Five Minutes with Chino Odimba....

Thursday, 27 June 2013
Dele Meiji Fatunla

Chino Odimba, Writer, appearing at Africa Writes 2013, Saturday, July 6th

Why do you write?
Because I dreamt it:

The deepest truths can be found In our dreams,
So can a great deal of debris
Floating from the ego.

Do you have any pre-writing rituals?
This is the censored version. I have to be absolutely cold sober to write. No glass of wine or tipple of gin for me. Which is a shame as I have a high regard for gin.  Usually the routine involves making tea, staring at a wall or inanimate object for an uncomfortable length of time, and taking my bra off!

Where do you write and why there? 
My favourite place to write is from my bed. With the blinds closed. It feels good to be doing something so private in my private space [boudoir] makes sense. Otherwise I find the London underground surprisingly good for writing in my notebook.

What advice do you have other writers who are just starting out?
Some days, no matter what you do, you just won’t be able to get those words/ideas out of your head and onto paper. Trust those days. Go eat cake and talk nonsense for a few hours. You’ll soon get bored of cake.

Who are your favourite writers?
No!!!!!! Not that question! Ask me something else. *awkward silence* I know I’m inspired everyday by all of these writers for the truth they have told or continue to tell … Chinua Achebe (Rest in Peace), Alice Walker, Christopher Okigbo, Angela Carter, Anton Chekhov, Shelagh Delaney, Debbie Tucker-Green, Joe Orton, Caryl Churchill, Warsan Shire, Ben Okri, Grace Nichols, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie…by no means the end of that list

What’s on your secret reading list?
I am addicted to fashion magazines…sssshhhhh!!!

What books have you left unfinished?
A very battered copy of ‘The Guinea Pigs’ by Ludvik Vaculik  - will I ever finish it?

What’s the most confusing book you’ve ever read?
See above. Oh that might explain it!

What’s your favourite opening line or quote in African Literature?
“When suffering knocks at your door and you say there is no seat for him, he tells you not to worry because he has brought his own stool.” – ‘Arrow of God’ by Chinua Achebe

Have you ever lied?
Me?…Never!!  * another awkward silence*

What personal trait do you most deplore in others?
Emotional game playing. I. Just. Can’t. Stand. It.

What’s your greatest fear?
As a parent my biggest fears are about my daughter. I fear for her everyday. The world we live in is not constructed to give young women a good sense of their own beauty and power. But with fear you have choices – let it beat you into apathy and victim mentality or use it to inspire you. In my home we try to use our fears as a way to grow.

What’s the most sublime experience you’ve ever had?
Last week’s massage with lavender oil. Sublime.

What’s your greatest regret?
I am not a big believer in regrets but re-discovering writing poetry again reminds me that I should have stuck it out through the ‘crap teenage poetry’ years. I could have learnt something.

Which living person do you most despise?
Any man that thinks it’s vaguely acceptable to exploit or abuse girls and women.

Which living person do you most admire?
My daughter. She amazes me everyday.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever got?
Whatever you do you will be judged by someone. So get on with your life.

Where/When have you been happiest?
Living in Copenhagen, eating pastries three times a day, growing up and getting to know Danish boys. Enough said.

If you were president of the ‘United States of Africa’ for a day – what would you do?
Find out why Nigeria is so heart-broken, put a female leader in power in all countries/states/governments and throw away all the guns. This is as innocent and idealist as I can possibly be. There is hope in innocence.

Which (6) or more people would be on your fantasy dinner party list – [Dead or Alive]?

Chiwetel Ejiofor – eye candy

Fela Kuti – just to keep things interesting

Oliver Reed – You need one person who knows how to drink

My grandmother – to bring wisdom to the event

Miriam Makeba – grace and intelligence

Salt n Pepa – the anthem of my teenage life

Wangari Maathai – to learn a little of her strength and tenacity

Miles Davis

Diana Ross

Frida Kahlo

Chino Odimba will be at the RAS' Annual Literature festival, Africa Writes at The British Library, July 5th - 7th July.