Born and bred in Kenya, and now living between Nairobi and Sydney, Australia, N.K Read is a storyteller and journalist who has written for several publications and news outlets including the Kenya Television Network, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Guardian UK as well as directed three documentary films, two of which played across cinemas in Australia. Other than a great coffee, what gets her up in the morning is her drive and heart for Africa. She enjoys hiking, running and cooking with her husband and reads voraciously in her very ‘spare’, spare time.
She has a strong passion for Africa, the land of her birth and this is what gets her from bed each morning.
Below, she answers a few questions about her new book, CHILDREN OF SABA (EPIC OF APHRIKE BOOK 1), her writing style and what inspires her.
What Inspired You to Write Children of Saba?
For many years, Africa was synonymous with war, strife, disease and poverty, or alternatively wildlife. Yet, as modern Africa rises, there is a rich legacy of majesty, splendour and glory of its peoples, past and present, that has yet to be fully explored. After I discovered the link between the tribe of my birth, the Meru of Kenya, with the enigmatic Meroë who once ruled Nubia, were integral in the ancient Kingdom of Sheba and are connected further back in time with the ancient and mysterious ‘First Race’, I sought to bring their story to life. Thus Children of Saba was born.
What is it that you love so much about Children of Saba?
The characters – their individual transformation as the story progresses and the wisdom they glean from one another. They’re an incredibly diverse group of people who are drawn together by fate and destiny. There’s conflict, strife and even death amongst them, yet they’re united in overcoming a common evil. Essentially this is my dream for Africa, that we draw together to fight the challenges that have confounded us for generations. I can already see a positive wind of change sweeping across the continent, and so Children of Saba is a celebration and an encouragement for us to keep forging ahead with making Africa an excellent place to call home and a beacon for the rest of the world.
How is writing in your genre different from others?
There’s an African proverb that says, ‘with a little seed of imagination you can grow a field of hope.’ The epic fantasy genre allows you an unfettered scope, it gives you the chance to indulge in the ‘what if’ so much more than any other. Writing Children of Saba has been a wild ride into the vast reaches of my imagination as I visualise and bring to life stunning cities, gorgeous vistas (of which Africa has many), lush palaces and out-of-this-world characters. Many days I’ve lost myself so deeply in the Kingdom of Sheba that it’s taken a few hours to adjust to reality.
What is your writing style?
I first start with an outline which I fill out slowly, after doing my research, with snippets of information and ideas. I also write out full character sketches which I can always map language, tone of voice, attitude, etc back to. I then write out the story and finish with dialogue, which to be honest, I find the hardest aspect to get its nuances and flow absolutely right.
Do you listen to or talk to your characters?
Not really. I tend to ‘watch’ them though – as if studying a friend or person sat before me. I ask myself, what are their characteristics, why would they do what they do, what are their motivations and their hidden desires, etc. It’s pretty fun actually. I also base their actions/habits on real life people I see/know; for the people around us are rich fodder for great characters.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Never give up and have fun while you write. ‘Children of Saba’ is my second attempt at a major fiction work. It took over a year to write, many times waking at dawn before work and staying up late to finish chapters. This was all in between a fulltime job, organising a wedding and dealing with day-to-day distractions but each time I took up my manuscript, I was overjoyed – it was a blast – and I can’t wait to jump on Books 2 & 3 of the Epic of Aphrike! If you believe in your story and truly enjoy writing it, then keep at it. You will be well rewarded for your effort!
What’s the take-out message from Children of Saba?
It’s one I’ve included in my acknowledgements at the start of the book – Children of Saba is a labour of love dedicated to Africa, the Opening of Ka, the birthplace of civilisation and the origin of the Firsts. (Africa is) my precious home and that of my wonderful, amazing brothers and sisters – poor, rich, young old, man, woman, child, Surma, Meru, Meroë, Himba, east to west, north to south. This epic is a humble appeal to this great continent: May we reclaim our rich and resplendent narrative; our foundation, our voice, our magnitude, our honour, our pride, our wisdom, our traditions, our past, our exceptional uniqueness, our failings, our triumphs and finally when all is said and done, our glory.
Here’s how you can connect with N.K. Read:
Amazon author page: https://www.amazon.com/author/
Goodreads Author page: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7388984.N_K_Read