* you can find the original interviews and much more on my 'everything writing' blog (http://morgenbailey.wordpress.com), including author spotlights, guest posts, book reviews, flash fiction or poetry - new items posted 6am UK time Monday to Saturday and writing exercises at 6pm very weekday.
Tuesday, 14 August 2012
Author interview no.223: Akinyi Princess of K’Orinda Yimbo (revisited)
Back in December 2011, I interviewed author Akinyi Princess of K'Orinda Yimbo for my WordPress blog. I hope you enjoy it...
Welcome to the two hundred and twenty-third of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with Akinyi Princess of K'Orinda Yimbo. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Akinyi. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Akinyi: I don’t remember the exact point in time when I decided to be a writer. From Mum’s belly or so. But I remember the subsequent when and why. I was in my preparatory school in Yorkshire and my English teacher asked the class to write a detective story about a towel missing from one of the dorms. So I said to myself (age 11 or thereabouts), “All right, Watson, let’s get down to work.” I named my detective Skylark Homes. And ended up with red marks and crossings all over my story – for the simple fact that I kept on writing: And the dick asked… The witness told the dick… The thief, after the dick had caught her red-handed… Finally the dick… I thought I was being really creative and so cool, with that diminutive. Not so my English teacher! I soon found out what other meanings are attached to that four-letter word.
Morgen: Now that in itself would make a funny story. :) What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Akinyi: In fiction I’m really fond of the contemporary literary women’s with psychological insights. I’ve just written my first crime / suspense work which is being “handled” at the moment. The African element is always present in all my stories. No, no, I don’t have blonde heroines being bitten by poisonous snakes or catching malaria while trying to teach the Khoi-San of the Kalahari Desert how to utilise the post office. But a lot of my own makeup which is African-European or Western (you can’t escape that sort of nature when you’re placed in an English boarding school at age nine, being groomed into a hybrid English African aristocrat) are endemic in my writing. I’m a child of both cultures, so I’m more into relationships standing the test of cultural clashes. How the couple and their children (who tend to be affected by their being “neither nor” from the earliest stages of their development, especially following contact with the world outside their home) do or don’t overcome their unique problems. Recently, I had such a positive rejection from an editor at Penguin who was kind enough to read four of my works. I thanked the editor for spending all that time reading my stuff, and actually posted this killer rejection on the ’Net and earned a lot of support from some forum members, urging me to keep on reaching for the stars. I’ve thought about the romance genre and actually sent excerpts to Harlequin M&B. They told me to concentrate on the emotional conflict and the steamy bits rather than cultural aspects and their psychological nuances. I suppose I’ll give it a try. Some day soon, hopefully.
My non-fiction writing, such as the book Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A Critical Observation of Neighbouring Continents, is also inundated with “Africa and the rest of the world” in terms of history, cultures, modern politics, the women of Africa and socio-economic issues.
Morgen: It’s great that you’ve been getting such specific feedback, that in itself, when editors these days barely have time for form rejections, must say something about your writing. What have you had published to-date? If applicable, can you remember where you saw your first books on the shelves?
Akinyi: I’ve published two novels in English and German. I saw my first book on the shelves of Nuremberg’s Hugendübel, Germany’s largest book retailer, after my agent said the book was out in bookshops. Most people ask me how I felt, seeing my name on a book or my work in print. It wasn’t really unique because I’d been (still is) a columnist with magazines and newspapers in Europe and Africa. I got that special thrill decades before, when my article first appeared in my school rag.
Morgen: Have you ever seen a member of the public reading your book?
Akinyi: No, I haven’t had the pleasure yet. Maybe I should go out there with Watson and a magnifying glass.
Morgen: :) How much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Akinyi: This is where I’m most frustrated. I do my best in my website and monthly newsletter, I organise local readings and book-signings. But I’m a techno-ignoramus when it comes to the so-called social media networks. I do have some presence there and my fair share of followers and fans, but one needs to invest so much time in these networks daily because whatever you post has such a short lifespan. Shorter than short. So one has to be a techno geek or hire one – which is an expensive route to take unless your name is Brown, Cornwell, Grisham or Patterson. I also started a couple of blogs but found that I had very little time to take care of them, and that, for a blog, is worse than having none at all. I cringe when I think of how many readers have called me names when they check for new postings for weeks and months and find only the same old same old. My sincere apologies!
Morgen: That’s the thing about blogging; you have to keep putting new content on. This is why I’m so grateful to people like yourself who are willing to share their experiences on here. I had another blog (a Blogspot) for a couple of years but posted one item a year and had 371 visitors in all that time – you get out what you put in. It’s time-consuming but I’ve met over 200 wonderful people so to me it’s worth every late night / early morning. :) Have you won or been shortlisted in any competitions and do you think they help with a writer’s success?
Akinyi: Again, no. With all my other engagements in lectures and coaching, I simply don’t have the time to write for competitions although each relevant year I keep promising myself that I’ll submit something for the Commonwealth Writers Caine Prize. But I definitely believe that winning or being short-listed does help tremendously. The best I’ve come close to something like that was when I had my German novel, Khiras Traum, was twice chosen as Book of The Month in the print press in Zurich and Berlin.
Morgen: Zurich and Berlin is hardly chicken feed… well done. :) Do you write under a pseudonym? If so why and do you think it makes a difference?
Akinyi: No, I don’t, although you’d think I would since my name is such a mouthful. I think I’d feel funny with a pseudonym. Like telling my own baby a false name. But I do believe it might make a difference. Writers have been using pseudonyms for centuries – women using men’s names and vice versa. Or just choosing something that had a ring to it most people wouldn’t forget. Perhaps I should try Dame Jah-Jah or Afria Cool.
Morgen: They would certainly be equally memorable. :) I think they’re very useful for people with ordinary names (although, as you say, Dan Brown doesn’t do badly). You mentioned having an agent, do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Akinyi: I had a German agent. I’m still trying for an agent in the UK or USA. But I also simply get a little cheeky sometimes, sort of get this childish itch to dare, ignore the “unsolicited” bit and send queries with samples to editors of publishing houses. That’s how I finally got four works read at Penguin.
Morgen: I guess if you don’t try, you’ll never know and in your case it got feedback you wouldn’t have had otherwise. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Akinyi: Two of my books, Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A Critical Observation of Neighboring Continents (Algora.com) and the novel Bound To Tradition (Lulu.com) are available as ebooks. According to what I come across in the ’Net from both Indies and ebook publishers, ebook publishing is a very lucrative avenue. I’m yet to experience that. But I’m considering whether I should have my romance Secret Shades of Fading Blood and first crime suspense Wicked Wealth as ebooks. Bound To Tradition is the story of a half orphaned girl who grows up sheltered in a strictly conservative Luo society in Kenya. But when she is sent to a British boarding school for girls, she first gets exposed to the modern world she takes to instantly. But with her “Mesozoicians” back in Luoland she is forced to live a double life: the modern girl at St Mary’s and the “maiden of good breeding” during exeats and school holidays. When she finally meets Erik, a Swedish industrialist who wants to adopt her, she decides that she wants his name, but definitely not as his daughter.
Secret Shades of Fading Blood is the story of the stunning Helena, daughter of a British aristocrat mother and a Greek Cypriot. But Helena has a secret she hides even from herself – ever since she found out that she’d actually been abandoned in a convent before her parents adopted the 3-day-old baby. When she finally falls in love with the delightfully masculine Ramón Ruíz de Alarcón, her secret is in the way of her happiness. But there’s a happy end. In Wicked Wealth, set in Germany, a Czech call girl is murdered and the last person to see her minutes before she’s killed is Ben, a Nigerian asylum seeker with an Ivory Coast passport. So Ben is arrested…
Morgen: My goodness, what a plot. :) What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
Akinyi: Every success in one’s endeavours is a thrill. The human condition, to grab a cliché. My first acceptance was by Droemer-Knaur of Munich, member of the Holtzbrink Group, for Khiras Traum. I was thrilled, heavens was I thrilled. Even more so when I showed my girlfriend the contract and she said, “You’re certainly starting off with a Mercedes!” – because the Holtzbrink Group is one of the top 5 publishers worldwide. It is still a thrill to be accepted, but nothing near that first time.
Morgen: Until the next Mercedes… or Rolls Royce. :) Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Akinyi: By the container shiploads, what with my bad habit of butting in unsolicited. But the upside, at least for me, is that the more rejections the thicker the skin. My pet peeves here are editors or agents who ask for the full MS after the query, then come back six months later with a rejection. That tends to send me rummaging for a bottle from the cellar. Then I tell myself: What the deuce, you also read that Booker Prize winner and wondered why on earth they got the prize. You’ll meet the right one for you soon enough. If they comment on the work I do consider those seriously. But it’s up to me to decide whether to follow that or not. I simply follow my inner voice. That’s the person I truly write for.
Morgen: Absolutely. It’s all about finding the right thing for the right person, at the right time… easy. :) What are you working on at the moment / next?
Akinyi: Two works being multitasked currently: A non-fiction Images of Africa and the sequel to Bound To Tradition. The working title is The Separation. Khira and Erik are thirteen years deep in their marriage when Khira suddenly reverts back to her Luo traditions and has their only daughter, not yet twelve, “initiated into womanhood.” Nothing to do with FGM. The women of Luoland still follow an ancient ritual of rites of passage for girls to ascend from girlhood into “deityhood”. Khira does this behind Erik’s back and when the daughter seems to be on the brink of death because of potions she’d been made to drink at the initiation, Erik sees red and hits Khira, sending her cracking her head on the wall. As a result she is comatose and he’s plagued with remorse. Besides, he could be charged with attempted murder or manslaughter if Khira dies, one. And two, he doesn’t know how to explain to his children – aged between 9 and 10 – just who sent mum into her “deep sleep”. A dilemma, a family tragedy.
Morgen: You sound very productive, do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Akinyi: Not really, partly because of my other engagements. The most I’ve ever bashed out in a day was about 1,500 words, complete with editing. I tend to edit each finished chapter, and then edit again during revisions.
Morgen: Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Akinyi: The Block, right. Part of the creative writer’s life. The artist’s life. I don’t bother with curing it. I use the opportunity to at last grab that wonderful book I haven’t had the time to read. The trouble is, when the book is an unputdownable, then I let my work languish while I read. But often I also find good passages that inspire me, switch the bulb in my head on, so I jot down stuff I think I could integrate in my writing.
Morgen: With such elaborate plots, where do you get your inspiration from?
Akinyi: Apart from reading, another inspirational habit for me is a long, lonely walk in the woods. Luckily I live in Franconia, Bavaria, where there are unbelievable stretches of forests almost as virginal as in the tales of the Grimms.
Morgen: :) I have friends in the Black Forest and have been many times, it’s amazing. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Akinyi: That’s a good question. I really tend to run with it. Take Secret Shades of Fading Blood, for example. I had a dream about an old boarding school mate of mine who became my rival and actually got away with the beau – a true occurrence. But in my dream the beau had a cousin and I was ready to settle for second choice, yet Second Choice too, was running off to chase after my mate. Hence the triangle of Helena, Ramón and cousin Enrique Ruíz de Alarcón in Secret Shades of Fading Blood. The dream was the bone, I added in the flesh and blood as I went along. Also, in Bound To Tradition, there’re chunks of autobiographical stuff in there.
Morgen: Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Akinyi: I must admit that I’m a bad organiser. I give random names to my characters – but these characters have traits of people I know, have met or merely seen across the foyer of the opera or browsing in a bookshop. It’s easier with the people I don’t know because I give them names I’ve associated with them in that stolen glimpse in the foyer or the accidental bump-smile-sorry while entering the train. With those I know, I use the character traits but give them other names, most likely names I would have given them had I had the job opportunity at their birth. But perhaps all this is some kind of methodology after all. Very organised.
Morgen: Do you write non-fiction? If so, how do you decide what to write about?
Akinyi: My non-fiction writing reflect my stance in the sociological world around me. It’s my political, humanitarian, cultural facts of I-Me-Myself as an individual identity observing and interpreting all around me: my likes and dislikes, my pains and aches, my dreams and wishes, my anger and wrath, my joys and sorrows, my utopia and dystopia. I criticise, praise, make suggestions and even quarrel with the world of human beings.
Morgen: How about poetry, do you write any? If so, do you have any idea why poetry is so popular and yet so poorly paid?
Akinyi: I’ve often asked myself, too, why poetry is paid so poorly. I think it’s because Hollywood can’t get Pitt, Cruise or Willis to interpret it on the silver screen. Nevertheless, I’m hopeless in poetry of any sort. All I manage is the occasional doggerel for birthdays or Xmas cards. The poet in the family is my son. I love reading his poems but… he tends to be so Wagnerian I start getting guilty. I’m more the jaunty Vivaldi. The lad can be so morbid at times I often consider renaming him Atlas. But he loves and is a genius at what he does and couldn’t be bothered about how much he earns from it.
Morgen: I write limericks for Facebook friends’ birthdays… my excuse to say that I write every day, although despite more friends than days in the year they sometimes arrive like buses. :) Do you write short stories? If so, apart from the word count, what do you see as the differences between them and novels and why do you think they’re so difficult to get published?
Akinyi: Short stories are not my turf. I can’t write them. The few times I tried, these were subplots from my full MSS. My guess is that they’re had to sell as complete books, so that a publisher has to have a collection to get the book. No more Sartre’s Black Orpheus these days. On the other hand they do sell well to the print media such as magazines. I’d suggest that the successful short story writer start with magazines and so on, then after a dozen or so published stories, try to offer this as a collection to a publisher. I really don’t know much about short stories.
Morgen: That’s OK. I think it’s great that we write different things. If we all wrote novels there would only be novels for people to buy. I know little about novels (the four I’ve written are still undergoing edits) and non-fiction other than writing articles about writing. :) Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Akinyi: Yes, I assist other emerging writers with their works on a voluntary basis with publishing companies. For example I’m an editor with several of these companies dedicated to assisting emerging writers especially writers from the developing countries. Apart from that I give speeches and lectures on African literature.
Morgen: Who is your first reader – who do you first show your work to?
Akinyi: I talk to my husband about each chapter as I write (I write in English, talk to him in Swedish) so that by the time the story is done he knows every bit of it. But I also share with online writing and critique groups. I’ve made some solid friendship with editors whom I often request to read my work, critique and advise me. I do regular consultations with professionals on psychology, health, pertinent police procedures and technical stuff. All these are always very valuable advice.
Morgen: My goodness; German, Swedish… I’m impressed. You mentioned editing earlier, do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Akinyi: The more one writes the better the writing. But I still do a lot of editing because the editing, too, is writing and keeps getting better with time and repetition. I don’t think I’ll ever stop editing and re-editing. Something new and shinier always leaps off the mind straight onto the page or pages. Often, I have to rein myself in or I’d end up with a biblical tome.
Morgen: :) How much research do you have to do for your writing? Have you ever received feedback from your readers?
Akinyi: Reader’s feedbacks, positive and negative (which is subjective), are valuable nuggets. I’ve had a couple of readers who even updated information I researched but was already out of date, especially in non-fiction. Statistics, for example, tend to fluctuate or change with amazing speed and consistency. In medical science, new medicaments come into the market, others have been upgraded to avoid side effects or enhanced in their healing effectiveness. I do elaborate researches, both online and from books by professionals and university papers. The best way, whatever the source, is to read several different authors on the subject. It’s also enriching to know and compare earlier opinions with new ones, or even ones still in the experimental stages, depending on the subject.
Morgen: What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Akinyi: Well, The Block tends to be a catalyst for my creativity, like it was a champagne bottle I’d been rattling like the devil and suddenly the cork pops off and everything comes spewing out in geysers. So fast I can hardly keep the flow with my typing speed. Other times it’s a dream or some passages in a book I’m reading that turns on the light and I say: Right, now there’s a thought, old girl! So what if… And off I go.
Morgen: I know that feeling. :) Do you write on paper or do you prefer a computer?
Akinyi: Heavens, I write all over the place, even on my palm with an eyebrow pencil!
Morgen: I’ve not done that yet but do have a small notebook in every dog-walking jacket. Some writers like quiet, others the noise of a coffee shop etc. Do you listen to music or have noise around you when you write or do you need silence?
Akinyi: Relative peace and something mellow in the background, that’s me. I inherited stacks of old great artists from my Mum, plus my own cherished collections. Cat Stevens, Ravi Shankar, OLD Elton John like I Need You To Turn To or The King Must Die, Neil Diamond (can’t beat Susanne Takes You Down, now, can ya?), George Harrison, Van Morrison… you get the wiggle. Music that’s worth the description from artists who were definitely artists. Classics do things for me too, some of my favourites being Grieg, Vivaldi, Ravel, Debussy and Sibelius. I avoid Wagner unless at the annual Bayreuther Festspiel where I have to go to accompany hubby.
Morgen: Out of those I’d pick Vivaldi for the vitality and agree Wagner can be quite heavy. My favourite is Eric Satie who most people have never heard of, although I do love Beethoven’s Moonlight Sonata, especially as it reminds me of my German friend playing it. :) What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
Akinyi: Third person, definitely. I like the freedom of being omniscient, flying all over my stories, being in Nairobi at the same time I’m in both New York and Stockholm. I slip indirectly into first person when my characters are having their inner dialogues, their emotions. Otherwise I leave first person to my narrative non-fiction writing.
Morgen: Do you use prologues / epilogues? What do you think of the use of them?
Akinyi: Yes, I do. Prologues can be very helpful in summing up the back story, while epilogues can round things off for the happy end if I don’t want to manually wring the story dry enough to iron out. On the other hand, a writer could easily and quickly kill their novel, by throwing in a huge lump of back story on their first pages. The reader can’t wait to plunge into the story so procrastinate at your own peril – the reader will put the book aside and pick up another one. Woe to you if the reader puts your book aside by taking it back to the bookshop and exchanging it with a book from another writer! Some clever writers also use some kind of excerpt, the core of the story, from somewhere in the middle of the book and make a prologue out of that to hook the reader. Both prologue and epilogue should, however, be used with great care.
Morgen: Absolutely. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Akinyi: Yes. But only if I don’t go back to them and tweak them squeaky, now that I know more about how to write and edit. But going over some of my first writings, I must admit, makes me talk to myself and blush to charcoal!
Morgen: Because they’re so outstandingly good. :) I have that pleasure to look forward to. A New Year job is going through my entire content and seeing what I can edit and send to my editor, Rachel. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Akinyi: Writing is like being a forester or being an expectant mother. You loosen the earth, plant the sapling, water it or pray for rain. Then one day you have a tree under whose shade you can have your picnic or on whose branches you can pluck the juicy fruit and eat it. A mother waits patiently for those 9 months, eating right, sleeping right, exercising right, avoiding whatever could endanger the coming baby until that final moment – and then she holds her breath one more time until she hears those lusty squeals, like that of a kid in the meadow. Rewarding altogether. So, for me, it’s a cycle – my favourite aspects inevitably involve my least favourite aspects and vice versa, continuously. Think of the symbolism of the wedding ring.
Morgen: What a lovely image. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Akinyi: The way writing seems to raise itself to higher and higher levels with each writing day!
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Akinyi: Don’t think of yourself as an “aspiring writer”, think of yourself as a passionate mountaineer; get all the very best equipment you need for the climb and start climbing, pausing when you have to (even if other fellow mountaineers are whipping ahead of you without a hitch), then continuing. Always look up at the summit and tell yourself it’s going nowhere, just hanging on out there waiting for you to reach it. Tick goals (distances) you’ve achieved and don’t agonise over the ones you set but failed to achieve. Instead set new, more realistic ones. You get fitter, wilier, climb higher, feel less exhausted or overwhelmed. Before you know it you’re at your summit. Now you know the lay of the land and can reach it every time, blindfolded.
Morgen: :) What do you like to read?
Akinyi: Obviously I read a lot of non-fiction as well as fiction. I like the thriller genre mostly, in fiction. And my favourite writers here are the older masters: Forsyth, le Carré, Eco and the genuine Ludlum. I find Grisham great because he’s not only a skilled writer, he’s also writing about what he professionally knows in and out. Writers like Brown or Meyer, in my opinion, are commercially made-bestsellers, not skilled artists. On the other hand I just discovered Tana French and I went: Heavens, can this lady write!
Morgen: I’ve not read any Dan Brown or Stephanie Meyer but have heard (from writers, mainly) that their writing isn’t great but I think from a reader’s point of view they tell a good story. Being picked up by publishers does help. Going off at a tangent now, is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Akinyi: My own. The summit is hanging on out there waiting for you to reach it however long it takes.
Morgen: Too true. If you have the determination and passion… What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks? :)
Akinyi: Typically I read. I also love cooking and inviting family and friends over for some serious hogging of African dishes. Party tricks? I do those regularly with my husband.
Morgen: :) Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Akinyi: For the mountaineers, I recommend http://authorme.com. Here they’ll find editors willing to go through their writing and give them advise. They can also publish their short stories (after the editors have had a look at it) or chapter by chapter MSS. AuthorMe.com is the only site I know of where you simply don’t just publish your writing or chapters by yourself, an editor looks at it before it’s published on the site by them.
Morgen: That sounds really good. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Akinyi: I live in Germany, write in British English. Many Germans read books in English but they prefer – who doesn’t? – reading in their own native language. That makes things like press releases, event organisation and all that, cumbersome and often not worth the bother. But with Khiras Traum I’ve toured schools, women’s organisations, colleges, book clubs and dozens of other venues all over Germany, Austria and Switzerland. Coming to my British English, when Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare, published by a New York publisher, was being edited by them, they changed my spellings and even turned my word “clandestinely” to “on the QT”. Of course I had no idea what the phrase meant until they told me.
Morgen: Surprisingly my German friend prefers to read English books and big, fat tomes like Ken Follett. All the birthday and Christmas presents I send her are rectangular. :) Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Akinyi: I’m on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. But as I mentioned, I’m a techno-ignoramus. I can’t do all those lovely things the true geeks do with their pages. My professional groups, especially on LinkedIn have been of enormous assistance. I tried forums in Authonomy.com where I have chapters posted, but I personally find that it is more a battlefield site, with people soliciting fellow members to comment or bookmark them and they’d do the same back. I believe this sort of reciprocal interaction cannot be genuine or constructive.
Morgen: I put some work on Authonomy (and You Write On) but found I didn’t have the time to critique other people’s writing (and they were big chunks; 10,000 words+) so didn’t get my writing critiqued. I find having a writing group and editor works best for me. Where can we find out about you and your work?
Akinyi: On my site: http://www.akinyi-princess.de. You can also find me on www.amazon.com, www.amazon.co.uk, barnesandnoble, authorme.com, Facebook, Twitter, Readers Paradiso.com, Lulu.com (pdf), Lulu.com (epub), African colours.com, and dozens of other sites if one googles my name.
Morgen: Wow, that’s a list! What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Akinyi: With the advent of Indie, POD, Kindle, ePublishing and so on, not even the sky is the limit for writers now. The tough part is the marketing, not the getting published anymore. Both the literary agents and traditional publishers are in for a bummer. Of course the quality of the books / writing will not always be the best with these new alternatives. But, as writer Minette Walters (another of my favourites) once told me, “The cream always floats to the top of the milk.”
Morgen: :) Minette ran a series called ‘Murder Most Famous’ with about a dozen British ‘celebrities’ where they had to come up with a story and write a chapter a day. In between they’d go off with the police etc. and do live research. It was really good and I’ve read the winning book (I won’t say which one in case anyone wants to go and find the series) and really enjoyed it. If you could have your life over again, is there anything you’d have done differently (writing-related or otherwise)?
Akinyi: One thing I definitely would have done differently is to make sure I’m born in an earlier period. A period where your sister being also your daughter does not make you a multi-million-copies bestseller who doesn’t even need to write down a single sentence. But I’d still write, write, write.
Morgen: Sad but true although I think the book buying public are wising up to them. I’m glad I write now with eBooks and so on, I guess there are pros and cons to everything but great to hear you’d still write, so would I. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Akinyi: Thank you, Morgen. Indeed, I do. Between 1st November 2011 (my birthday) through to 31st December 2011 midnight, I’m offering signed copies of Bound To Tradition at 30% less, including postage, if ordered DIRECTLY FROM MY WEBSITE: http://akinyi-princess.de/326/Home/Book_Order.html
Morgen: Thank you Akinyi, folks please do go and take a look. Is there a question you’d like to ask me? :)
Akinyi: That’s kind of you, Morgen. As I mentioned above, I live in Germany and write in English, with an international mixture of characters and locations. Do you know of any English-speaking book clubs, women’s reading groups or intercultural / interracial organisations who would be interested in reading books involving such characters and locations as I write about?
Morgen: That’s a tough one. We tend to have small book groups in the UK but I’m on www.bookgroup.info's mailing list and their http://www.bookgroup.info/041205/directory_town.php?id=12 page may be of use.
I then invited Akinyi to include an excerpt of her writing and the following is from ‘Bound to tradition’:
Khira had never visited a doctor of any kind in all of her sixteen years and therefore she had at first protested. She wasn’t sick, she argued. Why should she visit a gynaecologist? But Erik insisted, and so in the end she succumbed.
In the consulting room she was undressed and helped onto this funny bed. A moment later, to her utter horror, a man walked in.
"Goodday, Mrs Lindqvist. I'm Dr Carlsson."
She didn't shake the offered hand nor return the greeting.
Instead she whispered hoarsely to one of the nurses, "What's this man doing here?"
"This is Dr Carlsson, Mrs Lindqvist," the nurse smiled, stroking her cheek as if she was a pet.
"I didn't come here to see Dr Carlsson, I came here to see a gynaecologist!" she whispered again, in anger.
"Dr Carlsson is the gynaecologist, Mrs Lindqvist" said the nurse.
Dr Carlsson and the second nurse were intently going over the results of her urine and blood samples. Khira’s rejection of his offered hand hadn’t ruffled his feathers.
She hissed again, "My dear nurse, what’s the matter with you? Are you blind or are you crazy? Dr Carlsson is a man!"
Her eyes darted around in horrified confusion – shock, paralysing shame. Here she was, more or less stripped naked, her legs up in the air and poles apart, then in walks a man - equally blind or crazy - barbaric enough to even extend his diseased hand to her in greeting!
In the jungle where Khira came from, any business to do with babies especially at the early stages after conception, was executed expressly by those who could give birth to and suckle infants. And another man's wife's nude genitalia was sacred property. Other women may lay their eyes on it, but never a male, not to mention a male stranger. It was enough reason to declare war!
Dr Carlsson now came to her and did his best to explain that he was indeed a gynaecologist of some twenty-seven years' experience. But Khira was deaf, numb and almost lifeless. All she noticed was that Dr Carlson too had her husband’s pale cow’s eyelashes. The doctor coldly proceeded to position himself between her poles-apart legs.
That revived her and she wept, "Dr Carlsson, I'm a married woman!"
"Yes, dear, I know. That's why you're expecting a baby. Now lie back and calm down. You see, if you get upset, the baby gets upset too. I'm examining you for your own good as well as the good of the baby. You do want the best for the baby, dear, don't you?"
The baby. The poor ancient. Don't get upset, my revered ancient, don't get upset. Khira prayed and endeavoured to calm herself down, to protect her ancient as much as was in her power to do under the circumstances. Half of the blood belonged to these perverted barbarians so maybe the ancient wouldn't be too defiled.
Dr Carlsson touched her... pushed his gloved finger into her...
"This is perfectly humiliating! I've never been so vilely degraded in my life! I'm a married woman, by the blood of my ancestors!" She felt her warm tears flow behind an ear.
He pressed on her lower abdomen with his free hand, ignoring her, while his gloved finger twirled inside her this way and that...
She was humiliated beyond her comprehension, a helpless victim of some savage tribe's grotesque rituals, laid out on an altar of some evil gods, being defiled for them, a pregnant sacrifice.
The man pushed some cold object into her. She had never stretched around anything but her husband, and the diseased barbarian's finger a while ago. The barbarian peered into her through the cold object, all the while muttering the-ancestors-know-what to the nurse who was jotting the mutterings down. The other nurse handed the man a little stick the tip of which was padded with cotton, which he stuck into her, swirled around and then gave back to the nurse, who in turn used the stick like a child's crayon, painting with it on a small piece of glass...
Khira couldn't think of anything more barbaric, more evil.
The savage finally advised her to go and visit a dentist for a general check-up.
She wanted to cry but this was beyond her tears. None came anymore. Ancestors, what a race! Here was one who spent his whole day fiddling with strange women's urine, blood and tralalas and collecting money for it to boot, now telling her to go to another who spent his whole day looking into strange people's diseased mouths!
Akinyi Princess of K’Orinda-Yimbo was born in Kenya. She went to a public school in Yorkshire from age nine, finally studying Journalism and Economics in London. She moved to Germany, where she studied Germanistics and German-specific economics. She is a published author, freelance journalist, speaker, coach and columnist with dailies and magazines in Africa and Europe. She also lectures in socio-economy in Africa, Business English, African literature and the socio-ethnological conflicts in the traditions of Africans and the West in general. She has published articles, papers and novels, her personal favourite being Bound To Tradition. Her non-fiction book Darkest Europe and Africa’s Nightmare: A critical Observation of Neighbouring Continents was published in New York. Other works of hers to be published are: Wicked Wealth (crime suspense), Secret Shades of Fading Blood (romance), The Barbarism of Power, The Separation (sequel to BTT) and a children’s fantasy / thriller series Alanza’s Imperium. Complete CV here: http://akinyi.princess.de/182/Home/Author.html.
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the questions. You complete them, I tweak them where appropriate (if necessary to reflect the blog ‘clean and light’ rating) and then they get posted. When that’s done, I email you with the link so you can share it with your corner of the literary world. And if you have a writing-related blog / podcast and would like to interview me… let me know. :) You can sign up to receive these blog posts daily or weekly so you don’t miss anything… and follow me on Twitter where each new posting is automatically announced. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords, Sony Reader Store, Barnes & Noble, iTunes Bookstore, Kobo and Amazon, with more to follow. I have a new forum, friend me on Facebook, like me on Facebook, connect with me on LinkedIn, find me on Tumblr, complete my website’s Contact me page or plain and simple, email me. I also now have a new blog creation service especially for, but not limited to, writers.
Unfortunately, as I post an interview a day (amongst other things) I can’t review books but if you have a short story or self-contained novel extract / short chapter (ideally up to 1000 words) that you’d like critiqued and don’t mind me reading it / talking about and critiquing it (I send you the transcription afterwards so you can use the comments or ignore them) :) on my ‘Bailey’s Writing Tips’ podcast, then do email me. They are weekly episodes, usually released Monday mornings UK time, interweaving the recordings between the red pen sessions with the hints & tips episodes. I am now also looking for flash fiction (<1000 words) for Flash Fiction Fridays and poetry for Post-weekend Poetry.