BETTY WAKIA: Why did you decide to call your recently published collection of poems, ‘Nanu Sina’?
CAROLINE EVARI: ‘Nanu Sina’ simply means ‘my words’. I chose this title because, as you read through the book, you will notice most of the poems are basically my own thoughts related to my personal experiences and observations.
BETTY: Can you tell us what sort of poems are in this book?
CAROLINE: The book is divided into four parts - Conflicts, Relationships, Hope and Family. In each, you will find poems that resonate with the theme. For example, under Conflict, you find poems that talk about war, doubt and fear and under Relationships there are poems about love and friendship.
BETTY: How did your environment and upbringing colour you’re writing?
CAROLINE: Both have had a huge impact on my writing. Growing up, I never openly shared my challenges with the people around me. Because most of the poems have been extracted from my Grades 11 and 12 school journals, they are basically my way of expressing my fear, disappointments, hopes and dreams for an envisioned future. My journal was a place for me to confide in, so I wrote and wrote without stopping because I found writing a way of relieving stress.
BETTY: Give us an interesting fun fact about the book.
CAROLINE: Most of the poems are a misrepresentation of who I am today. You will find me writing a lot of uplifting poems in contrast with what’s found in the book.
BETTY: How many drafts did your book go through before publication?
CAROLINE: This book went through five drafts.
BETTY: And how long did it take to write?
Caroline: Most of my poems were written in 2008-09 when I was in secondary school. I started compiling them electronically from 2014–15. So, it took me approximately 11 years.
BETTY: What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
CAROLINE: I don’t have a schedule for writing poetry. I write whenever a phrase or a sentence pops into my mind. I note it on a piece of paper or in a book. I might even open a separate word document and jot down thoughts throughout the day. I guess that’s the beauty of poetry, you don’t have to necessarily schedule a time to write.
BETTY: How did the book get published?
CAROLINE: I contacted Jordan Dean at JDT Publications and he helped me publish the book.
BETTY: Where do you get your information and ideas?
CAROLINE: The beauty about poetry is that you don’t really need to think hard about writing, you just need to use your emotions – it’s about using your full five senses. My inspiration comes from my surrounding and through observation. I write better when I can feel emotion and the book is made up of these expressions.
BETTY: How many books have you written? Which is your favorite and why?
CAROLINE: So far, I have written four books, this poetry collection and and three children’s books. The story books have been published by Library for All and, as an author, I contribute by writing stories which they pay for, develop into picture books and publish for distribution in the remote areas of Papua New Guinea. I am still waiting to hear if my other stories have been developed into picture books. My favorite book is ‘Zuki the Crocodile’ because that was my first children’s story that got accepted by Library for All and has been developed into a picture book. It’s also available on Amazon.
BETTY: Did publishing your first book change your process of writing?
CAROLINE: It gave me a whole new perspective on writing. I try to brainstorm around new topics or projects to work on and think about how I could develop myself at a more professional level.
BETTY: What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
CAROLINE: One surprising thing is the support I receive from friends and family members and the impact my writing has created. This is a driving force for me to do better.
BETTY: Do you hear from readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
CAROLINE: One reader was able to relate to the poems which also brought back to her a memory of a poem I had completely forgotten which I wrote and read at her brother’s funeral. A colleague of mine pointed out that most of the poems depict sorrow and grief and saw that was me expressing myself. He was very impressed with the book. Another colleague said her daughters seem to enjoy the poems and every night, before going to bed, they read at least two. She says they are now beginning to gain interest in poetry.
BETTY: Are there any current projects you’re undertaking?
CAROLINE: I have a good number of children’s stories I wrote for Library for All which they turned down after their reviewing process, so one of my major aim is try and work with an illustrator to develop them into picture books. Secondly, I have an incomplete pile of positive quotes, thoughts and poems which I am hoping to complete and publish. I do not have a timeline for this.
BETTY: How do you market and promote your books?
CAROLINE: My current platforms are Instagram, Facebook and Wordpress. I am also in the process of developing a media release to run on PNG Attitude. I am using Rashmii’s mentorship in this project and it has been good so far.
BETTY: Can you share with us the best way to reach you and where to learn more about your books?
BETTY: What other authors are you friends with and how do they help you become a better writer?
CAROLINE: Rashmii Amoah Bell since I connected with her through the My Walk to Equality Project until to date. Jordan Dean – since the day I followed him on Facebook. Baka Bina - whose kind words towards my work really motivated me to publish a book. I am also a member of writer groups on Facebook, this is where I learn and try to collaborate with other writers. I also follow other writers’ blogs and Instagram, this is how I learn.
BETTY: Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?
CAROLINE: I believe the best way to become better is to be determined to be better. And by being determined, you will begin to do things to improve yourself, such as doing research, approaching the right people, facing your fears and taking risks. Being determined also enables you to not stop until you have reached your goal.
BETTY: As a Papua New Guinean female writer and author what do you want to see and achieve in the next five to 10 years?
Caroline: Write more than 10 books and explore other genres. I see myself publishing more children’s story books. I would also like to see a ripple effect being created by this achievement and have a solid platform in place for forthcoming Papua New Guinean writers.
BETTY: What is your advice for women who want to publish their own book?
CAROLINE: Nothing must ever stop you from achieving your dream. The only way to be heard or be recognised is when you choose to rise above every circumstance and fight fiercely until you reach the frontline. It may never be easy for a woman, but what makes you think it’s easy for a man? Self-determination and discipline is the only difference.