Monday, December 02, 2013

Interview with Fey Ugokwe, author of 'Wifey'

Fey Ugokwe was born in Washington, D.C., to immigrant parents–one from British Guiana, South America, and the other from Nigeria, West Africa. She was subsequently raised in Pennsylvania, and attended both college and law school in Massachusetts. Fey is an attorney, and the founder of a socially-conscious media activity. At the age of three, she was taught to read and write by her maternal grandmother, a British-trained schoolteacher, and has been writing fiction and poetry since a child. She received her formal training in novel writing, genre fiction writing, contemporary fiction writing, and political fiction writing in Massachusetts, where her professors included renowned authors at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her interests are, namely, in genre, contemporary, and political fiction, and she has a strong interest in uniquely combining the essences of the three, in order to highlight the underpinnings of the human experience.

Her latest book is the contemporary fiction, Wifey.

Visit her website at

Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Eeons ago, in the cluttered, young pro couples' starter apartment of a male cousin of mine and his twenty something wife--both relatively recent Greek life college alums, like the main characters in my book--I observed the former affectionately referring to his spouse as "wifey". I thought it pretty cool the way the word slid so easily down his tongue and out, from one winking corner of his mouth--eyes spiced and twinkling with it--but it touched off an adverse wonder in my head, that eventually, in part, gave birth to my book. I specifically began earnestly pondering about some other households in the nation, wherein the term "wifey" was perhaps being conversely used to belittle, control, break down. Fast forward the pop culture clock, and "wifey" is now effortlessly a part of the contemporary parlance, referring to everything from indeed a wife, to an out-of-this-universe-awesome girlfriend or should-be spousey. And it was just that--the term's continuing use and its expanded, 2013 reality--that gave rise to the story concept dough for my little work of contempo fiction, Wifey.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Penning my book was made excruciating, painstaking by the fact that my mother, a stage IV uterine cancer patient, was undergoing a grueling chemotherapy regimen, and what was then a first set of radiation treatments, at the very same time. As I felt the story insisting itself out from my thoughts, I anxiously began to believe it incumbent upon me to somehow try and redirect almost each every of the rare home and hospital moments unoccupied by my care of my Mum, toward bringing the work into full beingness. But in the hindsight of a one once naive to the cancer caretaker's journey, it might well have been kinder to my weary body, smarting spirits, and reeling mind had I simply journaled/private-blogged a little bit of the book down each day, rather than spinning it all big out like a drone bee, even into  my ever-increasingly wee rations of sleep. In essence, I could've lived, been, more well-rounded during that story-crafting time--in whatever way one actually can/can be along the murky waterway that is chronic family health crisis and its fallouts. Perhaps then, I would now be able to look back on those pivotal, first-book-fashioning months with less blur, more pride, and perhaps even a fleeting moment of actual joy.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I self-published Wifey, turning immediately toward what was the ever-increasing trend all about me. It seemed that everywhere l foot-on-floor networked, whether night or day, some sweet soul was inevitably pressing my palm with one hand and shoving their indie book bookmark into the other. In point-of-fact, at one such function, an independent author that I met was just wafting about the event space like a fairy, ethereally passing out her indie book bookmarks like long-stemmed roses at a Mother's Day service. It made me finally face-to-snout realize how shockingly overdue I was to pen my first work--and how no excuse under the sun could continue to justify remaining unpublished in this era of the easily self-actualized, written word.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

The thing that most shock-and-floored me was how simple-quick it was to publish one's work in the 21st century. I hadn't truly been aware that today-publishing could be as easy as having a cover designed, and essentially just uploading that, some back text info, and one's birthed interior text onto a site. In a way, it was wonderful to realize that the only barrier to publishing was me and the reality of my quirky external timetable.

Q: Can you describe the feeling when you saw your published book for the first time?

When I saw my book bound and in actual print for the first time, I was that delicious mix of Relieved and Elated for a few moments--until Reality joined the party, and promptly vinegar-ed down all that 'whew'-and-'yay' sweet. Basically, in the very next instant, I remembered the checklist I'd compiled of all the various and sundries that indie authors like me were encouraged/expected to do in the name of our works. Then, the day turned indeed a little dark in my head, and I do believe I found myself shortly thereafter in the drive-thru line at Starbucks, for a Tall of some sort of seasonal and frothy, no-nonfat-today, 'there-there' latte. 

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I wouldn't opt to smooch-'n-spill re: future projects at this stage in my published writing life (or more appropriately sometimes, re: the way other obligations oft roughly interrupt the penning process,'kiss-and-kvetch'), because my maternal Grandmum did teach me how to keep a good secret's mouth closed--so, suffice it to say, since many of us writers were almost literally born thinking and jotting, the law of probability says I've likely definitely developed some sort of a backlog, somewhere. And I think I'll winking and brow-raising, leave it at that for now (colon-and-parens smiley face here). 

Q: Fun question: How does your book contribute to making this world a better place?

Wifey explores real-world, contemporary social and political justice themes, namely those of: the experience and effects of a drastic change in socioeconomic status due to domestic/worldwide economic downturn (and the often resultant, individual losses of income and earning potential); multicultural gender norms; gender disparity in marriage; domestic violence; multiculturalism and multiracialism; religion; and more. However, I wrote it to include, not to exclude--and to eat light, savory and yummy like late-night tapas and not like a tummy-popping, old-school steakhouse meal. That all means that, a) it deliberately contains perhaps a surprising blend of peoples--so don't let any of the excerpts lead you to the assumption that you know the origin and walk-of-life of the each n' every of its characters; and, b) that it's still a novella (though bending toward a novel in length), and one that assuredly contains real moments of side-splitting humor, as well as mystery, melancholy, and drama, as does that which it reflects--Life.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

I'd like to leave it up to the readers to extract what they believe are the crucial messages seeping out from my book. Simply put, I think it's better to be sitting in a puddle of your own making than in mystery juice. Forming your own opinions, re: the undercurrents in this type of contempo fiction novella may give you a better idea of what you believe, in part, the issues of that time period were, and moreover, what you think it truly takes to clean up the curious universe that is our world.

Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

Thanks so very kindly for having me, and relishing reads to all! 


1 comment:

  1. Lucky you for you got the chance to get to know up close and personal to her. At least in just a little time of conversation with her you've got right mixture on how to writer books. I am doing online dissertation writing services too, if you'd need help.