John Ukah is a Nigerian author whose career has taken him into the world of banking and finance. However, his first novel, ‘Murder at Midnight’, is a far cry from his everyday life.
Q. Coming from a background in banking, how did you get interested in writing crime novels?
A. The books I grew up reading influenced my writing habits.
Q. ‘Murder at Midnight’ is your first book – do you plan to follow this up with a sequel?
A. Yes, there will be a sequel. The characters in “Murder At Midnight” are like old friends and I would like to pay them another visit.
Q. Your hero, Alex Simpson, is an ex-police officer. Is he based on, or inspired by, anyone in real life?
A. He is an entirely fictitious character.
Q. Growing up in Nigeria, how much do you think your early years influenced your writing?
A. I grew up in a house full of books. This significantly influenced my reading and writing habits. Literature broadens the mind.
Q. You’ve mentioned elsewhere that one of your favourite authors is Agatha Christie. Was it a conscious decision to follow in her footsteps, or were there other reasons for choosing the genre of crime fiction?
A. My first book is in the crime fiction genre but there was no conscious decision to follow in her footsteps. My favourite books are detective thrillers, murder mysteries and horror stories. However, some of my next projects could be in a completely different genre.
EXCERPT: Events at the Lodge were getting more bizarre. I just could not sit still. We would know what was wrong with Wahimda when the police came back with a report from the hospital. But I had to investigate Maria’s murder on my own. She had come to me, for advice and I felt I owed it to her, to find out just who had killed her. She had been a very beautiful young woman. And I had liked her. We had shared a brief but intimate moment of passion. I decided to retire to my room where I could think well.
Q. Who is your favourite author and how have they impacted on your own writing?
A. Stephen King is my favourite author. I enjoy reading his horror novels. His books are gripping and highly imaginative. He is a master storyteller. He also has a book on the writing craft, “On Writing” which is an invaluable guide.
Q. Did you carry out any research before embarking on ‘Murder at Midnight’, and if so, what?
A. I did some research on drug addiction, the effects and treatment. I researched the setting of the novel. A writer needs to know well the world the characters inhabit. I also researched the occupations of the various characters.
Q. Where do your characters and stories come from – for example, are they inspired by real people or events?
A. My writing is inspired by conversations with others and personal experiences. A fertile imagination gives wings to such experiences or conversations.
Q. Your book is published by ‘The Fearless Storyteller House Emporium’. What prompted your decision to go with this company rather than taking the route of an indie author?
A. They say success occurs when opportunity meets preparation. I had a ready manuscript and the company was interested in my kind of work. We fit like a glove.
Q. What can readers expect from John Ukah in the coming years?
A. Readers can expect more exciting books. I am currently working on a detective thriller. It is a saga of love, pitiful criminalities, investigations, assumptions and deceits.