Some of the impact stories in the African creative space are often those scarcely discovered. Itanile’s hope is that as we connect with some of the tiny dots, we would build a nest for those birds who are free-flying. In an ocean of Brownian art forms, African storytelling and the narratives that connect us need to be lassoed and soldered together. Stanley Umezulike is one of the many young African creatives making a difference through storytelling, publishing and community growth.
Stanley is a Nigerian author, publisher, and creative writing coach born in Enugu and raised in Anambra, Nigeria. He is the founder of Prolific Fiction Writers Community on Facebook where he helps fiction writers master the art of storytelling. He is also the author of Amazon bestselling novel, Ties That Bind. Stanley writes intriguing crime fiction, family drama, and romance set in tropical Africa. Talking about his education, Stanley says he is a graduate of Political Science from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka and he also holds a Master’s in International Relations at the same University.
His writing has appeared in various publications including the Daily Sun (Nigeria), Love Africa Book Club, Itanile, Spillwords, and Love Africa Pres and popular online bookstores across the world. Apart from reading and writing, he enjoys watching thriller TV shows, listening to good music and travelling to new places. Somwhere in Awka, Anambra state, Stanley has made himself a nest from which he writes.
Stanley shared with Itanile, how he started writing at the age of 14 as a secondary school student. He says he always enjoyed reading from when he was still just a child.
“One of my childhood’s sweetest memories is of my late father (may his soul rest in peace) giving me books and newspapers to read. At the age of five, I remember one week when he returned from one of his travels, the first thing he did was to give me a Saint Anthony Magazine.”
“Chukwuebuka, read the story on the last page. You will love it,” his father addressed him by his Igbo name.
“My eyes sparkled. I collected the magazine and turned the pages fast until I reached the short story section. I finished the sweet short story in five minutes and went to his room to ask for more magazines. From then on, my father continued to give me magazines and newspapers and buy books for me. I remember he’d open the newspaper and tell me to read the literary section. It was later when I thought about it that I discovered that my father laid a strong foundation for what would eventually become my writing career.” To our question on the kind of writing he does most frequently, Stanley says he often writes crime fiction set in tropical Africa. “I love it. I enjoy the writing process,” he adds.
In his latest work, Ties That Bind, he develops a crime fiction novel with strong romance elements. It features a Department of State Services (DSS) Agent, Ray Okon, set in Abuja the capital of Nigeria. In the story, Ray and members of the Homicide and Anti-Drug Trafficking Unit fight against a deadly criminal cartel that is driving illegal drugs into the city of Abuja. The story explored themes of love, human trafficking, drug trafficking, forced prostitution and ill-gotten wealth.
Stanley published his first book in 2013 through a local printing press in Nigeria. He was but a newbie writer and made mistakes along the way. It was great that he learnt from those mistakes and with the help of mentors, was able to learn a lot about how the publishing industry works. In 2017, he started building his brand as a writer through Social Media. He says that it helped him connect with authors from different parts of the world. It was through Social Media that he got in contact with a traditional publisher that he is working with today. For Stanley, the journey has been amazing and filled with reasons for gratitude.
He says that his most prominent experience as a writer is getting his latest book, Ties That Bind, published. Ties That Bind is the first crime fiction novel featuring a DSS agent set in Nigeria. Getting the book published was a dream come true and he hopes it will inspire other African writers who want to delve into the crime fiction genre.
More on Ties That Bind
A criminal cartel on the loose. A woman caught in the crossfire. Ray Okon, a low-ranking DSS analyst is frustrated at being stuck in a desk job. He’d rather be in the field – experiencing the adrenaline rush of catching the bad guys. When the love of his life, Loretta Olawale, rejects his marriage proposal, he has no choice but to move on and bury himself in his work…until the ties that bind them brings them together in the most cruel way possible.
As he and his Homicide and Anti-Drug Trafficking Unit track down a deadly criminal cartel at the centre of Abuja city, Ray finds himself thrust back into Loretta’s life. But this time, she is in grave danger, and time is running out. Ray finds himself in a race against time to unravel the case and save Loretta’s life. But as buried secrets and lies surface, they are entangled in a sinister game of blood and death.
In 2020, Stanley was awarded Top 40 International Leading Youth Award, in the best author of the year Male Category. It was an initiative organized by Make Mee Elegant Foundation to commemorate the International Youth Day and celebrate youths across the world who have been truly outstanding and impactful in their various fields. This was in recognition of his work of transforming lives through storytelling and sharing his stories with the world.
The award was a great honour that also recognized the work Stanley is doing through his online community. He provides younger writers with guidance and mentoring that will enable them to achieve their writing dreams. Delighted by this award, he says it reminded him that the reward for hard work is more work.
Sharing more about his motivation, Stanley says:
“I’ve long dedicated myself to the service of humanity—to adding value in the lives of others. My goal is to continue to transform lives through storytelling. I am also helping young writers and aspiring writers learn how to write stories for the International audience so they can dominate the global stage. Beyond raising a new generation of fiction writers who would understand how to write for the international audience, my lifelong goal is to promote literacy, reading and writing culture among young people across the world.”
When asked about the relationship between his work and family, Stanley describes his family as his greatest support. “They have been very kind and supportive. I’m grateful to my family for their love and encouragement. They like my work. They are proud of me and every day I strive to work hard and be the best I can be.”
He advices young African writers to read a lot of books in their genre and learn from the best. He states the importance of reading in different genres as well. He believes that the young writer shouldn’t rush to write and publish. “When you finish working on your first draft, revise it until it becomes better. Then, give it to beta readers to read and offer you feedback. The feedback you will get from these beta readers will help you improve the story. Work with an editor who understands the genre. The editor will help you polish the story and make it shine.”
He also advices that writers shouldn’t be discouraged when they read books written by great authors and start to feel like their writing is not good enough. “Every expert was once an amateur. Practice makes perfect. As you keep learning and remain consistent, you will continue to get better in your writing craft and eventually get to the top. Don’t be afraid to write your own story. You are the only one who can do justice to it.”
Stanley’s current writing project is a crime fiction novel in his Ray Okon series. He is eager to get it done and ready for readers to enjoy.
To connect with Stanley, reach him on on Instagram @stanley_umezulike, Twitter @stanumezulike and Facebook at Stanley Umezulike. To read his book, Ties That Bind book, follow the link: http://ow.ly/itLX50EpYeH