Monday, July 18, 2011

Guest Author - Philip U. Effiong (Monty)

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My guest today is Philip U. Effiong whose father of the same name was the second in command on the Biafran side during the Nigerian Civil War. After teaching in the university for over ten years, this Philip worked as an Oracle Programmer and then as a full-time writer and editorial consultant from late 1998 to 2006. He is still writing but also started teaching at the University of Maryland in the fall of 2006. His areas of specialty are literature, writing, drama, and cultural studies. Ater spending almost five years in Nigeria (January 2001-December 2005) his family relocated to and currently resides in Fairfax, Virginia, USA. I read one of Philip's books titled Monty and will be posting a review soon. Enjoy our interview, and welcome to the beginning of a great week.

What inspired you to want to become a writer?

I enjoyed the folktales my mother told me when I was a child. Later, I was further exposed to the narrative tradition as a student of English and literature at Nigeria’s University of Calabar. Captivated by the power of images and creative storytelling, whether fact or fiction, I was soon motivated to start writing my own stories and analytical essays.


Why did you write Monty, was it in any way autobiographical?

Monty is largely informed by my recollections of refugee camp situations during the Nigeria-Biafra war. However, the goal is not to present a war or refugee camp story, but to demonstrate that the impact of war continues even after the guns stop blazing. Sections of the text are definitely a recreation of personal experiences.


The character of Monty is an intriguing one, where did the idea come from?

Even though Monty is a byproduct of refugee camp situations (as already stated), the character is designed to function as a universal delineation of what it must feel like to be an outsider (which can be engendered by origins, physical appearance, belief systems or mental attributes). This is in addition to portraying how the horrors of war can continue to manifest in various ways even after the ceasefire takes place. The name of the character suggests his rescue on a Monday.


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