Friday, September 13, 2013

Jane Bwye - Guest Blog


Jane Bwye has been a businesswoman and intermittent freelance journalist all her life. She lived in Kenya for over half a century, where she went to school, and brought up her large family.
A world traveller, she buys a bird book in every country she visits. Now "retired" to the UK, she mentors small business start-ups, judges dressage, and advocates for the elderly, while indulging in her love for choral singing, tennis, bridge, and walking.



1.  Can you share the premise of your latest project?

I am trying to write a novella called I Don’t Want to be Here, based on something that happened to me, although it is not my true story, as I feel freer when expressing myself in fictional form. It’s a story that must be told, based on what can happen to a couple when one of them falls very ill, dramatically changing their lives.

2  In particular, what led you to write?
It has always been easier for me to put my thoughts down in writing, than to speak them. My first book, Breath of Africa was written as a catharsis, when we moved from Kenya to retire in the UK. I was able to re-live my experiences in the country I still call my home, and I re-discovered a joy in making up stories.


3  Is there a key person or group that has inspired you in the process of writing?
The Authonomy peer review website, set up by Harper Collins played a major part in the development of Breath of Africa. I made many friends on this site, and received valuable advice and support in the book’s journey to Gold Medal status.


4  How do you envision your work will impact your readers?
Breath of Africa means different things to different people. It can be read as a love story, a psychological thriller, or as an exploration into the interactions of people of different races. Superstition and Christian faith clash, and the stunning beauty of the country is a major character in itself. It has also proved to enlighten many on the recent history of Kenya since Independence.

As far as I Don’t want to be Here is concerned, I guess readers will identify with the main characters, if they have had a similar experience. They willrealise that they’re not the only ones going through a crisis, and perhaps learn something from it.


5.  As you embarked on writing your book, what was the overall message you wanted to convey to your audience?
That outsiders may not to be too quick to take sides, condemn or judge, without knowing the full story.



6  What process did you go through to build the narrative of your book?
A very long painful process! Both books started with short stories. With both, I knew what the ending was going to be. I just had to fill in the gap. When I went to a writers’ conference, I realised I had to learn the difference between a story and a plot. I still have to keep reminding myself of itFor me, the story was fairly straightforward – it wrote itself, once I got down to it.

It was the plot which took some manipulating - the exercise of bringing each chapter to a climax, and yet providing a tantalising hook to draw the reader onto the next chapter. It is a skill which I found hard to develop, and I would change the order of some chapters more than once.

I also found myself writing chapters out of order, as the whim took me, thenslotting them into the storyline by manipulating the beginnings and the endings. It didn’t always work.


7. In every author’s experience, there is often a pivotal event that results in the creative process. Can you describe the pivotal event that led you to write your book ?
The pivotal event which led me to write I Don’t want to be Here was when my husband contracted cancer over twenty years ago, and we have been living with the consequences ever since.


8.  Are there any tips you can share on what parents can do to foster the love of reading and books?
Take away the television set and the mobile phone!! It was easy for me to become a bookworm at an early age, as I had neither.

Seriously, though, I don’t think parents, or anyone, should try to foster love of anything in children. The children will develop their own likes and dislikes. Example is the best way to arouse an interest. If the parents curl up every evening with a book, read a bedtime story, and discuss books with each other, a receptive child will take note.

One thing I did do with my children, however, was to insist on an hour’s quiet time after lunch every day. They were encouraged to sleep, but there was also a bookcase full of fairy tales in their bedroom. The volumes were calledThe Golden Pathway, and The Children’s Encyclopedia. That said, only one of my six children, now grown up, is a regular reader.


9. What aspect of life do you want your readers to know about?
I would not presume to try and educate my readers. They will draw their own conclusions. I am merely setting out my thoughts and experiences in asinteresting and entertaining a way as I can.


10. Describe the role books played in your own life.
The only time I did not have a recreational book to hand was when I did a distance education degree, and even then, I was reading study books!

Books and the worlds they have opened up to my imagination have had an enormous impact on my life, and how I regard it. I cannot imagine anyone growing their lives without this amazing way of finding knowledge, understanding and a semblance of wisdom.

In this day and age, one cannot afford the time to reinvent the wheel. To my mind, the written word is the most prolific way to learn in depth from the experiences of others.



Facebook Author Page:






The e-book can also be bought from the publishers: Crooked Cat:



List of publications:

BREATH OF AFRICA. Published by Crooked Cat 2013
ST. WILFRID’S, A HISTORY.  2013. A simple account of the major happenings in our church.
MUSEUM MIXTURES. A Cookbook, Published by the Kenya Museum Society. 1989
Numerous articles, short stories, reviews and two newspaper columns published in Kenya and in the UK. 1960-2008

1 comment:

  1. An illuminating interview, thanks, Charlotte. I've read Breath of Africa and enjoyed it and reviewed it.