We are so very happy to be speaking to Shilaho Wa Muteshi, author of Remains of Dead Hope and The AIDS Ward. Thank you for sharing your time with us.
There is an age old battle of the title. What do you call yourself? An author or a writer? Why?
Author. I tend to think authors are published writers and that’s why I call myself Author Shilaho, but I could be wrong.
What inspired the book?
Remains of Dead Hope was inspired by the dictatorial regime of Daniel Arap Moi and his predecessor Jomo Kenyatta while The Aids Ward was inspired by the fact that all of us are affected by the Aids pandemic in one way or another.
People say you should be careful around authors because they will write you into their books. How similar are the main characters to a real people in your life?
None of those close to me have been incorporated in the two published books, but some mannerisms exhibited by main characters were observed from friends and family.
Authors often say that it is close to impossible to make a real living from writing. Is this true for you? Is writing your day job? If not, what do you do to put food on the table?
True, particularly for African writers. I am a college tutor and public health consultant specializing in reproductive health.
Many parents/guardians wish their children had ‘real’ jobs. How do your parents/guardians feel about your work?
They have been supportive even though in the beginning they felt great writers always end up dead or in prison.
Writers are usually lovers of books as well. What books have inspired your work?
Novels by Ngugi Wa Thing’o and Leo Tolstoy are at the centre of my growth as a writer. Ken Saro Wiwa, Salman Rushdie and Nurrudin Farah also played a role.
Some people write early in the morning, hiding away in the basement and work till they finish an entire chapter. Others work until they have 1,000 words. What is your personal style?
I write when everyone else is asleep or away, can’t seem to concentrate when I have company.
What do you wish people knew about these particular books?
They are the first installments of what promises to be a long journey. All my books are set in the fictional Diamboland, a third world country plummeting towards fourth world status.
Has it been translated into other languages? Do you think you would like it to be translated into your own language?
No, but translation would interest me a great deal.
What kind of advice would you give some of our group members who want to write books?
To go ahead and put pen to paper. No amount of procrastination will do.
How can we connect with you online? Twitter, Blog, Website, Goodreads, etc.
Search for Shilaho Wa Muteshi on amazon.com and goodreads.com. You can also like my page, Author Shilaho Wa Muteshi on facebook or email firstname.lastname@example.org. My website, http://shilaho.com is also live.
Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy day to answer these questions. Much success on your future endeavours!
Thank you too, my pleasure.
Gloria Bwandungi Mugarura