Yes, I hear you yelling at me. I know I disappeared for a bit. But you know this is what I do. Also, today isn’t about me.

It’s about Sifa!!!

Sifa Asani Gowon.

Isn’t that a cool name though? It should be the name of a fictional character. In a Bond movie.

She’ll glide into the room wearing something shimmery but classy, and say in an European accent, “I have something you want”. Then she’ll hand over a box of cupcakes. Because Sifa bakes.

At the Farafina Workshop, where we met, she made all of us some seriously sinful brownies. Years later, and I can still remember the rich chocolatey goodness. But alas, the distance between Lagos and Bauchi will not let my sweet tooth be great. It’s okay sha, I still get Sifa’s words. I had the honour of editing her Christian romance novel, Playing By Her Rules, which tells the story of interior decorator, Tari, and celebrity footballer, Kay. Yes people, she wrote a frigging Nigerian Sports Romance!!!

Can you tell that I love her?

The sequel to that book is in the works, and by that I mean the editor (*cough cough* me) is taking her sweet time with it. I have reported myself to the world. I encourage you to harass me. Or not. Today is not about me.

It’s about Sifa!!!

Describe yourself in five words:

Emotional. Passionate. Articulate. Determined. Faithful.

Why those five words?

Those five words encompass who I am in the best and worst way

What do you do for fun?

I bake, read and watch TV for the most part.

Which would you prefer – a quiet evening at home, or a night out on the town? Why?

I think I am so used to being ‘at home’ that a night out on the town requires rigorous planning. And I can get lazy so…there you go.

What’s your favourite TV show? Why?

I don’t have one, to be honest. I just recently finished watching the first season of ‘Luke Cage’ and I was impressed. Looking forward to Season 2.

What’s your favourite drink?

Arab coffee, black and ground.

What’s your favourite snack?

Fresh fruits, if I can have them.

What’s your favourite dish?

I’m a big fan of roasted chicken.

Do you like Pepper Soup?

I LOVE Pepper Soup!

What’s your favourite type of Pepper Soup?

I love fish pepper soup followed closely by cow leg pepper soup.

Why did you agree to contribute to this anthology?

I was excited to be a part of an anthology of happy endings…happy African endings, especially. It was refreshing to be able to engage with other female writers who also shared my passion for writing and who wanted to portray a different and happier Africa to the world.

What inspired your story (stories)?

My story was actually a compressed version of the first novel I wrote (unpublished, thankfully as it was quite…rough) so I really wanted to be able to tell that coming-of-age love story, set in Nigeria, showing the depth of feeling and growth my characters went through.

Do you think happy endings are important? Why?

To be honest, I think that by and large, Africa has been portrayed as the ‘dark continent’ for far too long: war, famine, pestilence and the like. Perhaps there are aspects of truth to that narrative. However, that is only one of many facets of the ‘story’. It was great to be able to read and write stories that elicited laughter, deep thought and romantic sighs- giving hope to the reader and an inner warmth. It is important to provide readers with an alternative to the daily portions of ‘African tragedy’ so freely offered.

What’s your favourite kind of happy ending?

Anything that involves justice and people not dying!!!

What is the best part about writing happy endings?

I love writing happy endings because of the smile it leaves on my face…the warm feeling of hope…the thought that ‘it gets better’…

What is the hardest thing about writing happy endings?

One of the hardest things I face writing happy endings is facing the reality that many times in life, we don’t get happy endings. Sometimes the guy doesn’t get the girl…justice is not served…and the bad guys get away. I have to come up with a realistic ending that still gives that sense of warmth and happiness in the middle of an unfair, unjust world (of fiction).

What’s your favourite genre? Why?

I love romance…because I am a sentimental sap, is why.

What’s your favourite book? Why?
As Sure as the Dawn by Francine Rivers is my all-time favourite book. I love the characters, the story, the setting, the detail and the fact that it is Christian fiction that isn’t ‘sappy’ or ‘syrupy’ but full of the real-life struggles of human beings, told in a riveting way.

Who are your favourite authors? Why?

I love Francine Rivers, Tessa Afshar, Ginger Garrett. I love their engaging stories, multi-dimensional characters and attention to detail.

Which books have most influenced your writing?

I’d say for the most part, all of Francine Rivers’ books (yes, I’ve read all but one).

What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I’d like to take my scriptwriting skills further and write engaging stories about Africans all over the world. Oh, and I’d really, really like to get paid well for doing that.

Which writers inspire you?

I read a book by Nicole Baart and I was blown away by her prose. I am also inspired by Khaled Hosseini’s haunting style which is almost like slow, wind chimes. I hope to one day be able to write in a way that elicits these emotions and pictures.

What else have you written?

I’ve written two novels: Playing By Her Rules and A Taste of Love.

I also have a story featured in the anthology: A Handful of Dust (Stores from the 2013 Farafina Creative Writing Workshop). I have been featured in a few blogs as well as appeared in The Sun (Nigeria).  

I wrote the screenplay of ‘The Sons of the Caliphate’- a 13-episode series aired on Ebony Life TV on DStv and recently completed the scripts for Season Two.

Where can we buy or see them?

Playing by Her rules is available on Kobo (digital reading app) as well as Amazon and Authorhouse. A Taste of Love is available from all sites where Cassava Republic books are sold. A Handful of Dust is available on Jumia and Konga as well as bookstores.

How can readers discover more about you and you work?
I’m pretty active on social media and have a few ‘handles’:

Facebook: Sifa Asani Gowon

Twitter: @sifushka

Linkedin: Sifa Asani Gowon

Book Links:

Playing By Her Rules available on Kobo and Amazon
A Taste of Love available on Okada Books.
A Handful of Dust available on Konga and Jumia.

Goodreads: Sifa Asani Gowon

Check out Sifa’s story Full Circle – A tale of love lost and found, in Pepper Soup. Now available on Okada Books, and Kobo.

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