It’s release week for Jane Igharo’s Ties that Tether! Below, Jane chats about inspiration, her favorite character and road to publishing.
Ties that Tether is your debut book! What was your experience like getting your book deal?
I wrote two books in two different genres—literary fiction and paranormal romance—before moving to contemporary romance. I learned a lot from those two novels that didn’t get published, and in 2017, I started writing my third novel, Ties that Tether. I knew Ties that Tether was something special, but I also knew that it wasn’t perfect. In 2018, I entered Pitch Wars—a mentorship program for writers—and was selected to be mentored by someone who completely understood my book. We worked together for four months. It was very intense. Once my my novel was in great shape, I queried agents. On the same day, a few agents asked to see the full manuscript, and by the next morning, I had an offer of representation from an agent who read my book within hours of me sending it. I was thrilled! I accepted her offer, and about a month later, I got a book deal with Berkley.
What was your journey to becoming a writer like?
When I was younger, I wanted to be a poet. Writing a novel wasn’t on my radar until I picked up a romance book from the library that I became obsessed with called Some Nerve by Jane Heller. Years later, after failing at two different genres, I suddenly remembered that book. With what I had already experienced as a young woman—falling in lust and then almost in love, dating men within and outside my ethnicity—it made sense to write a contemporary romance about a woman who looked like me and shared similar experiences. The timing felt right, the genre felt right.
I read on your website that you immigrated from Nigeria to Canada much like your protagonist Azere! How did your own background inspire Azere and Ties that Tether?
With what I had experienced as a Nigerian woman living in Canada—dealing with my identity as an immigrant, dating men within and outside my ethnicity, and dealing with my family’s expectations—I wanted to write a story about a woman who looked like me and shared similar experiences. Telling this story came very naturally because of the parallels between myself and my main character Azere.
Who was your favorite character to write (or a character who was difficult to write)?
My favorite character, and also the most difficult one to write, was Azere’s mother Itohan. She was a complex character and I think people can easily see her as the villain of the story, but once they truly understand where she’s coming from, they’ll see her in a new light. She’s also very bold and outspoken, and I really enjoyed writing that aspect of her character.
Your last five star read?
I recently read The Secret Lives of the Four Wives by Lola Shoneyin and it was an exceptional book. It was captivating, heart-breaking, thought-provoking, beautifully written, and incredibly funny. All the stars for that one.
Three words to describe what you’re writing next?
Unconventional family dynamics.