Featured Friday! Reni K Amayo

Reni K was born and raised in London to two Nigerian immigrant parents, both of whom had dreams about young Reni following in their medical footsteps. Reni K, however, had other plans. Instead she chose to spend her time writing young adult fantasy fiction featuring strong diverse female leads. Reni K’s upcoming book Daughter Of Nri is set in ancient Africa and follows two bad ass twins who descend from the lost gods

What’s your favourite part of the lifestyle of an Author?

I wish I could say that my favourite part of the author lifestyle was being able to wake up to the morning sun instead of my grating alarm—but I still have a full time job and so that is more of an idealistic goal than reality for now. In the absence of that, I would say that my favourite part of writing is that moment half-way through dinner, or as your walking back home, or picking up groceries at the local store, when an idea bursts into your mind. An idea about a character, or the plot, or a fascinating dialogue. An idea that had never crossed your mind before but you know for a fact that it is perfect. I love that moment when your scrambling to write it down because you’re certain that it is exactly what the book needs and you’re terrified that the idea will escape your mind somehow. When your heart feels light and you can’t help but to do an embarrassing jig because you’ve discovered an idea that is going to take the book to the next level. I absolutely love those moments.

What made you start writing?

Love and boredom. I love writing, I always have. I remember one time in primary school when we were given an assignment over the Christmas holidays to write a story about Ebenezer Scrooge, and I ended up spending my entire break penning down a 20 page nonsensical novella, which my teacher ticked blindly through before giving me a gold star (no doubt for effort, even back then I knew she couldn’t possibly have read it). As I grew older, so did my love for stories. I spent countless hours dreaming up new stories and scenarios. Soon enough, I grew up and landed myself a decent job alongside a pile of stress, boredom and pressure. Not a lot of fun. So I ended up turning to what I loved – writing! Luckily, I had a story in my head that I really wanted to read, I wanted to read it so badly that I eventually started to jot it down, and 5 years later it became a reality 🙂

Is there an Author that you consider your inspiration?

Definitely J.K. Rowling. I adore her. I grew up reading her books. Embarrassingly enough, I was part of the cohort of desperate kids who waited outside their local WH Smith on the day of the book release. A fact that I am still mortified by—but she should be incredibly proud of.
She created a beautiful and intricate world, that left people feeling euphoric. Yeah, I’d definitely consider her as an inspiration. What a dream.

What’s your number one tip for an aspiring Author?

This might not work for everyone, but it was life changing for me – my tip is to create small and attainable weekly word count goals. Tell yourself that you every week you are going to meet your quota of X words, and then tick them off as you do. This really helped me to avoid long lulls in my writing – hope it helps you too!

What type of book do you like to read and does this differ from the genre that you prefer to write?

I write fiction fantasy books and I also love reading fiction fantasy books. It is hands down my favourite genre. That said, I’m also a huge fan of chick lits – I haven’t written a book in that genre yet, but I wouldn’t rule it out…

Which one of your characters would you most like to spend time with?

Mama Aminata! The head cook in the palace of Nri. The old woman is originally from Namibia, but she migrated over to the kingdom of Nri decades ago. She wears her hair in several thick bundles, all of them coated in a red waxy otjize paste—except for the ends, which are soft white puffs that nearly reach the ground. Her brown leathered skin is a powdery reddish brown colour and her smile warms the room. She is wise, enigmatic and wildly intelligent. She tends to go off on windy tangents, but a conversation with her is definitely worthwhile – you’ll end up learning a few useful nuggets along the way. She is also a damn good cook. I would love to sit in her kitchen, and listen to her as she prepared a fabulous meal for me.

Which book do you consider a must-read?

Book? Singular? Just the one…oh that’s hard. Um well in this very moment I would say The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis I think everyone should read that book.  It is so richly written and the story can be deliciously light or incredibly deep, depending on how you want to take it. It’s a truly fantastic series of books.

What’s been the hardest edit that you’ve had to make? Why did you want to keep the material in?

Currently in the process of editing now. Nothing has been significantly difficult so far, but I am definitely waiting at the edge of my seat…

If you could live in a book, which one would it be?

Oh easy! Harry Potter. I’m 98% sure that if I were in Harry Potter, I would have been accepted into Hogwarts. Yup I  would have received my letter when I was 11 years old because clearly the muggle life is not for me. According to the several online tests that I’ve taken, I would’ve been in Hufflepuff. Now 13 year old me, might have been disappointed with that outcome, but right now that suits me just fine. Don’t get me wrong, Gryffindor had a great selection of students— heroes and all that— but I think if we were all to be honest with ourselves, they were all a bunch of pushy trouble-makers. Trouble-makers with good intentions, but trouble-makers nonetheless. I have never been a big fan of breaking rules and risking my life, so I think hanging out and reading books with the other members of Hufflepuff might’ve been a bit more ideal for me.

If you could pick an Author to write your biography, who would it be?

Chimamanda Adichie. I love her writing and her voice – I think the audible would be a creamy delight! Also one her characters in Americanah is named after me, so we’re pretty much half way there if you ask me.

Is there any conflict between what you want to write and what you think your readers will like?

Ehh no not really. Right or wrong, I don’t really consider what the reader of the book would like. I don’t write a book so that it will be liked. I feel more like the story is writitng itself through me if that makes sense? I think about what makes sense for each of the characters, and they are the ones that dictate where the plot really goes.

What effect can a review have on you, if you read them at all? Both the good and the bad.

I rarely read book reviews, so I would say they have very little effect. I’m very particular about the books that I like, and I know that there are a number of people out in the world who can’t stand books that I love dearly. I feel like how you feel about a book, is largely subjective. What matters more to me is the blurb, the title, the book cover – the first page, if you hook me on the first page, them I’m good to go!

Can you sum up your life story in ten words or less?

She came, she saw, she sighed and made some tea.

What’s exciting you about your next project?

I can’t wait for people to read Daughters Of Nri! I just want them to read it so we can discuss, I’d love to just discuss the book, as a reader, get people’s thoughts on the various things that happened along the way. I think that’ll be so cool!

And finally, you have one quote to be remembered by, what is it?

“Don’t wait for the storm to pass, learn to dance in the rain” – Vivian Greene

I love this quote because i think so often we look forward into the future, when things will be better for us and we’ll eventually be happy, but the future isn’t real, neither is the past – the only thing that’s remotely “real” is the present – so we need to learn how to be happy and grateful now.

Thanks Reni for those interesting insights. We couldn’t agree more on your anti-Gryffindor stance. Although, Ravenclaw Tower is clearly the place to be!

If you want to know more about Reni, then you can check her out on the links below.


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