Petra Okeke-Bestman grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, in a family of storytellers. Every night when she was little, her father told her folktales from his childhood, a tradition handed down from his parents and their own parents before them. Spellbound, Petra listened to stories about wisewomen and warriors, princesses and villains, and couldn’t wait to become herself a storyteller.
Petra wrote her first stories when she was six, weaving together characters from her father’s tales and her own vivid imagination. Believing that children’s books were written with very sharp pencils, as a six-year-old she spent hours painstakingly sharpening her pencils and then imitating the style of printed books as she wrote down her own stories.
Petra crafts fiction for adults and children. Her books paint vivid images of African traditions, modern immigration, conflicting cultures and personal courage.
With a Masters degree in social work, Petra has managed programs to help immigrant families adapt to life in Canada and low-income single parents become self-sufficient.
Petra lives in Calgary, Canada, where she enjoys spending time with her young nieces and nephew. In her spare time, Petra is a keen photographer, capturing the vibrant lake sunsets and majestic forests of her Canadian home.
Culinary spices are Petra’s passion, from guinea pepper and cubeb to tamarind and cloves. She collects and blends them, savouring their scents and flavours, filling her kitchen with the inspiring aromas of the world.