Free Author Interview: Paul Chika Emekwulu

Can you tell us a bit about yourself?  I am from Nigeria and I live in Norman, Oklahoma with my family.
What is your most recent work?  My most recent book is entitled, Mathematical Encounters.
What inspired you to write this book?  There are two reasons.  First, I do believe that some people have unique ways of exploring and investigating certain concepts (including mathematical concepts) that are of interest to them.  

Secondly, a promise I made to the US Embassy in Lagos, Nigeria.  The US Embassy in Nigeria asked me why I was petitioning for a United States non-immigrant  visa.  I told them that I was coming to the United States to explore a dream – publishing.  To me it looks like I had a contract with the embassy.  Mathematical Encounters represents the best work I have ever produced both professionally nd otherwise. With the publication of Mathematical Encounters, I felt like I did not disappoint the US embassy.  I kept my promise.
Tell us a little about Mathematical Encounters. What is it about?  Some school books are not written strictly in line with any traditional curriculum.  They fall into the category of supplemental materials.  The right supplemental materials in mathematics are analogous to novels and other reading materials.  Novels, the language of expression notwithstanding, build language skills in the areas of vocabulary, reading and comprehension, spelling, grammar etc. Similarly, the right supplemental materials in mathematics build vocabulary, computational, language, reasoning and logical thinking skills. Mathematical Encounters for the Inquisitive Mind is a unique collection of articles I’ve written over the years under different circumstances and each has some dose of mathematical insights to the inquisitive mind.  The book can help students and the general reader to be logical in their approach to mathematics and life situations.
Why did you choose to write this particular book?  Every writer knowingly or unknowingly, through his or her writings reveals a part of himself or herself to the reading public.  Mathematical Encounters is a collection of different articles I wrote over the years at different times under different real circumstances and each has some dose of mathematical insights for the inquisitive mind. While on a famous American TV show one wintry morning of 2006, Steve Wonder was asked by the host why he has not produced any music recently.  In his usual manner of twisting his head from left to right, the 55 year-old replied, “You have to experience things in order to create music.”   Steve is right.  Creative writing, fiction or non-fiction, in many ways at times, is similar to creating music.  Like Steven Wonder, I feel the same way for most of the individual articles that make up this book.  For the various circumstances that led to the creation of these articles, I not only experienced most of them, I lived them as well. 
What type of readers would be interested in Mathematical Encounters?  Mathematical Encounters for the Inquisitive Mind has something for everyone. It doesn’t matter whether you are in high school or college.  Even the general reader has something to benefit from the book.  We all have inquisitive minds. Nobody stops learning.
What is special about Mathematical Encounters?  It is unique.  It is unusual.  When you pick up a book by the title, you have an expectation of what  the book will look like.  This is not so with Mathematical Encounters. When one scans through the table of contents, the book looks like an English novel  but not in its entirely. 
What differentiates it from other books in the same category?  Mathematical Encounters is unique.  It is different in many aspects. It is not written strictly in line with any particular curriculum but that does not take anything away from its relevance.  You have to really read the book to know the difference
Do you write during the day, at night or whenever you can sneak a few minutes?  You gave me three options:  day, night or whenever I can sneak a few minutes.  I will say all of the above.  I write anywhere and anytime.  I don’t really have a special place or time where or when I do my writings.  One of my book chapters was completed when I was at a detention center having been remanded in custody by the US Immigration and Naturalization Services for an expired visa.
Is there a central message you will like readers to take away from the book?  The mystery of the sewing machine was discovered in a dream.  Through a dream experience, James Watt invented ball- bearings . Through a dream, the periodic table of elements (arrangement of elements according to their physical and chemical properties) was discovered by a Russian scientist named Dmiri  Mendeleyev.  Your dream could be the source of the next invention.  Don’t take your dreams for granted.  Keep a dream journal. 
Are you working on your next book? If yes, can you tell us about it?  Yes, I am, Actually I am working on two books now.  One  is tentatively titled, Mathematical Explorations.    Mathematical Explorations is all about odd, even, Fibonacci, triangular numbers and Lucas numbers  while the second one entitled, Mathematical ParadiseGetting to Know Triangular Numbers is about triangular numbers.
Odd numbers are numbers of the form: 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27…
Even numbers are numbers of the form: 0, 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24, 26, 28…
Fibonacci numbers are numbers of the form: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584 …
Triangular numbers are numbers of the form: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, 66, 78, 91, 105, 120, 136…
 Lucas numbers are numbers of the form: 1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 18, 29, 47, 76, 123…
 Have you started another book yet? If yes, what is it?  Yes, I have.  I am working on four titles.
Mathematical Explorations
Selected Dreams From My Dream Journal (Enhancing Your Creativity Through Dreams)
Mathematical Paradise Getting to Know Triangular Numbers
 Mathematical Paradise  Getting to Know Fibonacci Numbers
 What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing and publishing?  Write about what interests and inspires you.  I have a penchant for Fibonacci numbers.   I love to talk and write about triangular numbers as well.  I have a passion for these types of numbers and that is what I mostly write about.   In mathematics, these numbers are studied under what is known as number theory.
Where can readers learn about you and your books?
How can they contact you directly? or
Any final thoughts you’d like to share?  Write on what you know and what you are passionate about.
What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why? Never, never give up by Winston Churchill.  Because though giving up is an option,  it is not the best option, has never been and will never be.

Do you have a website and or blog where readers can find out more? Yes, I do and the address is:
Why and when did you begin writing? The first thing I have ever written and published  was an article in a student magazine when I was at Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, Imo state, Nigeria. It was an article on beauty which they say is in the eye of the beholder.  In this article, I looked at other things that could be beautiful other than the obvious.  Examples are well-behaved graph, innocent-looking sequence like the Fibonacci sequence or other  mathematical  patterns.  This little achievement (having an article published in a student publication) motivated me to do another article when I was a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC) at New Era College, Benin, Edo state of Nigeria.  This article was titled, “Teaching of Mathematics in Our Secondary Schools.”  It was published in the July 23, 1981 issue of The Nigerian Observer.  It was also published in the June 8, 1982 issue of The Renaissance, a state owned newspaper of the then defunct East Central State Government of Nigeria.  This became my ‘aha’ moment that led to bigger things including the writing and publication of Mathematical Encounters.  If anyone is interested in writing, start with a newspaper article.
 While a teacher in Nigeria, I self-published a math pamphlet which sold 100 copies in its first printing and 1000 copies in a second printing.  Shortly after I immigrated to the United States, where my fascination with writing and publishing led me to write my first full-fledged book, Magic of Numbers
What kind of advice or tips do you have for someone who wants to write and get published? Write about what interests you and inspires you.  Writing a book is the easy part while probably the most difficult part is marketing the book to the target audience for whom the book is intended.
Are there any other comments, advice or tips that you would give to beginning writers? Always keep writing materials with you.  Ideas can come to you at anytime, anywhere.  Such ideas need to be written down, otherwise,  if they come back later, the original flavor could be lost.
Where can people purchase your books? People can buy Mathematical Encounters at the following sites:
What do you do when you are not writing? When I am not writing, I am doing the following or some of them:
Watching favorite TV programs including The Oprah Winfrey Show (that was then).  American Idol with Jennifer Lopez, Randy Jackson, and Steve Tyler, Are You Smarter than a 5th Grader with Jeff FoxWorthy, Smart Travels (Europe) with Rudy & Rick Steve, Dancing with the Stars on ABC, ABC Evening News with Diane Sawyer
I surf the internet frequently researching for places where Mathematical Encounters is sold.  Through such research I discovered that Mathematical Encounters is listed on over 1,500 online bookstores including Waterstones, Powells, Abebooks, Bookhills Bookstore, Emporium Books, Books-A-Million, BookDepository, Take2, Google ebookstore, Half-Price, Debonair Bookstore, Akademika, Shuler Books & Music, Tattered Bookcover, Green Apple Books, McNally Jackson Books, Diesel  Books, Fireside Books, The American Book Center, Asia Books, Eslite Bookstore etc.
 What “Made It” moments have you experienced in life? When I first applied for an entry visa into the United States my application was denied.  It was rejected because the company inviting me did not explicitly state and agree to cover my expenses for the period of the visit.  I contacted them and told them what the US embassy said.  In less than three weeks, the president of the company sent a reply saying that the company would cover my expenses for the period of my visit. My visa was granted as soon as the letter was presented to the embassy.
On December 15, 1984, my visa expired and I became an illegal alien and eventually ended up having problems with US immigration.   I was detained at the Oklahoma City county jail for a period of 25 days before being transferred to Dallas.  From Dallas I was moved to Houston for immediate deportation to Nigeria.  Before the deportation arrangements could be completed, the deportation order was reversed.  Thank God today I am now a US citizen.
You are so fascinated with Fibonacci numbers and numbers of similar nature.  Why this fascination, Paul?  Yes, I am so fascinated about Fibonacci and triangular numbers.  There are reasons for that.
Some people may be asking: What are Fibonacci numbers.  What are triangular numbers? Further still, what are Lucas numbers? (discovered by Edourd Lucas who lived from 1842-1891).
Fibonacci numbers are numbers of the form: 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89, 144, 233, 377, 610, 987, 1597, 2584, x, y, x+y…
while triangular numbers are numbers of the form: 1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28, 36, 45, 55, 66, 78, 91, 105, 120, 136, 153, 191…
And Lucas numbers are numbers of the form: 1, 3, 4, 7, 11,18, 29, 47, 76, 123, 199. 322…
The three dots at the end means that the numbers continue indefinitely.  People do wonder why I am so fascinated with these numbers.  My friends do wonder.  My wife does wonder also.
Fascination with a History
My fascination with Fibonacci numbers has a history. I was exposed to this innocent-looking sequence called the Fibonacci sequence while I was a student at Alvan Ikoku College of Education, Owerri, Imo state, Nigeria by an American math professor, Mr. Edward Himes. Since then I have been exploring Fibonacci numbers on my own. My explorations have been very fascinating. I will surely share these with you. But first, let me say this.
I wish I had the language of a fine artist.  I wish I had the language of a musician.  I wish I had the language of a poet.  I wish I had all these different languages to fully express my excitement and fascination for this number sequence that has attracted the attention of amateur and professional mathematicians for centuries.
The Fibonacci sequence as it is called was discovered by an Italian mathematician, Filius Bonacci more than 800 years ago.
Self-Exploration of Fibonacci and Triangular Numbers
In my exploration, I found out that there is a relationship between Fibonacci numbers and triangular numbers. This relationship is in form of a formula. This then led me to explore with substantial success the formula for finding the:
nth term of the following:
(i) even-subscripted Fibonacci numbers {1, 3, 8, 21, 55…}
(ii) odd-subscripted Fibonacci numbers  {1, 2, 5, 13. 34…}
(iii) odd-subscripted triangular numbers  {1, 6, 15, 28,36…}
(iv) even-subscripted triangular numbers {3, 10, 21, 36, 55 …}
Summation strategy for first n terms of the following:
(i) Fibonacci numbers
(ii) even-subscripted Fibonacci numbers
(iii) odd-subscripted Fibonacci numbers
(iv)  triangular numbers {1, 3, 6, 10, 15, 21, 28…}
(vii) Lucas numbers {1, 3, 4, 7, 11, 18, 29, 47…}
 Is there anything you would like to add?
Thank you for having me.


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