Unyime-Ivy King-Debut Author of Burning Hurt


"I will always write, as long as I am able. I also want to work towards, not just writing more books, but making them into movies as well, because the visual medium is a most powerful one."  

Unyime-Ivy King is a graduate of English from the Federal University of Uyo, Nigeria. She also holds a certificate in screenwriting from the Royal Arts Academy and a certificate in Media Enterprises from the Lagos Business School of Media and Communication. Unyime-Ivy has written and published several articles for magazine and newspapers in Nigeria such as TW Magazine, Daily Times, Security & Safety Magazine, Green Pastures Magazine and Vanguard Media Limited. She is currently the Executive Director Communications/CRS of Protection Plus Services Limited, an international security services company with headquarters in Lagos, Nigeria. Burning Hurt, a universal story of betrayal, neglect, forgiveness, redemption and love, set in the southern part of Nigeria is her debut as a published author.

AG: What was that turning point when you realized you wanted to write and share your views with the world?
UK: I can trace it far back to my childhood days. It was in elementary 5, that I first realize that I could actually share my views with people beyond my immediate environment. I wrote a play, which my French teacher then, happened to see, and he was impressed and wanted to adapt it for a class drama. I was always cooking up all sorts of stories on notepads, writing my own version of Enid Blyton’s ‘Famous Five’ series, only that mine was, ‘Famous Seven’ hahahahaha. In later years, I wrote for some magazines, and the passion for story telling dimmed a bit, but never died. As I saw works by contemporary writers, it ignited the fire once more to share my views with a larger audience as it dawned on me that writing could be a medium through which people’s mindsets are positively influenced, and also an avenue to express myself in ways that I could never do verbally; it motivated me.

AG: What is it about writing that you find fulfilling?
UK: In writing, you can express yourself, and your views in ways which you may probably not be able to, speaking, except maybe, you are a good motivational speaker. I am a bit of an introvert, and I am more comfortable with the written medium. Also, once I can succeed in getting  people to have a paradigm shift because of something I wrote, it makes me  experience a sense of fulfillment.

AG: What’s more important; character or plot?
UK: This question could be likened to the chicken and egg debate-which comes first?  I think it depends on the genre of writing. For a traditional fiction novel like mine for instance, character may be nearly everything, because the story focuses more on the emotional, spiritual, or intellectual growth of the characters and their interpersonal relationships. The plot of the story could spring up a few surprises, as it unfolds, but the readers can identify with the characters and the people around them. However, I believe that a good novel should also have a good plot which keeps its readers interested, and have characters, which are believable in a way which would make the readers want to know how the story will turn out.  I also want to add that in profiling your characters, and fleshing them out, you are able to get the raw materials for the plot of your story. So, for me, characterization is important, while not neglecting the plot.

AG: Let’s talk about your book, “Burning hurt”, what inspired you to write this story?
UK: Burning Hurt was first of all inspired by a true life story of a young man, whose attempts to sow his wild oats by loving and dumping his pregnant girlfriend, caused his life to spiral out of control, when unknown to him, the scorned lover cursed him in anger, after the baby’s death. That, and a family conversation we once had, about this same issue of ‘sowing wild oats’ and how it has landed so many young people in an early grave, made me decide to look at the possible negative effects of a negative decision on the lives of those who make them. I wrote Burning Hurt to explore/address in my own way, this idea of sowing wild oats by young people. I do not believe that youthfulness should be an excuse for irresponsible/rash decisions in life. It is a burning passion to see more young people choose to sow ‘righteous oats’ instead, and make informed decisions about life, because one will always reap what they has sown. Being young should not be an excuse for foolishness. It is all about our choices.

AG: What is the specific audience you were seeking to reach and why?
UK: I wrote Burning Hurt and made it simple enough for people as young as 13, to be able to read, and clearly understand the issues I raised there, and for adults as old as 80, because they are the seed sowers, the custodians of the family and whatever values/principles are to be imparted to the younger generation.

AG: What has the journey been like since you published?
UK: It has been an interesting/challenging one, I must say, because so many things have happened along the way, and are still happening , which has given me a whole new perspective on certain things which I never had before. I am a Christian, and I strongly believe that when God puts a dream in your heart for you to fulfil, you will never see the whole pathway at once, until you step out in obedience, and He unfolds each stage per time. Presently, I have a theme song of the book which can be viewed on you tube, and I can tell you, it was not part of the plan initially. There is a book trailer, which is also available for viewing on you tube as well. I have plans to adapt the book to screen as a movie, later on. Also, because the story addresses some concerns about the female child, I have a hazy idea, which I am still processing, for setting up some sort of scheme whereby some less privileged girls can benefit from, and be able to have some sort of formal or informal education, on a yearly basis. The way I see it, this dream is going to grow way beyond me, because I believe that I am on a mission to impact my world, beginning in my little corner, and become one of the positive change agents of my generation.

AG: How did you go about finding a publisher for your work?
UK: When I was finally able to put my manuscript together, I came across a link on the internet by AuthorHouse, UK. I clicked on the link and got in touch with them. The rest, as they say, is history.

AG: Are the experiences of the characters based on the life of someone you know?
UK: No. They are not.

AG: If you had to write it all over again, would you change anything in “Burning Hurt?”
UK: Yes. I would show more of Verity’s foibles. She is a character in my book that I made to trod by perfectly, without really delving into her inner conflicts and weaknesses- and we all have them. I feel I made her, almost too perfect; but in retrospect, I was too occupied with the message I wanted to pass across, that I made her less complex.

AG: What was the most challenging aspect of writing ‘Burning Hurt?’
UK: Disciplining myself to actually sit down and put pen to paper. I had had the idea for some time, but I needed to sit down and bring it to life.

AG: Let’s look at the world we live in as your book speaks against some ills in the society. What is it about the world right now that breaks your heart?
UK: That departure from the values, norms and principles that made us a people of strong, positive, moral character, and the failing marital/family unit. Such values include: integrity, chastity, hard work, respect, and so on. I am passionate about the family because I strongly believe that strong families, birth a strong nation. Any dysfunction at this level, will birth dysfunction in the society too.

AG: One word that best describes you at this moment of your life?
UK: Budding/unrestrained

AG: Who has been your greatest professional mentor and what is the most important lesson you have learned from him/her?
UK: I do not have one person that I would say is a mentor, as I have been privileged to learn from several greats, either close-up, or by proxy. My dad, Elder Eno Ikpe, is a wonderful writer and in retirement, he is editing several publications in my state; he is one of my best critics. I learn from him a lot. At a point in his working life, he was Hansard editor at the Cross River State House of Assembly. I have also been privileged to work with two wonderful women journalists- Mrs. Adesuwa Onyenokwe of TW magazine, and Mrs. Remi Diagbare, of Vanguard Media Limited, and I learned something from each of them. I learned the invaluable lesson of having to re-write until I got it right.

AG: Thinking back to books you read as a child, what were your favorite and why?
UK: As a child, I read a lot of Enid Blyton’s Famous Five series, Fairy Tales collections, Aesop Fables, I read Alex Harley’s ‘Roots’ whilst still in elementary school, and the story made such an impression on my young mind. For a long time, I could not watch any movies about the slave trade; I enjoyed reading a wide variety of African writers too, but most indelible in my memory, is Mabel Segun’s ‘My Father’s Daughter.’ As a young, impressionable child, I wanted to be a writer like her. I also absolutely loved Chukwuemeka Ike’s ‘Potter’s Wheel.’ I read almost all the Pacesetters series, read almost all the African writers series where I got to meet greats like: Chinua Achebe, Elechi Amadi, Buchi Emecheta, Ola Rotimi, Wole Soyinka, Flora Nwapa, Cyprian Ekwensi, Ngugi Wa Thiongo, Amos Tutuola, and a host of others. My parents introduced us to classics like: Taya Zinkin’s Stories Told Round The World, Clash Of the Titans, British Tales and Folklore, Greek Myths and Mythologies- so many books that I cannot list here due to space constraints. These books listed above, are a few, among the hundreds, that formed part of my early influences.  I was so comfortable just curling up with a book because it afforded me the opportunity of travelling to other worlds and cultures beyond the one I knew. I had a voracious appetite for books, and still do.
AG: How many hours did you devote to writing?
UK: I do not write on a full time basis, but if I am working on a particular story, I can spend nearly the whole day writing. Presently, I try to devote a few hours a day, say about 2-3 hours to write.

AG: What has been the toughest criticism you have received as a writer?
UK:  I have not really received any criticism that was to tough to handle. I take everything in my stride, and try to learn from it.

AG: What is next for you as a writer?
UK: I will always write, as long as I am able. I also want to work towards, not just writing more books, but making them into movies as well, because the visual medium is a most powerful one.  

© 2013, GeneAfrique. All rights reserved.

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  1. This is interesting and really exciting to know that we have more detailed writers in Nigeria as the days go by.

  2. Great interview! Thanks for sharing insights!