With her two books out, we talk to the budding Kenyan Writer Doreen Khamala bout her early life, love for writing , her books and what the future looks like.
Tell us a little something about you. Who is Doreen Khamala?
I’m the sixth born in a family of eight. Born in Western part of Kenya but raised in Nairobi, a lover of life and an enthusiast of all good things in life but a strongly-made introvert. This thing called life but we have to survive and so far I’m surviving the best way I can.
Where did your love for storytelling come from?
My love for writing came when I was a teenager. On a stressful day, I would jolt my feelings in my journal. On a happy day, I’d do the same. Writing became a healing process for my problems in this world as I am an introvert who kept a lot bottled up inside. And as a child growing up without a mother, though alive, a strict father and distant siblings, that was the only way for me to make it through another day.
Your books, what are they about? Is there some inspiration behind each of them?
All my books are written from experience. My first book, Life Before 25 is about growing up, through to high school, campus and a little after campus. Chapters of my life in ways nobody else knows me. For my second book; Toxic Soul Ties – I say ‘it seems to me that love could be labeled poison and we’d drink it anyways.’ This is so because sometimes we confuse attachment to genuine love. We imagine that the grasping and clinging that we have in our relationships shows that we love. Whereas actually, it is just attachment, which causes pain. Because the more we grasp, the more we are afraid to lose. Then, if we do lose, then, of course, we are going to suffer. This book has little chapters of my experience in a toxic relationship. No regrets whatsoever for this chapter in my life as I came out of it stronger than I ever imagined I would.
I wouldn’t say my books are inspirational; I just share my stories in hopes that someone finds their reflection in them. We all go through the same situations, just played differently.
What was the hardest part of writing the book? Also, how was the self-published struggle?
The hardest part about writing is coming up with a plot, knowing where to start from to create a story. Relating each chapter to the title of the book and formulating sentences that make sense. I’d literally read through a paragraph more than ten times just to make sure it made sense.
Yes, I self-published my books but becoming a self-published author is relatively easy, but becoming a successful self-published author is a challenging process.
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What process did you go through to get your book published?
a) Writing the book
b) Proof-reading it which took me months and months because every time I would read through, I would want to change something, maybe delete a chapter because I changed my mind on sharing it.
c) Giving my friends a draft of the book to proof-read and because they are busy, it takes a while too for them to give feedback. And sometimes, the feedback doesn’t come as expected which means, I have to go chapter by chapter re-writing the book again.
d) Once I’m satisfied with my writing, that’s when I create a cover (which could also take a few weeks because I never settle for the first creation.)
e) Look for a printing company, negotiate the price and once that’s settle. I sent them a copy of my book, ask them to read it and if it’s worth putting their name on it as the printing company, we start the work. This part is also not easy because, a genuine printing company, will be honest with you about your work while others will give you a go-ahead, just for the money.
PS: for my first book, it took me 1 year and 8 months to write it. For my second book, it took me 8 months.
What are some day jobs that you have held and impacted your writing ?
Presently, I work at an online company called Knick-Knacks, a place for handmade quality goods. And yes, it has impacted my writing because I describe the products we sell, and also write blog articles for the company.
Also, I have my own blog; www.myverytrendy.wordpress.com where I share my thoughts and feelings once or twice a week.
What were your goals and intentions in this books, and how well do you feel you achieved them?
My goal is to re-write my first book, ‘Life Before 25’ with a different title, and with a help of a professional editor.
If you were to quote one favorite line from your books, which one would be it?
I have two major ones
“God speaks to you through your intuition. Your intuition speaks to you in the way people make you feel. Don’t leave internal messages unread.” From my book – Toxic Soul Ties
“Parents can only give good advice or put them on the right paths, but the final forming of a person’s character lie in their own hands.” From my book Life Before 25.
How did you get to be where you are in your life today?
Firstly, I thank God for where I am today. Secondly, I thank my father for where I am today. He has always been the only person I can count on. I could say so much of what he has done, but I will keep that to heart, and just say, “thank you dad for everything.”
At the moment, I’m always writing my thoughts and feelings my blog and on my Instagram page; @whispers_ofmythoughts
And as I said, my goal would be to re-write my first book, ‘Life Before 25’
FOR ANYONE WHO WANTS TO GET MY BOOK:
At the moment, I got no bookstore that I display my books. But a reader can call/whatsapp/text 0720 083827 and the books will be delivered to you in town or westlands for those in Nairobi.
For those outside Nairobi but in Kenya, I use Easy Coach bus for delivery.
Hardcopies go for Ksh 500/= (payments on delivery for those in Nairobi. Payments before delivery with an extra charge of Ksh 200/= for those in Kenya but outside Nairobi.)
Ebook go for Ksh 200/= (payments before PDF copy is sent to your email.)