December 9, 2013

Zoe: The Book Launch

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of working with one of my fast becoming favorite book authors - Nkem Denchukwu.  This woman's hard at work.  She's been on a country wide tour promoting Gem of the Rainforest.  In between, she managed to pen down a children's book: Zoe—the first in a series to come (available here).  All of this on the heels of a full length novel titled Tribal Echoes released last year (available here).  All in all, she's managed to pull all that off as a single mother of four (phew! Now that's a woman after my own heart!).  I met up with her at her home as she's readies for anticipated guests of the book launch.  Now I've never been to any book launch that catered to the guests with gourmet ethinic foods to salivate and warm the palate as you toured her warm and inviting home and checked out her latest effort.

Nkem epitomizes who I want to be:  we've both had our share of life struggles, instead of letting that put us down, we've decided to WRITE, channel all of life's frustrations into creativity, look beyond ourselves to see a better picture, do what we do with a smile on our face.  Each product serves to represent us—our struggles, our vision, our light, our pain.  Each product would say: I'm a Survivor, I'm still standing "ain't nothing getting (me) down."  The title: Writer/producer/author is now attached to her name forever.  My dreams of becoming a filmmaker has led me to discover my innate talents.  I've surprised myself with my writing overtime; I'm more surprised by the responses I get to it.  There's nothing more fulfilling than watching as your hard creative work blossom and takes a life of its own; watching as others appreciate and become inspired by it.  She'd become my vision of Possible—slashes my self-doubt at its core. 

Waking up to my life's purpose brought me out of the darkness.  Living a purposeful life seems more rejuvenating. Keeping busy, keeps me out of trouble (when Nkem used those same words with me I laughed).  Suddenly, an isolated abyss seems like a choice I made for myself unassumingly. Each day now, my goal is to be productive and contribute in my own little way to the world.

I digress...

My lens flicked at every moment worth capturing (I think). Guests trickled in at a steady pace, congratulating the author, enjoying the feast that's been provided.  The author in turn signed a few autographs.  Since it was a children's book, there were quite a few children. I don't typically photograph children, so my task on this day was especially interesting. I ought to do that more often because children are special.  One has to be especially skilled in engaging them, however they make for very interesting subjects; I certainly had fun with them.
I had to steal some time away from the busy author to appease my curiosity:

M: How are you?
N: I'm good, how are you?
M: Good, good, good!  Well, congratulations on your book.
N: Thank you.
M: You have quite a turn-out today and em, very proud of you.
N:  Thank you.
M: What inspired you to write this book?
N: Actually my kids...  Em, each day I look at them and I believe that the environment is everything for a child.  So when you have, a positive or healthy environment for any child and you inspire them in a very positive way, you're basically setting that good foundation for them.  And also, when I look at adults that are misbehaving, I always try to go back to their childhood to see, actually, how the childhood was, you know?  So I just figured if I can write a children's book, that would definitely, you know, help a lot of kids.  Hopefully it would touch many hearts, and hopefully inspire a lot of children.  In that way, when they get older, we won't have too many adults behaving badly (laughs).
M: Well that's good! The children are our future and if they have all the tools they need and if they have mentors, they usually turn out well rounded and well raised.  So, would you say that you had similar type of upbringing?  Did you have someone to look up to, someone who kinda inspired you while you were growing up?
N: Absolutely.  My mom and my sisters Franca (RIP) and Pricilla.  They inspired me to em, you know, basically be the best that I can be.  So, I'm trying to teach my kids the same thing.  Like my mom always tells me, "always do your part, don't worry about what someone else is doing.  Just do your part and when you do your part, that would definitely help you to know how to deal with every other person, basically learn how to deal with other people's inadequacies."  I learned that from my mother.
M: That's good!  Well (looking at the table) It's apparent that this is not the only book that you have written.  You also wrote Tribal Echoes.  I came across it I'm my research.  Tell me a little bit about that.
N: I published that last year and em, I was also inspired to write the kids inspired the book, our kids in the U.S; African kids—Nigerian kids to be precise, in the U.S and also kids, born and raised in Nigeria inspired the book.  When you see the kids raised here, they don't know the culture or the language.  You ask them "Where are you from?," they go "I'm an American, well my parents are Nigerians."  That didn't make any sense to me.  I always try to change that mindset and I figured, maybe...  A friend of mine actually advised me to write a book of names and, when I started writing the book, I said let me just put a twist to it and have a collection of short stories inspired by my culture—the Igbo culture.  So, that's actually how that happened.
M: Well, from what's going on here, you're multi-faceted, you have a lot of talent, you're very, very creative.  It's like one of those things that I look at and I really, really admire.
N: Thanks.
M: I can only wish you well, more question that I need to ask: where do you expect this book to go and what do you expect from this book launch?
N: With the children's book: Zoe, I'm hoping that a lot of kids in the U.S have a copy.  I'll donate some books to the children's hospitals, then to schools.  It's not just for the money.  One of the goals is to get more kids inspired by reading Zoe, because this is an inspirational collection.  The next in the series (to be announced) would be another book that a lot of kids can relate to.
M: Okay, sounds really good!  Now do you plan on expanding this globally, maybe get into the Nigerian market?
N:  Definitely.  Caribbean market, African market; different languages that I can find translators to do. That way, kids that can't speak English would be able appreciate it and get inspired too.
With a short pause, we both laugh.
M: Once again, congratulations, I'm very proud and I'm sure that your audience would be proud too.
N: Thank you!
Soon Zoe will be available in French, Spanish, Chinese, Dutch, to name a few.  The author envisions that Zoe comes to life in animation as well.  The next in the series is already in the works. There's also another independent film with Writer/Director extraordinaire Don Okolo (y'all have to stay tuned for that). Together, they make a dynamic duo, nothing's standing in the way of those two. 

Keep it here.

Wondering where you can get your very own copy of Tribal Echoes, Zoe or any of her latest work? Want to stay on this author's tail?  Her website has chock-full of information.  More on the movie Gem of the Rainforest here.
Dynamic duo: Don Okolo and Nkem DenChukwu

Thanks for reading.
I appreciate you.


  1. Very Touching and Inspiring indeed. You are an amazing writer. Through your gift and wisdom, Many lives will be truly touched.

  2. Dynamic indeed! So sorry I didn't make it to the book launch but definitely want to get a copy of all your writes. I've only none you a short while but you are a beautiful woman with same beautiful spirit. I wish you well and may God continue to bless every project you go forth with.


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