Conversations with Writers – Interview by Ambrose Musiyiwa

Nana Awere Damoah is a Ghanaian Chevening alumnus who studied in Ghana and in the United Kingdom.
He keeps a blog of his articles at Excursions in my Mind.
So far, he has written and published two books, Through the Gates of Thought (Athena Press, 2010) and Excursions in my Mind (Athena Press, 2008).
His short stories have been featured in Ghanaian newspapers and magazines that include The Mirror and The Spectator as well as in the anthology, African Roar (Lion Press Ltd, 2010).
In this interview, Nana Awere Damoah talks about his writing:
When did you start writing?
My very first article, published in Through the Gates of Thought, was written in 1993 — so I trace my writing life to that year. I was 18 years old then. But my appreciation of the literary form and my involvement in things literary actually started much earlier, in preparatory school, in the early 1980s when each class had to perform a play a day before the vacation day … Small beginnings, appreciation of the arts, learning the rudiments of prose and poetry.
I remember being taught, in preparation for the Common Entrance in preparatory school, to answer the question: “Write a story ending with ‘… and the boy learnt a lesson for life, that obedience is better than sacrifice” … Small beginnings of creative writing.
Then in Form One, in 1986, I wrote what I consider my first creative work, in (you won’t believe this) my history class: “A Day in Carthage”. It was purely fictional, and I loved it!
In the sixth form, we wanted to form a Literary Club and that was what led me to write that first article published in Through the Gates of Thought.
My first break as a writer came in 1995 when I submitted a short story, ‘The Showdown’, to the popular weekly newspaper, The Mirror — and it was published! Seeing my name in print, knowing that this newspaper was the best selling paper in Ghana and circulated all over the country, gave me immense confidence and encouragement.
My skills were further honed when I joined the Literary Wing of the Christian fellowship during University.
In my early days, and this hasn’t changed much, I wrote a lot during the day, in my study notebooks, on sheets of paper, whenever and wherever inspiration hit. I continued to submit stories to The Mirror, The Spectator (which published one story), magazines on the University campus and shared my writings with the Literary club and also posted them on notice boards in the Department and my hall of residence, Katanga Hall. Some of them were published, some were rejected!
I also did a lot of reading in the secondary school and University, to learn about various writing styles.
I started my writing journey with essays, but moved swiftly into short stories. In 1997, I entered and won a national competition for true short stories. I got into poetry in the University, during my undergraduate years, and used to recite my poems in church. I started writing these essays which form the material for both books, in Oct 2004 and circulated to my friends via email. When I was in the UK for my masters, I started updating them on my first blog, Excursions in My Mind.
After a while, friends who received my Empower series started encouraging me to publish a compilation for a wider audience. That was around 2005 whilst I was studying for my Masters in the UK.
I did a compilation and seriously started looking for options, whilst still writing the articles and sharing them online. On my way to Ghana, after a business meeting in Israel, I saw an advert in the Economist by my publisher and I decided to submit my manuscript.
That was in November 2007.
My first book was published in October 2008.
How would you describe your writing?
I write fiction, non-fiction, and poems.
I like to refer to my non-fiction as reflective, rather than motivational. The analogy in the differentiation is this: a motivational book may provoke you, positively, to start running, in whatever direction — that is speed. A reflective book, which is more than (yet inclusive of) motivational, will cause you to run, in a direction, knowing where and why you are running — that is velocity. Because it matters not how hard you row the boat if you are headed in the wrong direction.
Read the rest of the interview at: Conversations with Writers.
About the Interviewer:
Ambrose Musiyiwa is a freelance writer, based in Leicester, East Midlands, United Kingdom. He keeps a blog of his interviews and conversations with writers at: http://conversationswithwriters.blogspot.com/.

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