Monday, September 22, 2014

Author Interview: Amaka Lily: Shifting Allegiances: Main Aspects Of Culture Shocks

Amaka Lily is a Nigerian- American. Born in America and raised in Nigeria, she has lived in Warri, Lagos and Onitsha. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Business and a Masters in Business Administration. She is very fascinated by different cultures and loves meeting people from different heritages.  
In her spare time, she reads, travels and hangs out with friends.
Shifting Allegiances is her first book.

Please share some of the best memories of your childhood.

So, I draw really well. Really, really well. If drawing was lucrative, I would have become an artist. 
One of my favourite memories as a child was when we were asked to draw something for a class project. I must have been about 4 or 5 years old. Anyway, I decided to draw a toothpaste container and I guess I did it very well, because I scored the highest grade for that exercise and my teacher raved to my dad about how good I was. It was at that point that my father realized that I had artistic talent. Soon after, he took me to a store and bought me coloring pens and highlighters to support my gift. Coming from a culture where art was not seen as a viable career and rarely supported, it makes me smile to remember how my dad tried to support me.
But it was never meant to be a “real” career for me, just a hobby.

What career did you plan during your education days? 

It’s funny, I have gone from trying to pursue Medicine, to Media production and ultimately to Business. When I was in Nigeria, I took the Sciences path in Secondary school. This was what people who wanted to be Doctors majored in. So I studied Biology, Chemistry and Physics. But when I came to America, I wanted to do something different. I looked into Radio and TV production, but after talking to a Professor in the field, who was very forthcoming about the financial prospects, decided to study Business.



What languages you can speak and write

English and Nigerian pidgin English

What is your biggest source of inspiration in life?

Myself- I am very self motivated. I set goals for myself and when I do, I usually tell people which also inspires me to reach those goals. I don’t want to be known as a “talker”. I am a doer.
People- People inspire me. Seeing someone pursuing their goals, doing things that I thought was impossible, makes me want to pursue mine
The past- I use my past experiences to motivate me to do better.   

What hurts you most in this world?

Injustice- It affects me in a very deep way. I usually try to fight it as much as I can.
Liars- You just can’t trust them.
Racism- It’s the elephant in the room that no one enjoys talking about but which causes so much pain. It’s only through dialogue that healing can begin.

What is the biggest challenge you have facedHow did you overcome it

You know, life is a series of challenges. When you think you’ve overcome something, something bigger comes up for you to deal with. I have gone through a lot of challenges in my life, which at the time seemed big, only to look back in retrospect and realize they were nothing.
My prayer to God is to deal with all that comes with strength and dignity.

What is your favorite genre and why

I don’t have any. I read everything.

When did you start writingWhat is the purpose of your writing?

I read voraciously as a kid, and around 13, started keeping a journal. After I graduated from secondary school, I started working and I became exposed to a lot of people and experiences that I felt compelled to document. From there, it grew to writing fictional stories.
My purpose is to inform and entertain.  With my book Shifting Allegiances, I felt that there was a disconnect between what Nigerians, and truly many immigrants are told about what to expect from America versus the reality. Watching friends, family members and even myself go through the stages of culture shock, from joyous celebration at arriving in America to depression and disillusionment was something that I felt should be more widely know.
When you know what to expect, you will not be disappointed

Which of your work has been published so far? Would you like to share a synopsis of your work?

This is my first novel. But in college, I wrote for the student’s paper.
Amazon allows viewers to read an excerpt of my work. I will include the link below.

What are your forthcoming writings

Nothing planned for now. I just released Shifting Allegiances and I’m focused on promoting it.

What are your future plans

To be at peace in my life. To be happy, successful and to have achieved all my goals.   

What four top most things you take care of while writing a book?

For Shifting Allegiances, I wanted to ensure that it captured the main aspects of culture shocks. There are so many types of culture shocks one can experience but I could not fit all of them in the book.
I also tried to ensure that my writing was clear and accessible to everyone. I wanted a grade school kid, all the way to someone in their nineties to be able to read and appreciate this book.  
Lastly, I wanted the book to be impactful. I based it  on real life experiences so that people could relate.  So far, the reaction has been very positive.

How much real life goes into a fiction writing

I think most fiction writing is inspired by real life.

Is high level of imagination important to have for an Author?

Absolutely. From a young age, I daydreamed a lot. I remember my mother telling me a bunch of times to stop daydreaming and prepare for school. I also have a very good memory and remember a lot of things.

Your dream destination on Earth

I want to go to Hawaii. I want to visit more Caribbean and Latin American nations.

Your origin of birth and other countries you have visited/ stayed.  

I was born in the U.S, but I grew up in Nigeria. I have visited Jamaica, Turks and Caicos, St. Lucia and the Dominican Republic.

What best things you liked in these countries around the globe

I am fascinated by diversity, culture and history. I love the fact that by being in America, I have easier access to more countries.

Your favorite time of the day? 

Evening

Your zodiac/ sunsign

Taurus

Your favorite color and why

I don’t have a favorite color, but I find that my closet has a ton of black and white.

What is the last book you finished readingWhat is the current book you are reading

I am currently reading Emergency Sex and other Desperate Measures. The title is very misleading. It is actually a fantastic book written by three UN workers about their humanitarian efforts in Haiti, Somalia and Cambodia and what really goes on behind the scenes in UN work. There is fear, cover-ups, failure, death, fun and more. It is very enlightening.

I wouldn’t have known about this excellent book if not for Goodreads.  

Your favorite book and why

There are too many, but I like Maps by Nuruddin Farrah.

Your favorite movie and why? 

I really enjoyed Captain Phillips. That was the best movie I’ve seen so far. Tom Hanks was amazing and so was Barkhad Abdi .
Your favorite celebrity and why

I don’t have a favorite.

Your favorite food

Anything hot and spicy

What comes to your mind when you think of India? 

A place with so much history and culture. I would really love to visit one day.

Some quickies:
Sun or Moon- Moon
Laughter or Smile-Laughter
Morning or Evening- Evening
Coffee or Tea- Tea
Mountain or Sea- Sea
Long Drive or Short Drive- Long scenic drive, with someone else driving so that I can enjoy the view J
Silence or Conversation- Both have their place. I like to have silence a lot to think. But I also enjoy a good conversation.
Water or Fire- Water
Air or Earth- Both
Mars or Jupiter- Neither
Tulip or Rose- Both
Red or Blue- Both
Left or Right- Both
Glance or Stare- Stare

What three words come to your mind for each –  I don’t know if I’d have three words for each. I’d just share what I have in my mind.
Technology- Wonderful, Connects people, Double edged sword
 Life- Glorious, Filled with ups and downs, Contains Lessons
 God- The Divine
Humanity- Good, Bad, Evil
Terrorism-  Horrible
Racism- Unnecessary in this day and age
Childhood Abuse- Horrible
Love- We need more of this
 Parenting- One of the greatest sacrifices if you do this correctly
 Old age- Wisdom

I am giving away 20 autographed copies of my book, Shifting Allegiances. Enter to win via Goodreads.

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