Friday, 30 January 2015

Author spotlight ~ Michael Obiora

 I am delighted to welcome Author and Actor

Michael Obiora 

Open Box Productions

Michael ~ Welcome to Jaffareadstoo and thank you for taking the time out of your busy schedule to chat with us today about your latest novel, Vivian's Couch...

What gave you the idea for writing Vivian's Couch?

 Vivian was the anger management therapist for the protagonist in my first novel, Black Shoes. I really enjoyed communicating through her so I made a note to myself to one day have her as the lead in a story I write. She's not necessarily the lead in my new book, but she's definitely the tie that binds all the characters. I also thought it would be challenging to write through the eyes of a female character because as a man, I know that I don't see everything in the world the same way a woman does. And in terms of the story idea, as somebody who achieved success as an actor at a very early age, I know from first hand experience that people can put you on a pedestal because on the surface you appear to "have everything". And maybe sometimes I've been guilty of playing up to that in the past. But at the end of the day I believe we are all a lot more similar than we think, or even care to admit. I wanted to show people from different ethnic backgrounds, and different walks of life all suffering in some way (I really wanted to make sure I put a football player in there because although it's getting a bit more press now, depression in sport is still a subject that I don't think is touched on enough). All trying to find out who they are, where they're going. The characters are different ages and status, but they are all lost and suffering from an identity crisis. They are all crying for help. These are issues that are not attributed to one type of person.

What was the most difficult aspect of the writing the story? How did you overcome it?

The most difficult aspect of the writing of the story was making sure I gave all the characters a unique voice. In my first novel the protagonist was also the narrator, and I found that so much easier than writing about multiple characters from a birds eye view. I think it comes from the fact that I'm an actor so it's part of my job to see things through other people's eyes. So this time round I deliberately decided that the characters would be more evenly spread, and that the majority of the story wouldn't be written in the first person.

Whilst you are writing you must live with your characters. How do you feel about them when the book is finished? Are they what you expected them to be? 

I one hundred percent live with my characters when I write. I dream about them, and I've actually had dreams from certain characters' perspectives. This happens more to me as an actor, but it can become quite obsessive and I find the process of writing lonely. There have been times when I've said to my wife "do you remember when such and such happened?" and she would look at me confused, and then I'd realized "such and such" had never actually happened before but that it's a part of a story I'm writing or thinking about writing!

How do you manage to balance writing with your everyday life and what do you do to relax?

It's not hard to balance writing with my everyday life because my life has never had a structure. I started working as an actor when I was nine years old and the BBC used to pick me up from school for filming at lunchtime. Or some days it was the other way and they'd drop me back to school. Some days I would film all day and we'd have a tutor on set, then I'd be dropped home in the evenings, and then I'd work for an hour at my local newsagent stacking shelves. Sometimes I'd do a paper round for the same newsagent in the morning, and then go to filming. So I've always been good at keeping plates spinning - even more so when I'm busy. When I was nineteen I wrote my first book in between scenes in my trailer. It was easier knowing that I had one or two hours, so I'd be completely focused. I find writing so much more difficult when I'm not busy as an actor. I have my own publishing company so I set my own deadlines and it's not always easy to stick to that when nobody is putting pressure on me - although I'm certainly not asking for anybody to put pressure on me! It definitely has it's pros and cons. But fortunately because I've been working from such a young age I'm very self motivated and disciplined.
I travel a lot and have a wide range of interests so writing would never get in the way of my life. Besides, without life experiences what are we going to write about? Both my books are fiction but they're inspired by fact.

What’s next?

As an actor I'm currently starring in Sky Atlantic's epic eleven-part crime thriller Fortitude. We spent six months filming it in Iceland and it has an amazing international cast. Maybe there will be another series in the future. And as a writer I've got a diary of poetry that I've been keeping since I was about fourteen. I go from being very prolific in my poetry writing, to not being so much. But I've got a nice collection that I'm thinking about publishing. I'd also like to bring out a children's rhyming book - with diverse characters, this is very important to me. And I have another idea for a story partly set in the world of Nollywood (Nigeria's Hollywood).

Black Shoes: Reality Check  Vivian's Couch

Huge thanks to Michael for sharing such an insightful view into the life of a busy actor and writer. Jaffa and I wish you continued success.

You can follow Michael on Twitter @michaelobiora
or visit his website here

My thoughts about Vivian's Couch can be found here.


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Thanks for taking the time to comment - Jaffa, Timmy and I appreciate your interest.