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Jane Igharo: Exploring Romance Through the Lens of an Immigrant Caught Between Her Culture and Her Heart

Debut novelist Jane Igharo shares her experience writing and publishing Ties That Tether, why some immigrants forbid their children to marry outside their ethnicity, and more!

Jane Abieyuwa Igharo was born in Nigeria and immigrated to Canada at the age of 12. She has a journalism degree from the University of Toronto and works as a communications specialist in Ontario, Canada. When she isn't writing, she's watching "Homecoming" for the 100th time and trying to match Beyoncé's vocals to no avail.

Jane Igharo (photo credit: Borada Photography)

Jane Igharo (photo credit: Borada Photography)

(Women's Fiction or Romance? The differences and why they matter.)

In this post, Igharo shares her experience writing and publishing Ties That Tether, why some immigrants forbid their children to marry outside their ethnicity, and more!

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Name: Jane Igharo
Literary agent: Kevan Lyon
Title: Ties That Tether
Publisher: Berkley
Release date: September 29, 2020
Genre: Contemporary Romance

Elevator pitch for the book: A Nigerian woman promises her dying father she’ll marry a Nigerian man even after immigrating to Canada, but when she meets and falls for a man who is white, she’s caught between her family’s wishes and her own and tries to reconcile her identity as a Nigerian woman and her identity as an immigrant.

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What prompted you to write this book?

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 Azere, the main character.

How long did it take to go from idea to publication?

It took roughly four years, and the idea changed a lot. I received plenty of great feedback from agents who turned down the manuscript initially, friends who were kind enough to offer their time, critique partners who never shied away from the harsh truth, my Pitch Wars mentor, and my editor at Berkley. 

(6 writing group best practices.)

Sometimes, the changes were minor and required me to focus on the personal growth or personality of one character. Sometimes, the changes were major and required that I delete chapters or rearrange the structure of the entire book. Every change I made was definitely for the best.

Were there any surprises in the publishing process for this title?

This is my first book, and it was interesting to learn about all the moving parts in the publishing industry. An author does their job by writing a book, but there are so many other contributions from the editor, publicist, marketing manager, art director, and many others. 

jane_igharo_exploring_romance_through_the_lens_of_an_immigrant_caught_between_her_culture_and_her_heart

So much goes into publishing a book and making it a success, and for years, I’ve been oblivious to that. I’ve really enjoyed being exposed to this aspect of publishing.

Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?

Writing Ties that Tether gave me the opportunity to explore my experiences as an immigrant. It allowed me to take a closer look at myself and my family and to ask important questions and confront internal and external issues in a way I never had before. It was surprising how much I learned and grew from writing this book.

What do you hope readers will get out of your book?

Immigrants sometime forbid their children from dating or marrying someone outside their ethnicity. While people might label this as being prejudice, I wanted readers to understand this instead as fear. Moving to another country is exciting, but the possibility of losing one’s culture in their new environment can be frightening, and often, that’s the sole reason behind a parent forbidding their child from dating outside their ethnicity.

If you could share one piece of advice with other authors, what would it be?

It’s cliché, but don’t give up. And this doesn’t mean sending out loads of queries, no matter how many rejections you get. Not giving up can also mean exploring other ways to enhance your craft like taking writing workshops or classes, entering a mentorship program, studying the market, and reading more, especially in the genre you want to write in. 

Sometimes, it can also mean reevaluating your strategy to publication. And sometimes, not giving up can mean shelving a project and beginning a new one—no matter how hard that might be.

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