Most pharmacy students in most parts of the world are known for just burying their heads 😅 in textbooks of pharmacology, pharmaceutics, medicinal chemistry, etc. without doing anything extracurricular. Muoh Joanne, 22, a pharmacy student in Ghana and the IPSF Contact Person has defied the odds. Last month, she released her first novel. Kennedy Odokonyero, our Regional Media and Publications Officer, interviewed her last week. Here’s the excerpt:
It has been a month or so since you released your first book “Through It All”. How has it been received by readers and book stores?
My main channel for sales are the online bookstores and so far things are looking up I guess. I have had people tell me how they are looking forward to a sequel which won’t be coming out though. But, so far it’s been positive.
Let us talk about the book itself. What’s the inspiration behind it? Or rather, what inspired you to write it?
Well … my mum and sister actually. We lost our grandma some years back (my mum’s mum) and I remember how my mum held up, how she was strong for the whole family, being the first born. It was difficult for her, I could see her pain but she wasn’t letting it out. How we would be talking about my grandma and her eyes would get all teary but she wouldn’t let a single tear drop. For my sister, she has always been patient with us, never complaining, never shouting and even when she does she would always apologize. So they were my motivation or inspiration.
Oh! It’s a real life story, right? I mean the story in the book.
No… it’s not a real life story. It’s fiction. But they were the main inspiration to write it. The book started on a tragic note, with the main character losing her dad…
Hahaha I see. How long did it take you to write the book? Writing, editing and eventually publishing?
The writing took like a year and some months… you know with school and all. I wrote it basically during the holidays because I didn’t want to get sidetracked. However the few months before I published, I wrote in school usually in the middle of the night. As for the publishing and editing, that took about 4 months maximum.
You have never contributed any article to our blog or newsletters. I didn’t know you were a writer until you released the book. Maybe you are only a long-story kind of writer? 😊
Well… you could say that I am a long story kind of writer. But then I have tried my hand on an article, the tuberculosis article. I believe the feedback from it, would tell me if I should venture into article writing. Apart from that… it also depends on the subject matter I guess.
Personally, I am a short (blog) kind of writer. I prefer the about 600 words kind of writing. Yes, I think you should venture into writing articles. Our blog and newsletters are open to give you the platform.
Sure, [I] would give it a try.
In my part of the world it’s unheard of pharmacy students who are novelists at the same time. What’s special about you? 😊
Wow… I can’t say actually. I guess it’s my God-given talent…so it’s only right that I use it to inspire people so that at the end of it all I can tell God that this is what I used the talent he gave me for. It’s all about the readers and the lives that the book would touch.
Interesting! Is there a way home or your early school life influenced you into writing? I am curious to know if you were a literature student in secondary school.
Oh… not at all… I was never a literature student. I have always loved books, I started reading novels when I was in primary school or so (I started with Harry Potter, I had the whole collection then) and you know… making up stories and all. Back then in secondary school I could just stay and start telling my cousins stories from my head and they would always clamour for more. So after secondary school I wrote my first book which I actually plan on publishing later after I have dusted it.
A lot of young writers have this challenge of finding publishers willing to take up their work. How was the experience for you? Was it different?
I self-published actually. I did not want a situation where my work wouldn’t look like my work when it was published.
Haha did you self-finance the whole project too? 😃
Well… I had family support. Family is awesome.
Let me give a special shout out to your family.✌ Mom, Dad, Siblings, Uncles, Aunties, etc. Thank you for supporting Joanne.
Hahaha you have just reminded me that you’re a Nigerian studying in Ghana. The “ooo” says it all.😃
Yes oo. [I] am Nigerian.
Is there a possibility that you could “abandon” our noble profession of pharmacy to become a full time novelist?
Haha. Never! I don’t think it can ever happen. Writing is something I love doing no doubt. It’s my hobby. So I guess it would be part time.
Thank God! 😀
Are there author(s) you look up to?
Yes actually. Ermm… Chimamanda Adichie, Myne Whitman (she inspired me to self-publish, she is also a self-published Nigerian author), Nora Roberts (I have always loved her writing style), Debbie Macomber and Danielle Steel. I love their writing style.
Great. Looking at the future of African literature, how do you think it will be?
I actually think African literature is evolving. We have great writers, even those that are upcoming. I mean it’s raw talent. Before you know what, we will be everywhere. I just think it’s a matter of time. It’s also up to us, we writers to step out of our comfort zones and you know spread our wings, let’s not be limited to just Africa.
Any fun facts about you that your readers (fans) should know?
Well, people won’t understand, but I love Korean series. 🙈🙊
What are your parting words?
I would like to say that for individuals who have it in them to write I believe you can use any resource at your disposal. I for one I feel a lot more comfortable writing on my phone.
I just hope that my readers would be able to connect with my book, on a high level I guess. That’s the whole point, you write so that someone out there would relate with what you’ve written and in that way you know that you are actually touching lives.
Thanks Joanne for talking to us. Congratulations on your first book, a first to many more. I will buy my copy when I travel to Ghana in July for AfPS.
You are welcome. It was great talking with you.😊
Editor’s note: You can buy the book from Joanne’s website; www.joannemuoh.com. You can also get the book from online bookstores such Amazaon, Barnes &Noble, Foyles and Indigo.