image credit: nnedi

I was having a confab with my editor Shiku Ngigi and I was telling her that I’m writing a short novel, about 28 chapters and I want to launch it exclusively on Kisauti. She asked me what it was about and I told her the underlying themes were love, drugs and depression, but characters are not plaudits of people, they decide their own plot and the novel soon became about love, infidelity, drugs, conflict of interest and vengeance. I told her I wanted to launch it as an e-book on Kisauti and she asked me if it had been done before and I told her a lot of the case studies were European and the only Kenyan study I could think of was Kaluhi of Kaluhi’s Kitchen. The only difference is, she’s a food blogger so it was still uncharted waters but I told her I have never had a problem with being the first one to do something.

Her distress was that I would drop the book and the pdf would be circulated on emails like a bottle opener at a party. I wanted to tell her that my readers are not like that. They go to church every Sunday and they give their tithe even though they can’t really see where the tithe is going to. They remember their partner’s anniversaries and when they haven’t been home for a while they make sure to carry a paper bag of shopping on their next visit. They say a short pray when they wake up in the morning to thank God for allowing them to see a new day and to ask him to see them through it and keep them from temptations. So I doubt they’d get the book and circulate it on email.

I threw my entire weight behind this book, knowing that even as I work on my main novel, it will go down as my first complete body of work. It flowed easily and the plot was so gripping that I often found myself staying up all night penning it, sometimes remembering there was a semicolon or a full stop I needed to add when in the kitchen preparing something to eat. And like a young mother bolting to tend to her distressed child, I found myself rushing back in full-speed to attend to the manuscript.

Pulitzer Prize winning author Anne Tyler is quoted saying that her family can always tell when she’s well into a novel because the meals get very crummy. Well, my meals not only got crummy they stayed uncooked and when they got cooked they went frozen cold, untouched on the table, because there was no one to attend to them. (Writing a novel it seems is a surefire way to keep fit and cut on food budgets) On Sunday, I started working on the manuscript at seven in the morning and lifted my head from my laptop at two in the afternoon. I would like to think I held the characters hands and taught them things but it was quite the opposite. The characters are the ones who held my hand and took me on an adventure full of lessons.

The novel is written to be a gripping read. I have developed it in an intensely pacey way. With that sexy prose that you guys can’t get enough of and a plot that makes you burn to know what is happening on the next chapter and the next chapter after that. I like to think of it as a machine gun read, full of entertainment and wise anecdotes. It’s like a glass of cold orange juice on a sunny day that you drink in one long gulp or savor and drink in tiny sips so it can last a bit longer. But enough of tooting my own trumpet. I sort of feel as if the trumpet is now clogged to the brim with my saliva. I will let you guys be the judges of it.

We’re in the process of editing it. Working on the book cover concepts and formatting the e-book so that it can be a breeze to read. I thought this would be the easy part after I finished penning it but it turns out editing huge amounts of words is no walk in the park, and coming up with an arresting book cover that appeals to the eye and speaks to the plot is also not an easy thing. I don’t want it to have a KIE type of cover, a cover that serves to remind you of curriculum, no. I want an exciting cover, a cover that gives you a glimpse of the rollercoaster the book promises. A cover that whispers a secret in your ear. A cover like chocolate or an intelligent woman with a good sense of humor and a stunning waistline. You know you shouldn’t but you have to—you must—kind of cover.

I don’t want to put something out here that is shoddily done. I want this to be as professionally done as possible. I’m hoping we can be done with the back office bit and it can drop in the first week of May. But guys, this one has to have a price tag attached to it because a lot of work has gone behind its creation. It’s going to go for KSH 300. I will do a short review of the book and drop the first three chapters of it when it launches so that you can decide if you want to go the entire nine yards. I will also drop the payment information then.

Lorrie Moore the author of A Gate at the Stairs says that a short story is a love affair and a novel is a marriage. The question then is, guys, are we ready to grow from the dating stage, to meeting each others families, to walking down the aisle and saying, “I do?”


Editor credit: Shiku Ngigi

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