Epaphras Chukwuenweniwe Osondu simply known as EC Osondu is a Nigerian writer, now resident in the United States of America. He is known for his short stories. His story Waiting won the 2009 Caine Prize for Africa writing. He had previously won the Allen and Nivelle Galso Prize for fiction. His story, A Letter From Home, made the top ten stories in the internet in 2006. His first short story collection is entitled Voice of America. Today he has a novel, This House is Not For Sale. A former fellow at the Syracuse University in Creative Writing, he is at the moment a Professor of Literature at Providence College, Rhode Island, U. S. A. He told Edozie Udeze in this interaction how short story writing has become a way of life for him and lots more.
How do you write?
How do I write? Oh, I write first by hand and then I type into my computer. That is the safest way for me. Sometimes too I write by hand and leave it there. Every morning I take a walk, a long walk early in the morning within my area of residence. And when I come back, both my body, my mind and my brain are so agile that I have one or two ideas to put down. This condition also propels me to want to write.
And also when I write, I use a pen and when I am done with it, I can make it into a bigger story. I hope that is what you mean by how do you write? When I finally feed it into the computer, it is assumed that the greater portion of it is accomplished; the story is made.
At what point did you decide to be a writer?
Em, I think for most people the progression is the same. First, you are a reader; you love reading and you expose yourself to so many books. And then, thereafter, you become a writer. You may become a reader at a very young age. I started reading children books very early before I progressed to adult books. Books like Treasure Island became for me an ideal fantasy for my young mind. When I read Treasure Island, it transported me into the deeper realm of the world. The way the children in the book reacted to situations and all that – those touched me immensely and began to open my mind to other options and possibilities.
It is like you can talk to your mother like an equal. I liked that a lot. And so that pulled me into the world of literature. And the more you read, the more you want to start writing. You cannot write what you do not know.
What genre of literature do you prefer?
You know, I love short stories a lot, they open my eyes to a lot of possibilities. I like reading short stories and knowing what happens in the end and how the writer manages the characters and the plots and the theme. Besides, I love to read poetry, to see how words are contrived in limited space to give meaning to the world.
Poetry has discipline in terms of the usage of language. But then, I love novels, I read novels a lot too. These are forms that transport you into the world of reality and make-believe. Oh, generally, I love books; oh yes, I love books. I love books a lot.
Who are your favourite authors in the world?
Oh, so many, too many. It depends on where I am. At different points in time, the circumstances of the place and who the author is draw me closer to him. There is a book by a Portuguese writer who once won the Nobel Prize for Literature; I love his books. His name is Sharo Nado. I also love Hemingway a lot, both the way he conceives his ideas and then the way he plots the stories to send a lot of messages into the heart of the reader.
I like Hemingway, he is in his own class just the way George Orwell is also a great writer who conceives ideas in forms different from others. Orwell takes me deeper into those realms of fantasies and dreams. If you go through his books, if you take your time to navigate into his world of fantasies, you’ll see how the world can be recreated in most of his works. Such authors move you; they propel your imaginations beyond the limit, beyond human comprehension.
If you met any of your favourite authors what would you ask him or her?
How much did you get from your last book? People think, and most often too, that writers only need to write but shouldn’t think of money. In fact, most times I discover that writers themselves do not seem to be concerned about money. This is not good enough. You need money; you need to gain from your efforts. Why wouldn’t a writer gain from his sweat? So, I will ask him this and let me see how he reacts to it or what he has to tell me.
How do you arrange your library?
My library is not well-arranged. No it is not. There are books pilling up everywhere in the house. From the floor to top. In fact, the ones on the floor are among the books I like to read everyday. These books are pretty around me and I can easily reach out to pick them to read. And then members of my family keep complaining that I want to turn every part of my house to a library. I go to the toilet, there is a book there. Even in my bedroom, there are books all over the place.
So, they always complain; like they’d always say to me, leave these books in your study; oh, leave them there. Keep your books in your study and stop littering this home with books. That’s the way it has always been in my home.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read is a book called Amongst The Women written by an Irish author by name John Mcharry. It is shows how human society is and how it should be run. It is a book that is set in Island, about the man and his children. It shows both how the father was both benevolent and dictatorial in character and in his approach to issues.
What is the next book you intend to read?
Oh sure, it is a book of short stories called Home and Abroad. My next book too, the one I am working on now, is a collection of short stories. After my first novel, This House is Not For Sale, my intention is to write another collection of short stories which will be ready not too far from now.