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There’s always a lesson in children stories —Theresa Ameh

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Mrs. Theresa Oyibo Ameh, a writer of children's stories, will be one of the featured authors at the March edition of the Guest Writer Session, an initiative of the Abuja Writers' Forum (AWF).

Ameh, who hails from Igalamela/ Odolu LGA of Kogi state, holds an NCE from the College of Education Katsina-Ala and a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Library Science/English from the University of Nigeria, Nsukka. She taught for seven years and this is possibly where she found the inspiration to write for children before switching to a civil service career.

A mother and philanthropist, she has five titles to her credit namely; "The Twins Visits", "The Stepmother and other stories", "Funmi the Polite Girl and other stories", "Lessons from Aunty Talatu" and her most recent publication, "The Only Son."

In this interview with Miriam Humbe, Ameh talks about her love for writing children's stories, the problem of publishing and other writer issues. Excerpts:

What led you into writing for children?

I started by telling my son bedtime stories. The stories were based on his activities during the day. There was always a lesson attached to each story. It was so effective because each story had a lesson behind it. I decided to put my stories in writing because I felt I could reach out to other children through these stories.

I also realized we had lost our values. We can only regain that by moulding our children the right way in their formative years. I put in a lot of morals in my books. I have a passion for children, a deep passion that goes beyond motherhood. Their innocence is really captivating.

Are you planning to write in other genres?

I have tried writing in other genres but it never flows. You know what I mean? I hardly get that satisfaction delving into other genres like when I write for children. So I shyly hide whatever I have done. Writing for children happens to be my comfort zone. When I write for children, I realize the idea flows naturally, effortlessly. Who knows, I might try something else some day. That will be really challenging.

What is your experience with publishers and reviewers?

All my books were self published. You pay for your books to be published, take delivery of your books and then you are on your own. You do the marketing by yourself. It is that bad. Yes, some people have collected my books to review but I never heard from them again. Maybe they found children books strange. Not what they are used to.

How do you cope with work and writing?

Sadly my writing has suffered so much because my work schedule is really heavy. Since I cannot live on writing, I must have a job that puts food on my table. But I can never stop writing. I have to remind myself that I have to keep on writing, so that my brain does not go soft....

Do you have something new in the pipeline?

Yes, I am working on three books at once. The ideas keep on coming, thank God.

Who are your influences in terms of writing?

Zainab Alkali. Each time I lose it, I read any of her books and start writing again. That's the effect her books have on me.

What are you currently reading?

Presently, I am reading Thomas Hardy's The Mayor of Casterbridge.

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