Beneath Ceaseless Skies Author Interview: Walter Dinjos

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beneath-ceaseless-skies-issue-191-coverWeightless Books interviews Walter Dinjos, author of “The Mama Mmiri” in Beneath Ceaseless Skies Issue 190.

Q: Your story “The Mama Mmiri” revolves around a teenaged boy and a water spirit. Have you ever seen a water spirit or felt like you’ve been in the presence of one?

Dinjos: Nigerians are a superstitious lot. It’s not uncommon to find a good fraction of us professing the existence of water spirits. When you, however, get down to asking what these spirits really are or look like, you begin to realise that our conviction is rooted in nothing but hearsay and blind faith.

Some may tell you that the spirits are the same as the regular mermaids you find in fairy tales, some others may claim they are goddesses, and others may say they are female water apparitions—you know, like ghosts, but more powerful. But you have to wonder which one it really is, and if you are anything like me, you must be practical about this.

It’s rumoured in Nigeria that if you should bend and look behind through your legs in an open market, you would see spirits floating in the midst of the crowd, and you would not survive the sight. I put that rumour to the test once, but here I still am.

So, no, I have not seen a water spirit, or any spirit at all, but I believe I have felt their presence—in my stories, of course.

Q: When did you first know you wanted to write?

Dinjos: I can’t say I knew I wanted to write when I was little, because reading and writing in English didn’t grow on me until 2010. And I’m not a native English speaker (you can understand my apathy as a boy). So, trust me, writing was hard, very hard, for me in the beginning. Now it’s just . . . hard.

Looking back and considering how tedious the journey has been, I find it funny that I embraced writing to raise money. I needed money to record some songs, and I imagined that writing a book was an easy way to it.

So I wrote a book, The Prospect, about illegal diamond mining in DR Congo and the forceful extraction of bone marrow from people immune to the dominant strain of HIV by the antagonist’s doctor in an attempt to cure the antagonist of the virus. It took me three months. Piece of cake, I thought—well, until the rejection letters started flying in. Fortunately, I had fallen in love with writing by then, and I couldn’t stop.

Q: You’ve published short stories and poetry. How do you decide whether something wants to be a short story or a poem?

Dinjos: It’s actually easy for me, since most of my poems are lyrics from my songs. I can literally sing my poems. If you take a look at my poem “My Maker,” you’d see it’s in song form, with verses and a repeating chorus.

Sometimes, I fear I’m incapable of writing poetry without a melody in my head, seeing as the few times I attempted writing poetry from scratch I ended up with short stories instead. In fact, “The Mama Mmiri” is one of these stories. I started it, along with my poem “The Diamond Fish,” as a prose poem, but it turned out to be longer than I expected.

Q: How do your singing and songwriting affect your other writing?

Dinjos: When writing, I tend to favour lyrical prose, and I think that’s because of my musical side. I can’t begin to tell you how hard I fight the urge to include music in my prose. Sometimes, though, to better understand the emotions my characters feel, I ask myself what kind of song this character would sing when faced with this plight or that plight. If I succeed in writing a song that exudes one character’s emotion at a point in my story, I tend to find that part of the story easier to write. It…just flows.

Q: What kind of challenges do you face in making time for your writing?

Dinjos: My writing and my studies at the Writers Bureau England are in sync, and I love that by writing my assignments I produce short stories, poems, and articles that I can submit to magazines. And since these are assignments, I enjoy the privilege of having my tutor look over them before I start making submissions.

My singing and songwriting are also very helpful. I found that when I’m stuck, singing or writing a song is a nice way to recuperate.

My day job is the only thorn on my writing life. I work from 7am to 6pm from Monday to Saturday in a place riddled with so much noise—the kind of noise that invades your thoughts. That’s what you get when you are into transportation and logistics in Nigeria, and this makes it difficult for me to think about writing at work.

When I finally return home, all I want to do is sleep, and that’s what I do, so that when I wake around 10pm, I’m able to give my writing all the attention it deserves until 2am when I go to sleep again.

Q: Do you have any upcoming projects you’re working on that you can share?

Walter DinjosDinjos: I do. Most of them are short stories, but one is a novel—A Hundred Lifetimes. The story revolves around reincarnation (trust me, it’s not what you think; so don’t take a second look at the title), a form of teleportation that requires a certain natural ray to be possible, and a society where the coalescence of magic and science has led to the cloning of the human soul.

Walter Dinjos is Nigerian, and he enjoys singing and songwriting as much as he does writing. In addition to Beneath Ceaseless Skies, his work has been accepted at Space & Time, Stupefying Stories, Literary Hatchet, and others. He is currently exploring means (both scientific and magical) of attaining immortality. You can find him online at

Beneath Ceaseless Skies, a three-time Hugo Award finalist and World Fantasy Award-winning online magazine publishing the best in literary adventure fantasy, is available DRM-free in single issues and as a 12-month subscription.

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