Celebrating East African Writing!
Author Richard Crompton lives in Nairobi, Kenya, with his wife and their three young children. A former BBC journalist, Crompton left London several years ago when his wife, a human rights lawyer, was offered a job in Rwanda helping to prosecute the perpetrators of genocide. His debut novel, The Honey Guide, is published in the UK in February 2013, and as Hour of the Red God in the US in April. His second novel Hell’s Gate will be released on May 29, 2014 in the UK and on Amazon Kindle.
The Storymoja Writers’ Blog had a little chat with Richard Crompton about his writing life.
1. How and when did you start writing?
I have written creatively in some form, since I first learned to write. By the time I was at secondary school, I knew that I wanted to be a writer of fiction. I became a journalist instead (though some may say it’s the same thing!).
Journalism was great training for writing novels, as it teaches you to write to deadlines and to keep a focused, dynamic style. But I found it frustrating, too: in news reports you can only tell a certain, edited version of the truth. I found an outlet in writing short stories, one of which won a prize with a British newspaper. That led to interest from a literary agent in the UK, who encouraged me to finish a novel I had started some years before.
2. Tell us about your writing routine?
I wish I had one! I am very envious of writers who are able to work solidly every day. Frankly, I’m a little suspicious of them, too. I’ve never found that inspiration comes on schedule. I spend long, frustrating hours and even weeks pondering my stories. If something is not right, I find it very hard to progress until I am struck by a new idea.
That said, since I have been writing full-time, I have become a lot more diligent and have found that a routine is beginning to develop. Perhaps I may discover the secret yet!
3. How has writing affected your life in general?
I was able to give up my office job and write full-time, which means I can be at home when my children return from school. The downside of being a full-time writer is that you’re never “off”. I spend a great deal of time thinking about plot, character, and new ideas when I could be relaxing.
4. Tell us about your books.
The Honey Guide (Hour Of The Red God in the USA) is a thriller set during the election of 2007. The story follows Mollel, a Maasai who is also a detective on the Nairobi force, as he investigates the murder of a K-Street prostitute. No-one seems to care about her death other than him. As the trail unfolds, he is caught up in the violence and chaos of the election and uncovers a plot of corruption going up to the highest levels of society.
Hell’s Gate (published May 2014) is the sequel. Mollel is posted to a small town near Naivasha to investigate a spate of suspected extra-judicial killings. He infiltrates a police death squad and discovers a network of criminality centred around themes of environmental destruction.
5. What is the one piece of advice you would give to any writer?
Don’t try to imitate anyone else, or feel pressured into a certain style or format. Ignore the writing manuals and self-help books. You will only succeed if your writing voice is authentically yours.