps me with writer’s block. Also taking a break from writing and generally doing things that you love can rejuvenate you and spark your imagination.
What do you think of the Nigerian publishing industry?
Is the creative process for writing romance different from other genres of writing?
I don’t think so. As I don’t write any other genre at the moment, I would assume the creative process would be the same.
Do you think the prevalence of Western Awards has had a negative (if any) impact on the stories African writers tell?
Well, the thing about any award is that it is defined by the people giving it. And there are those who would argue that western readers only want to read certain things about Africa therefore perpetuating the ‘one story’ Africa.
I would disagree with those because as is evident with the people who read my books, the western readers will read different stories about Africa as long as it is presented to them as not so different from the things they like to read.
So my advice to African writers: if you write thrillers, then write great thrillers. If you write horror stories, write great horror stories and horror genre readers will pick them up. This applies to every genre.
I write romance novels, first and foremost. The ethnicity and location of the characters are secondary.
Let’s stop worrying about being African writers and just be writers.
You’ve written 12 books. If you were to read any of your books again, which would it be and why?
Here’s a little know fact. I go back and read my books. I wrote them and I love them so I read them over again. J
Your novels feature strong female characters. Is this your way of fighting against the embedded patriarchal system in society?
LOL. Thank God someone noticed I write strong female characters. I was on the Africa Writes 2015 panel discussing ‘Romance in the Digital Age’ last Saturday where one of the panellists implied that romance novels were full of ‘submissive’ women. She had obviously never read any of my stories.
I write about strong, female characters because unlike what some people might like the world to believe, Africa is full of strong women. I grew up surrounded by strong women: my mother, aunties, and family friends. etc. They made me into a strong woman, so I reflect what I know in my stories.
What are you working on at the moment?
I just started reworking a draft manuscript I wrote back in 2013. The story is titled Black Heart and is a paranormal/fantasy romance set in Northern Nigeria.
Readers can find out more about it by connecting with me on Social Media.