In an exclusive interview conducted by Eze Uwaezuoke, with Ms. Vanessa Onyema, a young novelist, digital illustrator, cum women right advocate.
- To be trapped in an imaginary fantasy world, a book of happily ever after, but sometimes I just need that nerve jerking brutal truth in black and white that reminds me that such problems are
- Many men in this clime do not think that their wives should be their equals. Do you see this as part of the fear that women entertain about marriage?
Ms. Vanessa Onyema, it's indeed my pleasure having you on zeeny360.com's Face of Elegance, where we meet a face behind elegant acts.
The pleasure is all mine. Thanks for having me.
Can you tell us, who really is Ms. Vanessa Onyema?
I'm a woman who is focused. She has a set of goals before her and she believes in a world where people can actually be who they want to be, without fear, without doubts and be prepared to go the extra mile to be achievers on their own terms.
That is interesting!
Can you tell us where you are from, what are the things you have been doing that fit into your personality?
I am from Amavo in Osisioma Ngwa Local Government Area, Abia State.
I am natural when it comes to talent. I get intrigued by a work of art, whatever it may be: music, a painting, a book, a poem and I want to be able to give people that same feeling I get when I come across something unique. That was how I discovered that I was someone that didn't just fit into stereotypes. I tick all boxes, good ones though.
You must be a multi talented person. You mentioned poem, painting, and book. What have you done in these areas, significantly, that we should know about?
I write poems, but most times I do them for me, especially when it leans towards a pressing issue. I do digital painting which I usually upload on Instagram, I have an art page for that and I just published a book which I am really excited about.
Wow! You have already written a book. What's the title of this book?
The title of the book is Lame Red (Sentiments). It is a series; I intend to have at least five of them. So Lame Red (Sentiments) is the first installment.
Lame Red Sentiments. What a name. Before we go into the name, can you please tell us the synopsis of Lame Red Sentiments?
I will just state that briefly to avoid unveiling too many spoilers.
It is a bitter sweet tale about four friends in their 30s. They are professionals and successful in their respective fields. Ego is a writer, runs a successful column on a popular go to site in the country. Simi is a beauty entrepreneur. Tamuno is a Doctor, her specialty is Neurology and Mandy is a Lawyer.
They are great in what they do, really great but life tends to happen. Life tends to make them question if they are on the right track, if they are making the best decision, if they are really happy, if they will always make mistakes and pay dearly for it.
So the reader gets to see them crash and burn, get back up and kick ass. And above all, I will also use the book to create awareness in areas of concern, health, politics etc.
This sounds quite interesting. And you sure have awakened an appetite.
Well, that's the plan.
Under what genre will you classify Lame Red Sentiments?
It is a satire. It can also be an Urban Fiction. But it’s mostly satirical. A lot of dialogues in the book were really funny.
What inspired you to write this book?
Honestly, life did. I really wanted to pick up a book and read about how brutal life can be sometimes - a book that talks about real life issues that is not a self help book.
It is good to be trapped in an imaginary fantasy world, a book of happily ever after, but sometimes I just need that nerve jerking brutal truth in black and white that reminds me that such problems are valid. Also, it is a book that focuses on putting a dent to some societal norms that are absurd, especially to women.
Oh. I see. Talking about experiences, what such experiences would stoke the fancies of readers? Do we have shocking revelations in the book that mirrors life experiences?
If I go deeper, I might have to summarize the book but they should expect the ugly truth and whoever that has had such experiences, I believe it will help shine a light in their situation, come to terms with it and never allow it to stop them from achieving whatever they want to achieve.
Speaking of dents on some societal norms, you made particular reference to women. What's your position on women rights and inclusions in this clime?
I am pro gender equality. I know that women's rights won't be given on a platter of gold until a lot of people are able to speak up and shun some practices. I know people will say no one is stopping women from achieving what they want but we all know that's not true. I also think that people should advocate for it because on the bright side, we need each other, male or female. We need ourselves to create balance in the world.
Interesting. By pro gender equality, are you saying you are a feminist?
Yes I am.
Alright. Speaking of which, what rights do you want to see the females having in this clime, and how can these come about?
If I was a genie or a magician, I will definitely effect the first change to be a world where women conquer in more fields without fear of becoming too successful and less qualified for marriage.
Marriage? How does attaining rights as a feminist create such fears?
It definitely does. In our society, a lot of women aspire to marriage. They believe that automatically their biological clock is ready to detonate, so they work towards that and nothing else. I believe marriage is great, but will be greater, more fun, and more easygoing if there are two heads taking care of the family and not just one.
The concept of feminism in marriage is a facet that continues to generate much apprehension. Many men in this clime do not think that their wives should be their equals. Do you see this as part of the fear that women entertain about marriage?
I will speak for myself in this context. If my partner can't see me as an equal, then I can never be in a relationship with him. I don't see the reason why two people that love themselves take marriage like a tug of war, or like an establishment. It should be about the two of you, because if you do it on your own terms, you will definitely enjoy it and not the outside world or the society that has thrown in a blind set of rules.
Really. I guess your position mirrors the sentiments of many women out there.
Is Lame Red Sentiments going to proffer solutions, especially on the fears entertained by the women folks?
It might not give the direct answer yet because this is just the first installment but it will hit the nail, eventually.
That's something for the women to look out for.
Before we talk of how to get this book, let's peer a bit more into Ms. Vanessa. When you aren't writing, working on arts, what keeps you relaxed away from work?
Movies. I love watching series, especially those that are from great people like Shonda Rhimes, some shows on HBO, Netflix. I also enjoy watching the BBC series, Sherlock. It helps open up my mind.
I am also a reader, books, articles, anything that interests me.
Interesting. The mention of Sherlock Holmes as one of your favorites should classify you as one with interest in detectives.
Yes definitely. Nancy Drew was my first ever book. I read it when I was seven years old and I loved anything that has to do with trying to figure out what happens before the crime is solved.
By now, people would be wondering, how and where do they get this fresh from the oven work. How Lame Red Sentiments be purchased?
It is currently available on Amazon (linked). And by September, I will have a book launch and make it available to those that wish to purchase it within Nigeria.
By the way, like I pointed out from the beginning that I'd ask, why did you choose Lame Red Sentiments as a fitting title for this book?
The story was supposed to be centered on love and sometimes love can be Lame. But as I progressed, I felt it needed something more so I used a color that mostly represented love which is red and then it was formed Lame Red.
Love could mean many things and at the end of the day, everyone needs something or somebody to love.
Wow! "Everyone needs something or somebody to love." So, someone, somewhere can be assured that Ms. Vanessa falls this "everyone". Right?!
Lastly, we'd leave you with this question that's a sort of a dilemma: If your mum and your husband were to cross a critical border and there's just a copy of Lame Red available as the only acceptable passport, and with no time available for a second copy, who would you hand over the only available copy to and why?
My mom. She deserves the best thing I can ever give to her. My husband should understand.
Lol... We appreciate your time Ms. Vanessa. We look forward to your book launch and a possible review of Lame Red Sentiments.
Thank you very much.
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