BY THE BOOK: The villager who writes
- When I was a columnist for Daily Nation for seven years, I learned how to deal with negative reviews; never take them personal.
- My preference, being old school, is hard copies. I love the smell of books.
- I love it when I am reading in bed and I doze off and a book slumps on my face, as if to say ‘read on, I am not done with you.’
You probably know her from her witty articles published on Daily Nation newspaper where she was a columnist for seven years.
Ciku Kimani Mwaniki describes herself as mainly a housewife who writes.
Her latest book, Immigrant Cocktail just hit the market. It is a fictitious story based on the lives of Kenyan immigrants living in the United Kingdom. This is her second cocktail book following the Nairobi Cocktail which was published in 2014.
Besides writing, Ciku Kimani is also an aspiring farmer with a muse for what she calls “the village life”, which also inspires her blog, The villager.
What are the three most memorable books from your childhood? Why?
Growing up, I read so many James Hadley Chase, Mills & Boon and Silhouette and Nancy Drew books; it is difficult to pinpoint one particular book that is most memorable.
However, I do remember reading After 4.30 by David Maillu in my early teens and I felt so sinful. All the aforementioned books were read illegally – stolen from my older siblings and read in hiding.
How many books on average do you read in a year?
Before I became a mother, I would read at least five books a month. Now, I am lucky if I finish reading one book in a month. I feel deprived.
Have you ever encountered a book that failed to meet your expectation?
The Fifty Shades written by EL James really disappointed me. I never went past chapter two which for me shows how hype can work on people’s psyche.
Which are your two most treasured books and why? Would you lend them out?
Nick Hornby’s About a Boy. Whenever I feel uninspired, I pull it out of the shelf. I must have read it at least 10 times.
The second one is Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet. It was given to me by a very special friend and the wisdom in it is overwhelming. The two books cannot and must not leave my house.
If you had the opportunity to meet three authors, dead or alive, who would they be and why?
Kahlil Gibran, just to confirm he is that wise. I would also love to meet David Maillu and ask him, ‘what were you thinking?’ Finally—this may come as a surprise because I never really got around to finishing his book and I also don’t like gory—Stephen King. I would like to see if he is freaky.
In your opinion, is writer’s block an actual challenge faced by writers or it an excuse for procrastination?
How about both? Sometimes—a lot of times—I have this staring competition with my laptop. I want to write, but there is no coordination between the brain and the fingers. Other times, I am just too lazy to write, and I say to myself ‘writer’s block is real.’ Pure procrastination.
Have you ever had a bad review for your work? What did it say and how did you deal with it?
It has only been two books, and the second one yet to be reviewed; I am waiting with bated breath.
I did not have extremely negative reviews in my first book, that’s a good thing, I guess. But when I was a columnist for Daily Nation for seven years, I learned how to deal with negative reviews. Never take them personal, instead take them as something to improve on. Besides, it would be unrealistic to expect everybody to like what you do.
What are your thoughts on society’s reading culture today in the face of popular culture: internet, technology?
Social media is awesome; it has allowed some of us to advertise ourselves for free. However, it has made people get used to reading short texts and anything longer than a page equivalent seems too long for many people. No wonder the term ‘long post alert’ is acceptable.
E-books versus hard copies, what is your preference and why?
I am still in denial that people actually enjoy e-books, but I appreciate that times have changed. My preference, being old school, is hard copies.
I love to feel a book, I love the smell of books; new and old. I love it when I am reading in bed and I doze off and a book slumps on my face, as if to say ‘read on, I am not done with you.’ There is too much ‘gadgeting’ around, anything that does not involve gadgets is a welcome for me.
What are you currently reading?
Drunk by Jackson Biko