H.O Anny, as she is popular called on the social media space, Is a writer and self-published author. She also writes about relationships, does match making on her page and thoroughly keeps her audience entertained.
We caught up with Anny, and below is the interview.
Pelleura: It is nice to have this chat with you.
Anny: Same here
Pelleura: Please can you share details of your background with us?
Anny: Of course. I’m from Oyo state; a Law graduate from the University of Ibadan. Presently, I am a practising Lawyer at Ibadan.
Pelleura: What were your dreams like when you were in school?
Anny: Basically, I couldn’t wait to leave school so I could start making money. I thought it would be easy but reality has a way of defining a dream. However, I still hold the hope to be an entrepreneur one day, gaining experience as a lawyer is my top priority for now.
Pelleura: How do you bring writing into your tight schedule?
Anny: Presently, I have a day job, 9-6pm which I started few months back. As a result, I haven’t written in over three months. I also haven’t been able to write due to anxiety. This is the first time in two years to have taken a break of almost three months. I think I can still write irrespective of how tight my schedule is, but I haven’t been able to bring myself back to writing. I mean all the ideas are still in my head, they increase daily but penning them have been kind of rocky. I don’t think it’s a writer’s block, I think my anxiety is just getting the best of me.
Pelleura: Please tell us about your writing. How did you start?
Anny: What made me start writing is kind of personal but it came about when I needed an escape and didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to be alone, scared as I was then so I started writing and posting online so I could interact with people who ordinarily I wouldn’t have had the chance to talk to. Although I first had the thought of writing in my fourth year in school, that was after reading Fifty Shades of Grey.
You should know that all through my junior years, I read books of different genre though my best were paranormals and I grew up enjoying romance and comedy as well. Eventually, as I grew older, I started exploring classical and most importantly, fictions and fantasy. Books from people like Woke Soyinka or J. K Rowling’s didn’t encourage me to want to be a writer because they were written in such sophisticated and elaborately fancy filled diction that I didn’t see myself using. They were too ‘top-notch’ for me at the time; too intellectual for me. The indigenous books I also was acquainted with were school projects that was more of a burden than an interest to me, so when I saw how simple fifty shades of grey was, I felt like ‘so I can use my plain simple Nigerian English and still make sense?’ That’s when my first storyline popped up but I didn’t write till like two years after then.
Pelleura: What inspires you as a writer?
Anny: The fundamental inspiration is my thought. I have this complicated way of picturing events in my head and if I tell you that I haven’t even had the boldness to write it as it is in my head would you believe? I try to slim my thoughts down to what people can relate too so I don’t provoke other people’s thought. Then I read Game of Thrones and I was like I’m going to regret it if I don’t start writing it as it is in my head.
Secondly, my inspiration comes from the idea of writing a story about someone or something of importance. I have never written a story just for writing sake. I always wanted to pass across a message. I make sure to incorporate real-life events and make my position know through my character. So having such voice is powerful to me since as of today, I am one of the many voiceless Nigerians who has much to say but not heard.
I find inspiration in the movies I watch because they are stories too. I wonder and appreciate how the mind of writers work to come up with these intelligent and magnificent characters. It’s incredible. Even though I didn’t have enough indigenous writers to look up to, I still find inspiration in the ones I’ve read as I have never read a book by a Nigerian without a thought-provoking theme. It’s amazing.
Pelleura: How many titles have you written?
Anny: Because I’m still self-published, I kind of have a lot I’ve completed (10 in number) and presently, four work-in-progress (stalled for now)
Pelleura: What kind of books do you enjoy reading?
Anny: The little girl in me loves the romantic and paranormal stories (that’s what I grew up reading) however the real me is more interested in fictions and fantasies. I’m however not restricted to this two genre, I enjoy reading anything readable, even magazine so far as I can gain more knowledge from it.
Pelleura: Have these books in any way influenced your writing.
Anny: I don’t restrict myself to one genre and so the best way to answer this so as not to sound condescending is that all the books I’ve read, all the authors that have influenced me only taught me to think outside the box. I have never fashioned the way I write like any of them. In fact, when I started writing, I didn’t even read books for like a year. I wanted to have my style and I’m glad my readers have pointed it out to me many times how I write differently.
Firstly, I’m not literary in nature. I don’t write to win a prize or something. I just write to entertain and pen down these thoughts. Also, the main reason I didn’t start writing earlier was because of the types of books I was exposed to in school. We were always dissecting and analysing. They were too complicated. I didn’t even enjoy most of them because of this. So I wanted something different. But after writing and passing Literature in Cambridge, I knew I could be literary, I just don’t want to be.
Pelleura: What are the obstacles you’ve faced as a writer and how were you able to overcome them?
Anny: You know writing is a hobby to me. It is a time I can think differently, be a whole different person, have a pretty face, big booty and big chest. It’s like a fantasy to me but it is not my job. It’s not my daily routine or what brings food to my table and so it’s not really affected me that much. The only time that I had challenges were the times when I would apply for a competition, spend time writing and wracking my brain for brilliant storylines and then at the end of the day I don’t get called back. I have stopped applying for competitions anyway. The rules about having a publishing coy kills morale and not getting called back kills it more.
Another major challenge is breaking into the market since I don’t have a publishing deal. Publishing companies are looking for the best writers that’ll bring money in for them which is business and for people like me, it’s hard to get their attention. This is why I don’t depend on my writing as a source of income. Until you become a published author, I don’t think you should depend solely on your books. It’s unwise.
Other challenges about money, time, writing and editing are just by the way but they are there. There was a time I was making 40k per week from my stories. I would write daily during those periods but it was a sell-out, I knew I could do more so I stopped and worked further to perfect my writing. I know one day I will get all the resources I need to officially publish my books to the world.
To tackle the obstacle of being rejected by publishing houses, I stopped applying to the publishing houses. I understood that they were rejecting me because my books weren’t good enough or my stories were weak or my writing was bad. So I’ve been taking time to grow and mature into my own thought, into my own words. I now have storylines I wouldn’t have thought of two years ago. It’s crazy because I would still be that mediocre girl who wrote In Your Arms or Strippers Club. I’m a lot more than those books now, and I can’t even wait to see what I do with myself.
Pelleura: In a country like ours, do you think the government has put in place structures that help freelance writers survive?
Anny: Laugh my fat ass out. I have never heard of government support for freelance writers before. There might be but I’ve not been fortunate enough to come across it. I am a member of various writers group and I haven’t come across it, maybe that has happened before I started writing or when I wasn’t looking.
Pelleura: So presently, what are those achievements you’ve made in your writing and what future goals are you aiming for?
Anny: My greatest accomplishment is evolving, knowing better, thinking more than Romantic comedies, understanding the art of writing, realising that character development has been my major defect, learning and teaching myself, coming to self-realisation that I can be a great writer even though I’m not J.K Rowling’s or Wole Soyinka.
I write under three pen names, each indicating different genre and personality, I can’t wait to finish my coming of age projects, and then getting money to publish them.
Pelleura: How have you used social media to your advantage?
Anny: lol, social media is my friend, though I’m on a well-deserved break. It’s important to understand the power of social media and even more important to understand how destructive it is. I’ve made bulk sales through social media, I have two websites, one for my books and other for a lifestyle and fashion blogging. I’m on break from all of them for now, I mean all of them.
Pelleura: What’s the most important social media activity you engage in daily, to grow your writing business?
Anny: I post my stories on Instagram, that’s how I started gaining an audience, people read, follow and ask for more. Not all my stories are on Instagram but that’s where I started from.
Pelleura: Do you have your own online platform?
Anny: Yes, I do.
Pelleura: If you were to do it all over again, would you choose to start and grow a business, or would you rather stick to paid employment?
Anny: My dream is to become an entrepreneur and a writer, I’m not giving that up. I am presently in gain employment so I can understand my profession, I just don’t want to retire my wig and gown after law school. My parents agree with me to have a few months to gain experience and move on with my goal in life (which I have started by the side).
Pelleura: What advice do you have for upcoming writers?
Anny: But I’m upcoming too now. However, if you have money than me, pay these publishing houses and get your books published. I keep talking about publishing because in my experience that is the best, publishing your book in paperbacks explode your writing to a whole lot of audience entirely. Online publishing is also important but of different weight. Start writing again and repeat the process. Also, don’t restrict yourself to relatable storylines, they don’t stay long on the minds of your readers. I learnt this the hard way.
Social media is important, your audience are important, grow them as you grow as a writer.
Pelleura: Thanks so much for your time, Anny. It was nice having this chat with you
Anny: My pleasure.
So, You’ve read from Anny. If you want more from her, you can connect with her via her social accounts below:
Instagram: @aonakohl and @love_sexand_marriage
Facebook: @aonakohl and @lsmstories