Author Chimamanda Adichie recently held a webchat session with her fans through Guardian UK’s website. The insightful chat gave us a glimpse into the life of the new mum.
Chimamanda answered questions about motherhood, feminism, her creative process, female sexuality and early failure. The author who recently revealed that she gave birth to a baby girl described motherhood as exciting and terrifying at the same time.
See some of the Q&A below.
On her protagonists:
bobinchiclana asked: I love your writing but most of your protagonists are fairly middle-class or privileged. Have you thought of writing about people who are more in the margins of society… in the case of Nigeria in poorer rural communities.
Chimamanda: I am fairly middle-class and privileged. Perhaps not surprising that I mostly write what I know. (However, Ugwu, who is the soul of Half of a Yellow Sun, is not.)
On Traditional Values and Christianity in Modern Nigeria:
flungoutofspace asked: I’m Udoka, and I wanted to ask if you think of the effects of the interaction between traditional Nigerian (esp. Igbo) values and Christianity in modern Nigeria, and what are the implications for fiction that attempts to address that combination?
Chimamanda: I think it is catastrophic that we, in the name of Christianity, are destroying our pre-Christian heritage. An ancient tree burned down during a vigil. Artifacts destroyed in the name of ‘progress.’ We need to tell those stories. If you are thinking of ‘addressing that combination,’ please do. You have a reader here.
On being a new mom:
Sarah Hannan asked: What excites you the most about being a new mom? What terrifies you the most about being a mom?
Chimamanda: Most exciting – a new and unique kind of love has come into my life, glorious and joyful and encompassing and full of discovery. Most terrifying – the anxiety-filled desire to protect her from everything and the terror-filled sense that I cannot.
MontagandMildred asked: Would you say you’re a confident person? Do you write with the idea that people will want to read what you have to say in your mind or do you write purely for yourself? I tend to be my own worst enemy and believe that no one will enjoy what I have written.
Chimamanda: Self doubt is part of the creative process. I hate to have it but I also realise it is part of the process. Otherwise you become complacent, which is cancerous for creativity. I generally write the kind of books that I like to read.
On Female Sexuality:
mariannemandu asked: One of my favourite things about your books is the way your female characters own themselves and their sexuality in such a natural and unselfconscious way. How much feminist theory informed creating the characters, and what was it, if any?
Chimamanda: Haven’t read much feminist theory and generally try to keep ‘theory’ away from my creative space, if that makes sense. I learned much about feminism from watching women in the world. I so long for a world in which women everywhere are no longer taught to link shame and sexuality.