Saturday, 12 December 2015

Special : Meet 15 years old Nigerian author

Leonard Chukwuebuka Ibeh is a 15 years old Nigeria author. He is presently in his last year in secondary school at  Bethel Seminary Owerri. Ibeh has had his short stories published in online magazines and is presently gathering so much readership. In this exclusive interview, Ibeh revealed that his writing is inspired by Buchi Emecheta, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie,  Helon Habila, Chika Unigwe and a crop of other great African authors. I am sure you can't wait to know everything about what inspires Ibeh, how he reacts to negative comments from readers and especially what he plans to do with his life after his secondary education.

Why do you write? : I honestly don't think I have a particular reason for writing, and perhaps if I do, then I can't tell. It's like an in-built, inside of me, something attached to my being. My brother would always say that I was born to write, and most times I imagine that he's right, in a sense. I just pick up my pen, and I keep writting. To me, it's like breathing, something I just can't do without.  

What inspires your writing? : Whoa! I'd say a lot of things. For nature, flowers and breeze feels me with ideas that I later transfer to my book. For humans, many writers do. Buchi Emetcheta is my biggest inspiration. There's just something about her books that make  me yearn for more. Chimamanda Adichie, Helon Habila, J.M Coetzee, Chika Unigwe, Tami Hoag. These and many others.  

You wrote a story about Biafra, how did you do that considering that the Biafra war ended many years before you were born? : Don't be so sure..(laughs). Yea, it did. But, I always felt I had to say something about Biafra, especially, considering the dimension the agitation for the country was going. I wanted to pass a message, perhaps about the suffering, what people felt. Anyway, how I was able to do it? I read books, I asked questions. I watched movies.  

And you were able to paint such a vivid picture of the aftermath of Biafra just from reading and asking questions? : Yes, I was. Thanks for that beautiful compliment.
What kind of questions did you ask and what books did you read? : My wonderful uncle, Mr Onyekachi Obinna would always be so generous to listen to my unending questions, and answering them with that pain-staking slowness to make sure I got the message. Chimamanda Adichie's,' Half of a Yellow Sun', and Cyprian Ekwensi's, 'Survive The Peace' were my major pillars in voicing out my thoughts.  

At what point did you decide that writing stories is what you want to do and what did you do after reaching that decision? : My brother would always tease me about writing even as an unborn child (laughs). But, the actual truth was that I started writting, fully, at the age of eight. Back then, I wrote plays, awful plays, I guess. The turning point in my writing was when I won an inter-school competition. It was such a surprise. I had applied because everyone else was applying, and so, when I won the prize, I told myself it was either writing, or nothing at all. After reaching that decision, I began to send out my short stories to magazines.  

How receptive are your short stories to the magazines you sent them? : Well received, I'd say. So far, I've published four short stories. Three in Tuckmagazine, and one in Jotters United.

What reactions do you get from your readers and how do they make you feel? : It would be dishonest of me to say I get kudos all the time. Sometimes, of course, a few people make such annoying comments. As for the others, response has been quite impressive. My readers exhilarate me, make me want to do more.  

Your readers make you want to do more, so what efforts do you put so as to be able to do more? : I'd say I do my best. I'm human, afterall. I just keep writing and publishing.
How do you react to negative comments from your readers? : The truth is that I mostly ignore them. You just can't be liked by everybody, no matter how perfect you think you are. Ben Carson is a man I respect so much, an idol, and yet a close friend of mine would always be quick to dismiss him as an over-hyped human. My readers could be positive or negative. As their lives differ, so do their opinions. As to how I receive negative comments, I ignore them if they sound intentionally annoying or mocking. And, I accept them if they would improve me in some way.

You have mentioned your brother and your uncle earlier, apart from them how supportive is your family and friends? : My family has been so wonderful. They understand what I do and they really support me. I would always be grateful for their gift of space, and time. Friends have been amazing too. Back then in Junior Secondary, my mates usually act as critics for my works. Now, I think I have a lot of amazing friends too, mostly on facebook, whose generous comments give me balance. James Ademuyiwa is simply  splendid. He made me see my stories with new eyes.  

What is your greatest achievements so far? : I won't say I have achieved anything yet.  
Alright, so what's your plan for the next five years? : I'll be out of the university by then, I guess. I hope to venture into writing full-time.

I gathered you have won a couple of awards, which and which? : One award so far. It was an inter-school prize. It was quite unexpected. I don't think I'd ever forget it. It was my own personal Nobel, and Booker, and Caine. 
Your words to other young writers : Most importantly, believe in yourself. You don't have to be Adichie, or Habila, or Achebe to be perfect. Go through your work and tell yourself how okay it is. Read the works of people you admire, and, read wide. Writers are readers. All Adichie's book line my shelf, and I mostly sleep with a copy of Joys of Motherhood by Emecheta. Keep writing. When it's in you, it's just in you.   

You can read Ibeh's shortstories at :


  1. I dearly love the man, he's my pen-friend. I write too, both short stories and poems. But all I can say, is that, both are still in their inchoative state, not yet fully formed.

  2. Keep it up Recondite, it's a step at a time. Thanks.