Tag Archives: Igboland

Ready for some great summer reading?

‘Igboland’ is a featured novel this week with my publisher Crooked Cat Books, alongside ‘The Calgary Chessman’ by Yvonne Marjot and ‘Breath of Africa’ by Jane Bwye. Click on the image below for more details and further links, or see below.

CCP featured books


Igboland cover5





The Writing Process

DSCN3955Thanks to Zanna Mackenzie for tagging me in The Writing Process Blog Hop. Read about Zanna’s writing process here.

At the end I’ll be tagging a few other authors, so please do follow those links to their blogs and interviews.

Click on any of the book covers below to purchase them or go to my webiste at www.jeffgardiner.com


What am I currently working on?

I’ve just finished a new YA novel, and now I’m writing a screenplay. This is an adaptation of somebody else’s novel, which is a new thing for me. It allows me to view the source material objectively and add my own interpretation. I’m working closely with the author, so she’ll let me know if I’m way off-beam. Adapting, as opposed to creating, is a different (but fun) activity, requiring a sense of self-discipline (as opposed to self-flagellation).

Igboland cover6

What makes my writing disctinctive?

I have books published in a number of genres, which is both good and bad. In artistic terms, I like to work in a variety of styles. I’ve written horror and slipstream stories; young adult fiction; romantic and contemporary novels, and non-fiction.  The reason why this might be bad is that it makes marketing my work very complicated. Perhaps I’d do better just to stick with one genre? On the other hand, I like to try my hand at different projects.

Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 1800-300dpi

Why do I write what I write?

Because I have to is the annoying and elusive answer. Writing has me by the throat now and won’t let go. The creative process is the most inspiring feeling. When I’m in the middle of something I get a kind of tunnel-vision, which is difficult to break from. It could be a form of self-indulgence, but I feel I understand that old cliche of being ‘in the zone’. It’s a great place to visit…


How does the writing process work?

I’ve been lucky enough to work part-time (as in a real job) for a few years now, so I have had two days a week to concentrate on my writing. Going part-time was like being given the gift of time. I think I used it well – although procrastination and distractions were always there to tempt me. I have four books published with two more to be released later this year, and two others completed, so I think I’m relatively prolific.

I also have a young(ish) family who are my pride and joy. Balancing my time between family, day-job and writing has been a struggle. I want to spend time with my kids, and when I don’t I feel guilty, so that’s something I’ve had to work on and improve. It means evenings and those few hours when the children are at clubs (dancing, gymnastics, Brownies) that I can steal some time to write.

A typical writing day will involve me taking the kids to school, then answering emails and doing some marketing on social network sites (something else I need to improve on). Once those admin-type tasks are done then I can settle in to the writing. If I’m in the middle of something I’ll check through what I did yesterday and then plan the next section before getting my head down. I don’t stick rigidly to word counts but 1000 words a day would be a basic minimum.  Then just before 3 o’clock I walk up the road to collect my kids.

ML Jeff2

What next?

I’ll continue to write novels (particularly YA) and am hoping to find success with screenplays too. I have lots and lots of plans and notes and scribblings and dreams. My big news is that I am able to give up the day job (for a while anyway) so the gift of more time has been granted to me. Now I must resist the urge to waste that time … (perhaps self-flagellation is the answer?)

A Glimpse of the Numinous

And now I’d like to tag the following authors. Please visit their blogs to read about their writing processes:

Ailsa Abraham

Sarah Louise Smith

Kemberlee Shortland: www.kemberlee.com

Tagged on a Blog Hop

Thanks to fellow Crooked Cat writer, Carol Hedges, author of Victorian crime novel, ‘Diamonds and Dust’, for tagging me on this Blog Hop. At the end of this interview I will be tagging another brilliant author, Catriona King, whose DCI Craig detective thrillers are a must-read.

What am I working on?

Following on from ‘Myopia’, I am currently working on two more YA novels. One contains fantasy elements, although it’s set in the real world; slipstream fiction is the best description. This novel explores universal issues and themes. The other novel that I’ve finished uses football as a subject to examine themes such as bullying and family. It has a grandfather/grandson relationship, and involves some pathos but is ultimately uplifting. The message is something along the lines of: ‘Never give up. Stay focussed and determined if you hope to realise your potential’.

myopia cover 1

How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My YA novels involve a good deal of realism. As a teacher for over twenty years, I feel I can write about school and teenagers with a great deal of realism. My other novels are more adult-orientated. ‘Treading On Dreams’ is a coming of age tale about obsession and unrequited love; ‘Igboland’ is the story of Lydia, an English woman living in West Africa during the Biafran War. Her own marriage and faith are beginning to crumble when she meets Igbo doctor, Kwemto, and learns a great deal about herself.

My fiction stretches across genre boundaries, breaks a few rules and expectations. I tend to believe in good writing whatever the genre, rather than sticking to one type of narrative or setting. My short story collection, ‘A Glimpse of the Numinous’, is a booksellers’ nightmare as it contains horror, humour and romance.

Glimpse of the Numinous Prototype

Why do I write what I do?

I write because my head is full of stories and images that need an outlet, other than through me losing my marbles. Sometimes writing is a cathartic experience. ‘Igboland’ came out of my sentimental attachment to the country of my birth: Nigeria. ‘Myopia’ was a response to seeing the effects of bullying on sensitive students. ‘Treading On Dreams’ began as a narrative about a man who is overly sensitive and naive: traits not usually associated with being masculine. I write horror, humour and romance because people are not just one thing, but are complex beings full of hope, anger, light and shade.

Treading on Dreams by Jeff Gardiner - 1800-300dpi

How does your writing process work?

In practical terms I write two days a week, around my part-time job, and when I can find time. I also have kids, so it’s hard balancing all three aspects of my life.

Once I have a project on the go I am very focussed, and on a good day with few distractions, I can write 2000 words. Being a writer does not just involve writing, though. Marketing and publicity is an important aspect that takes up a huge amount of time – something non-writers might not fully appreciate.

I love the creativity of writing, but I also enjoy the discipline of editing and improving my work. That’s a skill which goes hand-in-hand with the creative process.

Igboland cover5

Now I’d like to tag Catriona King. The 6th book in her DCI Craig series, ‘The Slowest Cut’ is just out.

‘Igboland’: Book Group Questions

Igboland cover6 ‘Igboland’ is inspired by my Mum’s diary from when my parents lived out in Nigeria for six years during the Biafran War. Their story is very different to that of Lydia and Clem, but the anecdotes, photos, letters and journal helped me to make the setting and context as accurate as possible. The novel itself explores love, marriage, faith and personal identity. The characters respond to the traditions and culture they find themsleves part of and have some very difficult decisions to make.

  1. How important is it that the narrative voice is that of an English woman?

1102 in residence

  1. What does the novel have to say about female identity? Can a man really write a novel from a woman’s perspective?

1028 Judith Omafu

  1. How is Protestant Christian faith explored? How do you feel about Christian missionaries going to other countries?

1032a bucket baptism

  1. What do you feel you have learned about Igbo culture and ‘Odinani’? Does it have anything to teach us?

box 1117 Idoma juju

  1. How important is the cultural and geographical setting to the narrative? Have you ever experienced a culture shock? How did you feel?

1069 Old Zaria

  1. The Biafran War continues throughout the novel in the background. Simplistically put, it was a civil war between the northern Muslim states and the Igbos in the south. Is the war typical of any other war? Is it an integral part of the novel or not? Does it symbolise anything?

box 1088 road to Oturkpo


  1. How are the themes of marriage and family explored in ‘Igboland’? Is there a moral or message being offered, or is it left ambiguous?

box 1014 Idoma village


  1. Which of the characters are sympathetic or otherwise? What is their purpose in the novel? (Consider: Clem, Grace, Kwemto, Matthew, Mr Okadonye, Charlotte)

box 1066 Zonkwa station


  1. Is the ending satisfactory? What feelings did you have while reading the novel?

1025 Dispensary


10.  Do you have any questions you’d like to ask the author? (His table manners have improved slightly since this picture was taken)

1131b Jeff

I am keen to hear any feedback you may have from your discussions. Please add comments below and I’ll be happy to respond to any questions and thoughts you have.


IGBOLAND : The Diary of Janet Gardiner

IGBOLAND is a romantic novel of passion, conflict and adventure. While it is a work of fiction, it is inspired by the diary, photos and stories of my parents who lived out in Nigeria for six years.

Igboland cover5

My Mum’s diary is full of intriguing details and incidents, although it is important to note that IGBOLAND is a work of fiction with characters very different to my parents, Janet and Gerald Gardiner. Below is an extract from my Janet’s diary. The Igbo girl, Rachel, became the inspiration for the character Grace in IGBOLAND. Although Grace’s character experiences different challenges – the tone and the mood made a big impression on me, and I hoped to capture that same sense of suffering and hardship. Read the novel to see how I went from this, to the story of Grace.


3rd December 1967

“Gerald took us up to Oturkpo hospital to visit an Igbo girl. She must have been brought up from the east for treatment (a caesarean operation). She was a pitiful sight, trembling and in a completely confused state; she must only be around 18. It must feel awful for her with a new baby (a tiny sweet little thing – pinkish brown) and in enemy territory, separated from home and family. People treat her kindly although the nurses don’t seem to do much for her – she is unkempt and looks a mess. There are flies everywhere in the ward. It tears your heart out to see her. She wants to go home, but the doctor won’t allow her to be moved as she is too ill and weak. She wept when Gerald read her some letters from her family.

1025a  Mother&child

10th December 1967

“The war continues with heavy fighting still at Nsukka, Enugu and places along the border – casualties are heavy on both sides. The turnover of wounded soldiers in the hospital is very speedy. One soldier proudly showed us the ‘Biafran’ bullet which was removed from his shoulder – a souvenir. The Igbo girl, whose name is Rachel, is making little progress. Hospital patients out here are fed by their relatives, so the only food this girl gets is what we take. Her hair had to be shaved off it was such a mess, so we gave her material to make a head square. Her husband has been killed and no-one knows whether her father is okay or not.”

box 1023 Dispensary

3rd January 1968

“General Gowon announced a new and large campaign to be launched against Biafra unless they accept a settlement on federal terms.”

13th January 1968

“Rachel has been transferred to Ikache to be looked after by the Dutch nurses. She is worried about her family and her father, whom she believes has been killed. Poor, sad girl, she seems to have no will to live even though her baby is getting stronger.”

14th January 1968

“Rachel, the Igbo girl, has died. Her operation wound never healed. Someone is going to try to get the baby to her family in Biafra. We are going to spend the money we got from mum and dad on the baby.”

1025 Dispensary

Jeff’s Website: http://jeffgardiner.com/

Amazon UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Igboland-Jeff-Gardiner-ebook/dp/B00IGQPG1S/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1392887194&sr=1-1

Amazon US: http://www.amazon.com/Igboland-Jeff-Gardiner-ebook/dp/B00IGQPG1S/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395168674&sr=1-1&keywords=igboland

Crooked Cat Books: http://www.crookedcatbooks.com/index.php?route=product/product&product_id=126

Igboland cover6


NIGERIA in the 1960s

My novel ‘IGBOLAND’ is inspired by the photos and tales of my Mum and Dad, and by my Mum’s diary from their six years living in the Nigerian bush. I was born out there in Jos in the middle of the Nigerian Civil War.

Igboland cover5

My Dad, Gerald Gardiner, was a Methodist missionary out in Idoma. My Mum, Janet Gardiner, was a young,  newly married wife.

1053 J with manse cat

1054 G  with canna lilies

They lived in a bush village called Iga; the only white residents for many miles. Even in the 1960s, they still encountered people who had not seen white folk before.

1015 Iga village

1063b Market Rd

My Mum felt she could offer a little help by opening a tiny dispensary to help with simple medical complaints.

1025 Dispensary

Dad helped run local schools, churches and teacher training colleges. School buildings and resources were vey basic.

1042a bush school

My parents always commented on how friendly, welcoming and happy the villagers were. They were always welcomed, spoiled and treated with the utmost respect. Even though the Nigerian folk had little in terms of possessions, they would often give gifts of yams, chickens or fruit

1037 Village Methodists

Below is a picture of the village elders.

1115a village elders

The road were treacherous and often just muddy rutted paths. If Mum and Dad’s Beetle ever broke down, locals would appear magically from the bush to help out.

1078a crossing the stream

Mum and Dad are still in touch with the Omafu family out in Nigeria, who run a maternity clinic, supported by kind donations from my parents.

1027 Omafu's family

I felt I should end with a photo of myself out in Nigeria. Here goes:

1131b Jeff

An early shot of Jeff Gardiner, author of ‘IGBOLAND’, a novel of passion and conflict inspired by my parents’ years in West Africa.

To find out more about ‘IGBOLAND’ ‘like’ my Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Igboland/595879100465696

To buy a copy of ‘IGBOLAND’ click on the cover image below.

Igboland cover6


Igboland cover5My novel, IGBOLAND, is inspired by the photos, diaries and stories of my Mum and Dad, Janet and Gerald. They lived in the Nigerian bush for six years as missionaries, during the Biafran War. They faced many difficulties and hardships, but remember their time with great joy; for them it was a life -changing experience as a young couple. I was born out in Nigeria (in Jos), and my parents brought up two children with relatively few resources.

Below is a selection of some photographs from their time out there – taken between 1964-70.

1037 Village MethodistsA friendly welcome from the brightly-dressed local villagers.

1053 J with manse catMum and the pet cat – mainly kept to catch mice and rats.

box 1021 FrangipaniDad admiring the frangipani blossom. Plants grew very quickly and dramatically in the West African climate.

1080 Usha bridgeMy parents’ VW Beetle attempting to cross another precarious bridge. Most of the roads were dirt tracks, which after rain just became mud pits.

1127 specsA vital resource during the long dry seasons. The eagle-eyed among you might spot my brother – Trevor.

1133 JeffyThis is me, looking very determined (not to mention cross-eyed!). Proud to be born in Nigeria.

IGBOLAND is a tale of passion and conflict set in Nigeria in the 1960s. It is not the story of my parents, but a work of fiction using the context of my Mum’s diaries, and extensive research into Igbo culture and beliefs.

To purchase a copy visit my website: jeffgardiner.com/

or click on this cover imagecropped-igboland-cover6.jpg


The IGBOLAND BLOG TOUR is underway. I’ll be visiting a number of other author’s blogs and posting extracts and information about my novel IGBOLAND. I’ll also be including pgotographs from Nigeria in the 1960s and explaining how the novel was inspired by the experiences of my own parents who lived in Nigeria for six years. During their time there I was born in Jos, and to this day I consider Nigeria my spiritual home.

Igboland cover5

Please visit and like this facebook page set up especially for news about the novel:  https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Igboland/595879100465696

Blog Itinerary and links:

  1. Tim Taylor’s blog: http://www.tetaylor.co.uk/#!blog/c1pz
  2. Jane Bwye’s blog: http://jbwye.com/2014/02/25/want-to-see-whats-underneath-the-cover/
  3. Nancy Jardine’s blog: http://nancyjardine.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/come-fly-with-with-me-to-fascinating.html
  4. Ailsa Abraham’s blog: http://ailsaabraham.com/2014/03/01/igboland-by-jeff-gardiner/comment-page-1/
  5. Miriam Drori’s blog:  http://miriamdrori.com/2014/03/03/igboland/#comments
  6. Cathie Dunn’s blog: http://cathiedunn.blogspot.co.uk/2014/03/author-jeff-gardiner-introduces-new.html
  7. Sarah Louise Smith’s blog – Sunday 9th March
  8. Shani Struther’s blog – 10th March
  9. Frances di Plino’s blog – 15th March
  10. Catriona King’s blog – 19th March
  11. Elizabeth Delisi’s blog – 28th March

IGBOLAND – Published Today

My novel, IGBOLAND, is out today; published by Crooked Cat. untitled

It’s a tale of passion and conflict, set in Nigeria during the Biafran War.

(Click on the cover image below to purchase your copy)

Igboland cover5

The novel was inspired by my parents, who lived out in Nigeria for six years. I was born in Jos and consider Nigeria to be my ‘spiritual home’.

Here’s a photo of one of the houses my parents lived in:

1017 Manse

This next one is the village of Iga as it looked in the late 1960s:

1015 Iga village

Over the next few posts on this blog, I will be giving more information and posting more pictures of life in Nigeria in the 1960s.

Thanks to my Mum and Dad – Janet and Gerald.