From a humble background to now a published author, meet Maureen. Born and raised in Nairobi Maureen has always had a passion for writing since high school. She began writing in 2020 during the pandemic and on there own she’s not looked, back going on to publish three amazing books ‘Maybe just Maybe‘, Power, and Feels. Although currently in school she’s still found time to balance between her school life and her as an author. Her most important elements of good writing are a good plot and realistic and relatable characters. This can all be seen in her books. We caught up with the amazing artist via mail and here’s what she had to about herself.
Where are you from? Can you speak briefly about your upbringing and the moments that spurred your interest in writing?
My upbringing was nothing out of the ordinary, a nuclear family with loving parents and siblings. I was born in Nairobi. I began writing in high school, but it was just for fun. I found writing to be an interesting way to express myself. Ever wanted to say something without saying it? That made me want to write. My writing in high school was nothing close to professional. I had never thought of writing as something I’d be intensively doing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I realized it during the lockdown. I was going through a depression phase. Writing spared me sorrow and gave my life meaning. Since writing got me out of depression, I became loyal to it. Writing truly heals.
How long does it take you to write a book?
It depends. If I’m doing it full time, it may take four to six months. If I do it whilst still attending school, then it might take longer than that.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I tend to make at least one character in my book very chaotic, unpredictable, and/or dramatic simply because I enjoy creating drama. Most times, arguments in my novels have anti-climatic endings that can sometimes be frustrating to my readers. But the good kind of frustrating 🙂
What do the words “Writer’s block” mean to you?
A state where I can’t get myself to write anything. Just staring at the screen whilst a blank page stares back at me. I feel like I have no ideas, nothing to write. I hate it.
How do you process and deal with negative book reviews?
Some negative reviews are genuinely constructive, I listen and ask where I can improve. They’ve helped me improve my writing.
What is the most difficult part of your writing process?
The writing itself. I may think of the plot and get really excited about how the characters are going to evolve. But converting these plots into words, and not just words, intriguing words that’ll make your reader want more, it’s difficult. It may seem natural from the outside, but all writers can attest to the fact that it’s much harder than it looks.
What, to you are the most important elements of good writing?
A good plot, realistic and relatable characters, and simple but catchy language.
How do you develop your plot and characters when writing?
Before I start writing a book, I think through the whole plot, and how I want the characters to evolve, so before I start writing, I already know how the book will end. However, the micro dramas that occur in my novels are mostly thought through as I write chapter by chapter, they don’t change the initial plot, they make it more interesting.
What comes first for you-The plot or the character- and why?
The main character comes first, I think of their behavior, their likes, dislikes, and their life. And that’s where the plot comes in. Who is in this person’s life, how they affect the protagonist, and what made them who they are? I don’t necessarily have a reason to think of it like that. It just makes a lot of sense in my head.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
My ideal working schedule is updating a chapter of my novel every three days. It makes me deliver a well-detailed chapter with no rushing, and also gives me room for working on my other hobbies.
You’ve written two amazing books “Maybe just Maybe and “Power” what concept did you have while writing them and how did you come up with the titles?
For Maybe just Maybe, the central concept I had was recreating both a love fantasy that I wished to have and one that I dreaded experiencing the most. All in one. It’s all about “what if”. hence the title. For Power, the central concept I had was telling a life story of how a lack of reciprocated trust and care can change someone(protagonist) into a manipulative power obsessed person. The title was just surface-level.
How did you feel after you got them published?
I felt very satisfied and happy because I had always wanted to get it done. I would write novels in high school, and the book would go around classes for people to read. Most of them would get misplaced and I would feel bad. Publishing a novel out here made me happy because I knew I’d never lose my novels.
Did you hear from your readers and what kind of things did they say?
Yes, I did hear from many of my readers. Most of them were excited about my books. Especially with my friends from high school, our conversations mostly involved how they loved or hated a certain character. Or how they wanted something to happen, yet it did not. It was exciting to see how they felt about my books. It gave me a hint on how to improve.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned while creating your books?
What makes one a good writer is not the ability to make the reader understand, but the ability to exclude all possibilities of being misunderstood.
What social media platforms do you use to promote your books?
I mostly use WhatsApp, because a very big percentage of my readers are people that I know. The other times I simply post announcements on Wattpad.
What’s one message you have for your readers?
They might not know it but reading and commenting on my work means a lot to me. They have been a great part of my writing journey. They have helped me grow, learn, and have fun. Talking to me about characters I created with my own mind as if they were real people is amazing. I honestly can’t describe it with words. I appreciate them so much, and their support has been very significant.
What’s next for you?
If all goes well, getting more books published. Hopefully, they’ll be better than the ones I have written so far. After all, life is all about constant improvement.
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