Nana Ama Buckman is the author of the hilarious The Adventures of Naughty Kofi series. The series centers around the ridiculous situations that young Kofi Opoku gets into as he navigates life with his family and friends in Botikrom. Her books have been featured in our Subscription Box for 6–8-year-olds.
What kind of stories did you hear or read growing up? Were you a bookworm?
I read a lot of Enid Blyton! Yes, I was a bookworm.
How did you discover your passion for writing?
My passion for writing started in secondary school, I started writing poetry, which I didn’t really show to anybody. When I got to Uni and started taking fiction writing classes, I started writing short stories for my classes and my passion for writing grew.
Why children’s books?
They are fun, light hearted and give me the chance to be a child again.
What is your writing process like? Where do the ideas come from and how long does it usually take to get a full story done?
The ideas honestly are quite random. They pop into my head at the oddest times so I make it a rule to write whatever idea comes up on my phone or in a notebook (if I have one with me). Depending on the story it can take about a month to about a year to get the full story done. I have had times where I have had no inspiration to write, got busy with work or I didn’t really like the idea so I rewrote the whole story!
My writing process involves a lot of prayer, cancelling whole paragraphs and doodling. Depending on the length, I like to write the whole story or as much of it as I can as quickly as possible. Then I spend long periods of time re-reading, making changes and ‘brooding’ over the story. I do this a few times before I think it is ready to be sent to an editor.
How long does it take you to move from idea to illustrated and printed book in your hand?
The last book I wrote took about a year.
Do you have any advice for anyone interested in writing, especially for children?
Don’t limit yourself and your imagination! Write books that you would have liked to read when you were a child or books that cover topics that you think are unrepresented. Lastly, don’t take a publisher rejecting your manuscript as a sign that you are not meant to be writing.
Should an aspiring children’s writer go the publishing house route or the self-publishing route?
First of all the writer should assess their book and try to figure out what route would work best for their book. If they think self-publishing would be a better option they should honestly assess themselves and see if they have the knowledge, time and the funds to self-publish. If they don’t have the knowledge, time and/or funds they will need to figure out what steps they must take to make self-publishing possible. If the publishing house route would be a better option for their book they should study the market, find as much information about the prospective publishing houses as possible to see which ones are likely to select their book and send it. Rejections are likely to come but perseverance is key. I think it all depends on what the writer thinks will be best for their book.
What are your favourite children’s books or authors?
I don’t have a favourite children’s book but I do have authors I really like — Enid Blyton, Roald Dahl and Portia Dery.
What are your thoughts on the children’s literature and publishing scene on the continent?
I think children’s literature on the continent is getting more interesting and exciting. I really like how we are getting more experimental with illustrations. The publishing scene is also growing and becoming more adventurous.
Let’s come to something that Booksie is passionate about, raising children who are readers. As a writer, what will your advice to parents who want their children to read more be?
I would tell those parents to read more themselves around their children, so their children have an example at home. They should also be intentional about going with their children to bookshops to buy books. Reading with their children regularly will also be helpful.
What are you currently reading?
I am a currenly reading a Christian book called Night with a Perfect Stranger by David Gregory.
When should we expect your next book?
Fingers crossed before 2019 ends my next book should be released.
Nana Ama Buckman wanted to be a doctor, housewife, lawyer and psychologist before she realised she wanted to be a writer & publisher. She has always loved to read and gets excited about books with interesting covers and almost any kind of cake. The books in The Adventures of Naughty Kofi series are her first children’s books. She lives in Accra, Ghana.
The Author Spotlight series gives us a sneak peek into the backgrounds, writing and publishing process of some of our favourite African authors. Know any authors we should feature? Let us know and we’ll get on it. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.