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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Author Interview: Robyn Oyeniyi

Today I am pleased to present to you all the 76th in a series of Author Interviews. Recently I sat down with the always honest and not yet writing from prison, Robyn Oyeniyi,  and our conversation went something like this:

Paul:  I like to start my interviews by asking if you have any writing rituals?
Robyn:  The only time I can write is early Sunday mornings and sometimes in the late evenings. Four children make for a noisy household and they sleep in Sunday mornings. I usually make myself a coffee and enjoy the peace and quiet of a sleeping house while I write.

Paul:  What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
Robyn:  I’m not sure I have a favorite author right now. As a reader, I have always been a sci-fi and history fan. I loved “The Dice Man” by Luke Rhinehart and “The Shore of Women” by Pamela Sargent, two very different books by very different writers. I remember loving Barack Obama’s “Dreams from My Father” and Sidney Poitier’s memoir “The Measure of a Man”.
I have three books on my “to read” list right now, all by Australian authors. “Am I Black Enough For You” by the wonderful Anita Heiss, “The Happiness Show” by the very out there Catherine Deveny and “Tomorrow Never Comes” by Vera Berry Burrows.

Paul:  If someone had the power to step into your creative mind what would they see?
Robyn:  Aside from the fact my first published book is a memoir, I do have three other manuscripts in various stages. One is sci-fi, so anyone stepping into my mind at the moment would find nebulous aliens hovering over earth. On the other hand, if they stepped into my historical romance they would find semi-naked women and lions.

Paul:  What is a typical day for you? 
Robyn:  Wake at 6:30am, make sure the kids are getting themselves organized for school before I leave the house at 7:30am, work my day job, home somewhere between 6 and 7pm and do the normal family things. Sign excursion forms, hear about the school day, try to spend some time with my husband! During the week we can feel like ships in the night as he starts early and is often very tired.

It can be a long day. I have to fit in my website and book promotion as well.

Paul:  In all the years you’ve been publishing your work, what is the biggest mistake you made that you could share so others can avoid making it? 
Robyn:  Given this is my first book, I have probably made many mistakes. One was not choosing a specific proof reader. I thought my many beta readers would find all the typos, but this wasn’t the case, sadly. I am fixing before the print run! I am also fixing the digital edition. It makes me cringe that I missed the odd error.

Paul:  How do you find the time to write?
Robyn:  With great difficulty. It is not easy juggling a job, husband, four children, writing, a website and running the home (shopping, paying the bills, etc).

Paul:  What is one thing you hope I do not tell the readers?
Robyn:  What do you know that I don’t? I have been told I am so honest I will end up in jail due to my honesty, so while I hate to disappoint you, there isn’t anything!

Paul:  If you are self-published, what led to you going your own way?
Robyn:  My book is politically controversial. I was very close to a media article about the website at one stage, until a government agency read 44 pages of the website: at the last minute the article was pulled.

Asylum seekers are a political football. My book criticizes the government. That is a risk for Australian publishers. Overseas publishers tend to think “Oh, Australia, that little unimportant place” and are not interested.

Yet Professor Patrick McGorry, Australian of the Year 2010, says my book should be made into a movie. The story is one of civil and human rights and needs to be told.

Paul:  Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Robyn:  With Love versus Goliath, the plot was life. With the sci-fi I am running with it. I think that is how my brain works, although I tend to plot in my head – actions or emotions of the characters will just suddenly leap into my thoughts.

Paul:  Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Robyn:  I deliberately under-edited Love versus Goliath. It needed to be raw and emotional. Even so, I did about six editing passes.

I find the sci-fi is easier, it flows, I am not battling the constraints of reality as I was in the memoir.

Paul:  What is your most recent book? Tell us a little about it
Robyn:  Love versus Goliath is my debut publication.  It relates the battle I fought with the Australian government to be allowed to have my husband and step-children by my side. At one stage I was faced with the possibility of fleeing my own country when they denied my husband a visa. Many people do not realize that even though their country may be a party to the ICCPR, in many countries the provisions are not enshrined in domestic legislation. Hence the battle.

Paul:  What inspired you to write this book?
Robyn:  The pain we suffered. A country should care for citizens. What I went through was horrendous. One of our readers recently related to me his saga from 20 years ago. He was made to feel like a criminal for marrying an “Evil Oriental”. The pain is still there for him, 20 years later.

Paul:  Do you enter competitions? Are there any you could recommend?
Robyn:  I entered #PitchWars and while I didn’t win, it was an amazing experience and brought me a mentor, Susan Spann. who has been wonderful.

Paul:  How much marketing do you do for your published works or for your ‘brand’?
Robyn:  As much as I can and I am learning every step of the way. I have a professional journal publishing a review of the book in April, a local paper is about to publish and article and I hit on you, didn’t I?

Paul:  What’s your favorite / least favorite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Robyn:  My least favorite is editing. My second least favorite is waiting for feedback!!!

Paul:  What do you do when you’re not writing? Do you have any hobbies or party tricks?

Robyn:  Did you read the answer to Question 7? Getting my hair cut is a MAJOR personal event! [Paul: I never did find a reference to hair.]

Paul:  Many thanks, Robyn. I truly wish you every success for the future.

About Robyn Oyeniyi: I am a CPA and IT professional who was nearly forced to flee my homeland to be with the man I love. My memoir, Love versus Goliath tells how I fought back, battled a government and won.

In 2010 I met and fell in love with an asylum seeker from Nigeria. Shortly thereafter, Australia denied my husband a protection visa and removed him, beginning our struggle against bureaucracy and prejudice. LOVE VERSUS GOLIATH chronicles our journey – and battle – to achieve recognition of our marriage and bring my husband and children home to Australia permanently.

LOVE VERSUS GOLIATH contains a riveting, first-person account of highly controversial topics such as asylum, immigration, human rights, racism and the impact of violence on children.

Robyn's Blog: Robyn Oyeniyi
Robyn on Twitter: @TeamOyeniyi
Robyn on Facebook: Robyn Oyeniyi
Robyn's latest book: Love Versus Goliath (Amazon)

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1 comment:

  1. Thank for taking the time to support my work, Paul. I really appreciate your kind words.