The genesis of great writing:Kwani? shortlisted author Timothy Kimutai

Written by Faith Oneya

I have had the good fortune of having this illustrious writer with voluptuously descriptive way of writing as a friend. Timothy also occasionally contributes to Literary Chronicles. His story ‘The Water Spirits’ was shortlisted in the recently completed Kwani Manuscript Project.


Synopsis of the Water Spirits: Kogi sees an alternate world when his mother points a knife at her chest ready to plunge it in. He finds a girl lying unconscious by the river, carries her home and lets her live in their chicken house – all the while thinking that she is a water spirit. He dreams of bringing back rare chicken breeds from the brink of extinction. The Water Spirits places the mysterious alongside the quotidian, exploring Kogi’s relationships with the water spirit, his newly-widowed mother Susanna and sister Chebet, and the pains of feeling powerless.(Source:


Timothy shared a little bit of himself with LC. Read on below.

LC:  What was the first thing that went through your mind when your name was announced in the shortlist?

TK: This is not happening. This is happening. I remember staring at my fingers and asking myself I need to cut my nails. I remember wondering if I had some guava juice left in my fridge. Then I remember this warm feeling in my gut and for a second I thought I would cry. Then I called my mum.

Author of The Water Spirits
Author of The Water Spirits

LC:  What was the weirdest thing you ever did as a child?

TK: I had a lemon tree for a best friend. I kept tortoises as pets. I nursed a pigeon with a broken wing till it could fly.

LC:  What inspired you to write The Water Spirits? What else?

TK: I looked at an aerial picture of my hometown Iten, and wondered about the souls of people who walked and toiled on its land, who found laughter and companionship there. Then a visit to my neighbor, who kept an empty chicken house, somehow grounded it all in and gave me the little lonely girl who is the water spirit.

LC:  Which authors would you compare yourself to?

TK: I have a harem of favorite authors and am not about to choose one or two as my queens.

LC:  What was the first thing you thought of when you woke up today morning?

TK: I should have woken up 3 hours earlier and that I should not switch on the television for another episode of Scandal as I ate my breakfast
LC:  What kind of reader are you? What are you currently reading?

TK: I am a promiscuous reader. I have an affair with countless of stories and novels. I am currently reading Rose of the World by Jude Fisher. It is part of the Fool’s Gold trilogy and it is all about high fantasy-fascinating kingdoms, languages, armies, girls who are good with swords-very otherworldly. I had to read it because previously I was reading Alison Pick‘s heart-rending novel, Far to Go, about a Jew family in Czechoslovakia trying to save their 8 year old child, after their province is given over to Hitler and swept over by Nazi propaganda. Talk about a tearjerker! I definitely needed some escapist fiction for my next read. Next, I will read House of Winds by Mia Yun which starts off with a girl standing in her mother’s garden in 1960s Korea
LC:  Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? If so which one and what did you like about them?

TK: I am currently in love with Katla Arensen, the heroine of Jude Fisher’s Fool’s Gold trilogy-she can climb cliffs, wield her sword better than those Istrian kidnappers (read the book to find out) and can wrestle. Then she has flaming red hair and can spit accurately at a target. What a girl!

LC:  What is your favorite line/quote from a book?

TK:You who play the zig-zag lightning of power over the world, with the grumbling thunder in your wake, think kindly of those who walk in the dust. And you who walk in humble places, think kindly too of others.” from Dust Tracks on a Road by Zora Neale Hurston
LC:  Please complete this. The world would be a better place if……..

TK: The world would be a better place if we stopped and listened with total attention to each other’s stories and experiences
LC:  What question have you always wanted to be asked as an author and how would you answer it?

TK: Wow, you are a writer, I am Katla Aransen and have just come through a time portal but I need to go back now to go after those filthy Istrian raiders who have kidnapped my mother. Will you come with me? Yes


Meet the inspirational writer: Flavia Murugi

Interviewed by Faith Oneya

Meet Murugi or Googs.Or Gags(As she was called as a child). She made up her mind(and stepped out of a job) to become an author in 2013 and has never looked back. You may have caught her inspiring story in this month’s True Love Kenya magazine. Flavia shared with LC her life’s journey as an author. Read on to find out more!

LC: Tell us more about yourself…

I was born in Embu and raised in Mombasa, Nakuru and Nairobi as an only child to a single mum. I grew up in a home made of 2 mums and us 4 kids i.e. my aunt and her 3 children we all lived together with our grandmother too. I started working at the age of 21 years after losing my mum when I was 19. From 2004 to 2012 I have worked in the media, educational, banking and advertising industry and finally stepped out as an author in 2013. I love hiking travelling and other cultures which have led me to climbing Mt Kenya, Mt Kilimanjaro and visiting Egypt.

LC: If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be?


LC: What book(s) are you currently reading?

The power of positive thinking by Norman Vincent Peale.

LC: Who is your favorite author?

Paulo Coelho

LC:  Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character from a book? Tell us about it.

Not in a book but maybe a TV series and that would be Geoff Stults on October Road. He is everything I would want in a man. Tall, well-built and in this character he falls in love with a full figured woman which is not expected of him considering as a football icon he is expected to date the most skinny women.

LC: What is one book you haven’t read but want to read before you die?

Richard Branson’s Biography.

LC: What kind of writer are you?

I am Inspirational writer or you could also call me the contemporary Christian writer.

LC: Please tell us about the published titles that you have?

Inspiration Simply Simplified was launched on March 17 2013 it is a compilation of my real life experiences simple yes but with life changing lessons. The Rainbow should be out by August 2013 this will be a fictional novel based on my true story basically showing that we can change our circumstances, dispel history and start a new hope in our families.

LC: Where can we buy the titles from?

Currently from me and my publishers Aura Publishers since we are in the final steps with the local bookstores.

LC: When did you first start writing and were there any incidents in your life that made you want to write? What else?

I first started writing in 2003 this started after losing my mum in 2002.

LC: Who is your favorite writer and for what reason are they your favorite writer/poet?

Paulo Coelho, I like his simple language and life changing stories and he always writes a rhetoric novel where he leaves you pondering on what you have read.
LC: Do you have a favorite chapter/line among those you have written? If so, which one. Please write down a few lines from it…..

My favorite chapter would have to be on Probability (What are the chances). This woman was told that the probability of her husband’s recovery was 1% but she said she would hold on to it and 3 months later her husband recovered. I finish the chapter by saying ”If there is 1% probability that you can succeed hold on”

LC: If you could choose one of your characters from any of your books that describe you, who would you choose?

For inspiration Simply Simplified I would pick Suzy because if there is a chance i can succeed i never give up.
In the upcoming book The Rainbow I would pick Favor because despite a bad history she believes she can change the course of her family’s history.

LC: What question have you always wanted to be asked as a writer and how would you answer it?

What would you like to be remembered for? And my answer would be i changed someone’s life in the simplest way just because they believe that if Flavia made it then they can make it.

Meet Arch: The Writing ,Reading,Blogging,Coffee(Drinking) and Music Aficionado

On Me….

Archie Okeyo(@herhar)
Writer. I’m alive and that means there’s so much I can do now.
I’m Dora, but most people call me Arch- which is short for ‘Achieng’
I am named after my paternal grandmother -Isadora, who happens to be named after Isadora Duncan the dancer. I am the last born in a family of two.I love writing, reading, listening to music and blogging. I also prefer being on the road and seeing places.
I am currently working on a novel, ‘The Truth About Me and Anna’ which I hope to publish by the end of the year.
I love music, coffee and books (MCB).
If there was anything I’d love to have stocked in my room it has to be books! I love reading so much that I hope one day I will have a library as vast as the one presented to Belle by the Beast in ‘Beauty and the Beast.’

On Reading…

 I am currently reading The Great Gatsby by F. Scoot FitzGerald.
Fave Author: I love so many authors, that choosing seems a task, because every author has their own voice and style, but I have loved books by Chinua Achebe, Cyprian Ekwensi, Ayn Rand and Jane Austen.
Of all the books I have read the only character that I have loved is Hassan in Khaled Hosseini‘s ‘The Kite Runner‘ because he was a loyal friend even upon death-and who can forget his promise ‘for you, a thousand times over,’ ?
I’d love to read more books by Kenyan Authors before I die, because I know of so many beautiful writers whose works are being shunned in the search for an ‘African Voice.’
On Writing…
I am more of a Fiction Writer, and I am comfortable writing in the subjective point of view. I have written around thirteen books and all are published online, ten are free on smashwords: Dear Yellow , Dear May , Say You Love Me , Ethan and Richard , Made For You , Last Heart Standing , The Absolutely Boring Life Of Mya , The Book of Abel , Dear Brian
There’s one book, ‘Restaurant’ that goes for $11.95 on Wordclay .
I started writing at the age of twelve, three years after I lost my Dad and the only thing that seemed to get me to calm down was writing. I also loved writing down poems and sharing them with my friends in school. My writing was mostly fueled by my Mom who bought us books to read and encouraged us to get our Grammar right.
My favorite writers have to be: Chinua Achebe, Grace Ogot, Jane Austen, Abidemi Sanusi, Stanley Gazemba, Ayn Rand, and Cyprian Ekwensi.
Of all the characters I have written about, I bet I’d be Beryl in ‘Say You Love Me’ because there are times when I embody such calm in tough times.
The one question I’d love to be asked as a Writer is how I do it: and I would say I don’t know, I just write and write and write, and always keep a notebook with me to jot down things that are interesting to me.

Meet the Nocturnal Daydreamer: Ochieng’ Adholla

Written by Faith Oneya

Ochieng Adholla is a young conscious poet, author of: Panther’s Diary (Google that, he says), Pan Africanist logistician in the making (in few years you will understand, he says) and a part time blogger check . His favorite quotations are …Don’t throw away the dirty water until you have the clean one/It’s easy to be wise after the event/It’s ill waiting for dead men’s shoes/Apart from new notes that have the fragrance of pride and hope money does not smell nor taste. Read on to find more about Ochieng’!
Ochieng’ Adholla

LC: What did they call you as a child?
OA: I had many nicknames but most of my friends used to call me Trickpa or Ochibo.

LC: Tell us more about yourself…
OA: I am a lyricist with a cause, a nocturnal daydreamer, I grew up between France and Kenya and I am open minded and outgoing.
I am currently finishing a degree in Purchase and Business Logistics, promoting my book, looking for reviewers and writing ‘Panther’s Diary’: Unspoken words which is the continuation of my first book.

LC: What are your passions? Hobbies?
OA: I like reading, writing, watching documentaries and playing badminton when I can.

LC: If you could have a room full of any one thing, what would it be?
OA: Peace and freedom: the only things we can’t get alive.

LC: What book(s) are you currently reading?
OA: I am reading Living Memories, the Untold Stories of Kenya by Al Kags; which is an oral history of Kenya, from the end of colonialism until the 1990s. In this book, Kags has interviewed both ordinary people and important players, and presents his interviews with minimal editing. It is an excellent book, I recommend it.

LC: Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character from a book? Tell us about it.
OA: Yes, I felt in love with Jean Valjean from Les Miserables of Victor Hugo; his ability to face and overcome any situation really impressed me. The evolution in his struggle to redeem himself morally to find acceptance in a society that rejects him as a former criminal is amazing and I believe many people can identify themselves to his character. Valjean’s redemption through his many trials happened only because of his great humility and compassion and it is an important lesson to retain.

LC: What is one book you haven’t read but want to read before you die?
OA: Roots from Alex Haley


LC: What kind of writer/poet are you?
OA: I am realistic poet, I write about things happening in the crazy world we live in as they really are (I hope).

LC: Please tell us about the published titles that you have?
OA: Panther’s diary, my first collection of poems is a book I wrote in university.The poems presented in this book range from impressions to expressions on issues affecting our lives, Africa and the world at large. Emotions are expressed from the hear-to the heard and truly memorable manner. In this lyrical and passionate collection many readers will
find their own feelings and experiences reflected.

LC: Where can we buy the titles from?
OA: Panther’s diary can be bought online at Amazon:

or blackbokplus
It is also on sale in some bookstores in USA.

LC: When did you first start writing and were there any incidents in your life that made you want to write? What else?
OA: I started writing hip hop lyrics at the age of 14 then my hip hop metamorphosed into poetry. There is no particular incident that made me want to write, I just wanted to express myself peacefully about issues affecting my life and environment.

LC: Who is your favourite writer/poet and for what reason are they your favourite writer/poet?
OA: Ken Saro-Wiwa is my favorite writer; I love him because he chose to fight neo-colonialism and western imperialism using nonviolent resistance techniques such as poetry, prose and peaceful protest. Saro-Wiwa was also able to mobilize the people of the Niger Delta to push for adequate representation and the preservation of their homeland, which was continuing to be destroyed by oil exploitation in the 90’s. Apart from being an activist using his pen as a sword, he was one of most talented Afrikan writer and Sozaboy is a book I really liked.

LC: Do you have a favorite chapter/line/stanza among those you have written? If so, which one. Please write down a few lines from it…..

OA: There are many and it’s hard to choose but here is an extract of one of my favorite poem The Lie

“The F of life was taken out to make the word lie,
Many of us have made their lives a lie.
When life is not what it seems to be your mirror cries;
Dreams are far from reality by many miles.
In front of a screen, the truth is crucified;
Fake celebrities show their success proudly,
Reality is less marketable hence modified,
Their new mansions are few people’s reality.”

LC: What question have you always wanted to be asked as a writer and how would you answer it?
OA: I became a writer by accident so I never thought that I would be asked any questions.

Meet the Author: Phyllis Muthoni

Interview by Faith Oneya

Phyllis Muthoni is the author of the poetry book ‘Lilac Uprising ‘ . Her poetry has variously been described as fantastic, thrilling, inspiring by poets such as Stephen Partington and Khainga O’Okwemba.She is passionate about motherhood, leadership and organizational development. She unwinds by reading a lot of fiction , exercising , playing the guitar and making jewellery.Phyllis talked to LC about her reading, writing and interesting childhood.

LC: What did they call you as a child ?

PM: I resisted all attempts at a nicknames. I can’t explain what it was; maybe I just liked my name as it was. On occasion I allowed my grandma to use call me Gathoni the diminutive form of Muthoni.

Phyllis Muthoni

LC: What was the naughtiest thing your mother caught you doing as a child?

PM: One day (in a spate of juvenile madness, I imagine) I made fun of a disabled boy in the neighbourhood. He reported me to my mother. She was about to have my hide when I remembered my small sister was away visiting my grandma. I lied that it was my sister who had made fun of the boy. By the time she returned the dust had died down. It took a long time for my sister to forgive me.

LC: What are your fauvorite books?What kind of books do you read?

PM: Poetry and fiction are my daily bread. I have about seven volumes of poetry that travel everywhere with me. Ted Hughes is my favourite poet of all time. I love also the ‘new’ Kenyan poetry: Stephen Partington, Ngwatilo Mawiyoo, Sitawa Namwalie, Tony Mochama, Njeri Wangari and many others. I currently exploring poetry from the USA and Eastern Europe. Some of my favourite fiction authors include Margaret Atwood, A.S. Byatt, Muthoni Garland, Doreen Baingana, Jose Eduardo Agualusa, and Cormac McCarthy.

LC: Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character?Tell us about it.

PM: It is hard not to love the characters I meet in novels and films. Some of my favourites include Yentl and John Thornton (North and South).

LC: What inspires your writing?

PM: I am inspired by life, by possibility. I think when you look at a society like ours, it is easy to become hardened and cynical. I strive to keep my heart open to everyday miracles such as the kindness of random strangers, who I believe are angels in disguise.

LC: Please share a few lines from your favourite piece( From what you have written)

PM: Poetry is like children – it is extremely hard to pick up a favourite. The following are from an unpublished poem titled ‘The Words we Use’

There is a tiger on the prowl

We have workshopped its gleaming teeth

And tied its paws with pretty cloths

Sightings inspire debate, not terror

It hunts in our neighborhoods and alleys

We know it so well

It is one of us

Domestic like dishtowels

Kittens, spices, and violence

We feel safe.

LC: What is your greatest fear?

PM: Losing my soul.

LC: Share something about yourself that nobody knows?

PM: I am not sure there is anything about my life that only I know – bits of my life are scattered in people’s hearts. However, here is something very few people know: I have an irrational fear of  caterpillars and safari ants.

Phyllis Muthoni’s book ‘Lilac Uprising’ is available at ;

1.       Text book centre Junction

2.       Text Book Centre Sarit

3.       Uchumi Langata

4.       Uchumi Sarit

5.       Uchumi Capital Centre.

6.       Bookpoint Moi Avenue

7.       Wells Bookshop Lifestyle.

8.       Moi University Bookshop Eldoret

9.       Silverbird Westgate

10.   Savanis Westgate.

11. Wells Bookshop

Meet the Author: Chris Lyimo

Written by Faith Oneya

About Chris Lyimo and ‘My Side of the Street’: Chris is a 40-year-old incorrigible optimist and mellowing cynic.This is his story of  The Search very well knowing The Find may not exist but The Road certainly does.He usually take the one less taken.  He is  thoroughly fascinated by The Process of The Search. My Side of The Street is a journal of that process and is a manifest of The Marching Orders he receives along The Road.It is a personal process. This is what he shares with you.(Source:

LC: Tell us about your book…how was the idea conceived? How would you describe the book in a nutshell?
CL: Like I have indicated in the acknowledgements section, I had always wanted to write a book. Though I was not clear what the book would be about, I knew it would be addictions/alcoholism & recovery related. I was in a space where I was so thrilled by this new lifestyle and I wanted the world to know about it. I just didn’t know how.

In 2008, I found an invitation to a creative Writing workshop on the Kwani? Website. At the workshop, we’d be given assignments to write out what I Figured were ‘pretend’ book chapters.

LC: How did you come up with the title?
CL: I had been journaling consistently from the year 2000- 3 foolscap pages every morning. I found myself calling the Morning Pages, My Side of the Street because it gave me a free space to express myself without judging, condemning or even fearing myself. I realized there is nothing anyone could do about what, who, how, when where, why I dealt with my side of the street the way I did…

LC: What do you do apart from writing?
CL: Ahhh, the inevitably Kenyanese question…and Living a day at a time does not suffice, does it?

I talk about recovery, recovery, recovery and the wonderful possibilities of recovery, recovery, recovery…whether as an Admin manager at Real Estate firm or giving talks at universities, churches,corporates, homes, rehabs or as facilitator in the parenting ministry at Mavuno or being with my son, Roogz at an IMAX movie (one of those things that is a MUST DO)

LC: What did they call you as a child?
CL: My Kikuyu name, Nduhiu at home and in primary school, Evans, both named after my grandfather (Note, I added the ’s’ -it sounded more suave or whatever. I have four names. A fact that I am not too proud off though, all initials and/or names are represented in my signature.

One pal still calls me Digs- though he was then, still the one pal, who called Digs. I can’t quite remember where it came from.

LC: Do you have a favorite book from childhood?
CL: No, not really. Though what shows up on my radar screen, as I write this, was Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Story series. I used to get stumped at how I didn’t see-that-one-coming thickening of the plots. And I was too lazy to re-read. Then the drinking started and I was resigned to the ‘footnote’ articles in Readers Digest magazines.


LC: What books do you re-read?
CL: The Inspirational and mystical, new agey, kind. Not one for fiction – though I am given to the occasional mystery or legal novel especially given that my love for reading has come in sobriety.

LC: Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Tell us about it?
CL: Jonathan Livingston Seagull– This is character, or bird or someone, who had the courage to think differently and act differently without being brash about it.


LC: If you were to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?
CL: I would consider Iyanla Vanzant as a mentor. Raw, raw bearing of her soul.

LC: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
CL: That’s a hard one. Let’s see.

Keeping it real and honest, especially with the imagery, was especially difficult.

There was a temptation to give it up altogether as I rehashed lots of stuff I thought I had dealt with; the dilemma of what content to include and which to omit; taking on the editor’s differing viewpoints as personal criticism; asking myself several times, ‘Why am I doing this again? What will so and so say when they see their name in print despite giving their permission to be included? What will people think of my mum?

To sum up, I think the hardest thing was to keep it really on my side of the street.

LC: Do you have any questions for us?
CL: As a first time published author, what is the most effective way to handle both negative and positive criticism? Is it necessary to respond to a critic, whether the review is positive or negative?

LC: We believe that a critic’s work is simply to respond to what is put out there by writers etc. How the criticism is received( positively or negatively) remains the sole responsibility of the reader.Case in point: Binyavanga Wainaina’s book ‘One Day I Will Write About This Place’ which has received a fair amount of what his ardent fans would term ‘negative’ criticism on his book.
We leave you with a quote from romance writer Danielle Steele: “A bad review is like baking a cake with all the best ingredients and having someone sit on it.” 😉


Meet the Author: Victorine Ndinda

Victorine Ndinda writes fiction(short stories) as well as features. Her work has been featured in a number of blogs including Literary Chronicles. Ndinda shared herself with us. Read on to find out what she said!

LC: What did they call you as a child?
VN: It’s funny but I have never had a nickname, not from my friends anyway.
Beats me why, because I’d love to have one. However, there is one name that one of my Uncles uses, since I was a kid. Katungulu. I really hate the name but my uncle insists on using it even when am this big, infront of the family and strangers! The name belonged to a great-grandmother who was very strong in character and full of wisdom. My uncle says that those characteristics are what made him call me that.Oh, and he also said that he will never stop calling me that

Victorine Ndinda

LC: What was the naughtiest thing your mother ever caught you doing?
VN: Well, I have to honestly confess that I was a drama-free kid. I had an equal share of drama as well as fun too, nothing ever serious. The only naughty thing mama ever caught me doing was when I decided that since sugar tastes good, it would make my githeri taste sweeter too. Of course it ended up tasing horribly. Mother caught me just when I was trying to dig a hole to hide it (we had no cat or dog, and she’d have easily seen it in the pit). amazingly she didn’t beat me. She just made me finish my meal 🙂

LC: What are your favorite books? What kind of books do you read?
VN: Oh where do I start? My taste in books has changed over time, from Mills and Boom back when I was in high school to now. I love books that speak to my soul, that make me laugh, that make me think in between the lines about life, love, hurt, survival. Any book that can evoke such emotions in me that I will read. I love a book that speaks to me, that makes me feel like we are having a dialogue-me and the
writer or the characters in the book. A book that I can relate with. I therefore hate scientific fictions, same to movies actually. I prefer books that are in first-person narration, always. That’s why I love
reading auto-biographies, to know how people deal with some issues in life, common to all mankind.

LC: Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character? Tell us about it?

VN:  Ha-ha, that’s tricky one Faith 🙂 Well have fallen in love with a few characters in the books I’ve read, both male and female. However, I especially liked the main character in the book The Sicilian by Mario Puzo. I admired his desire for justice, and law. He lived as an outlaw because he protected the poor in Sicily but oh how he tried to deliver the poor from the grip of the Sicilian Mafia. Need I say that I cried? when he died at the end, after been betrayed by the person closest to him?

LC: What inspires your writing?

VN: I am inspired by day to day life, the struggles we go through, the little demons of our past we have to fight over, the little victories won in our personal fights. I want to tell a story, either in my poetry or articles, a story that a few if not everyone can associate with.

LC: Please share a few lines from your favorite piece (From what you have written)
VN: All those coffins signified some sort of…. doom finality, the hopelessness and vanity of life. But the little boy I saw waving to the mother that morning represented life and hope. I chose life. I chose to hope.

LC: What is your greatest fear?
 VN: That this life we live was one big joke and there is no life after death after all!

LC: Share something about yourself that nobody knows
VN: I cry. Its funny I know but most of my friends and people who have known me think I am very strong but I have my moments too. When the pain’s too much, I let it fall through my tears, and then I pray… That’s
how I manage to be strong, I guess.

 LC: If you died today? How would you like to be remembered?    
VN: I’d like to remembered as the girl who tried. I tried to be the best in everything I was, especially matters relationship-the best friend, the best daughter, the best sister, the best girlfriend, the best worker, the best colleague, the best cousin. I might have not managed to be the best in all this but I tried.