At first I marketed my novel as historical fiction, with no success. Then I was advised to try contemporary fiction, because the story is set in a time within living memory, which was how I found Crooked Cat. Since then I’ve discovered sub-genres such as romance and family saga.
What made you choose that genre?
I chose no genre! I just wrote my book. The problem of categorising my work after the fact has been like trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
How long does it take you to write a book?
That’s a good question. My novel took me a total of 40 years from conception to fruition (but included 28 years of inactivity while bringing up my family). The cookbook, Museum Mixtures, took about 3-4 months of actual collation and writing; and the St. Wilfrid’s Church History booklet about 4 months of research and writing.
What is your work schedule like when you're writing?
Although I like to think I’m a fairly organised person, I have no fixed schedule. I enjoy a varied life, and plan my writing round voluntary work, games of tennis, bridge, singing, etc.etc. Some days there is no time for writing. Others, I can work for hours on end. I guess writing, for me, is a (serious) hobby and a therapy rather than a job.
Where do you get your ideas for your books?
My life, work and travel experiences provide an unending source of ideas and inspiration. I love observing people, imagining what sort of lives / experiences they’ve had, what might have sparked a sudden bout of anger, or burst of tears. I am never at a loss for ideas, have numerous fragments of notes and diaries in my archives, and I only have to start writing, for a story to take on an exciting life of its own.
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
Is this a devious way to discover my age! I was in my late 40’s, in the late 1980’s when I wrote a Kenya Museum Society cookbook, Museum Mixtures, collecting recipes from members and prominent people, and tying them together with margin snippets of anecdotes and information pertaining to the museum environment.
What do you like to do when you're not writing?
I think I’ve almost answered that question above! When I’m not doing all the other things I seem to have become involved in since my family left the nest, I turn to writing. My profession is a business adviser and mentor, and I still enjoy doing that on a voluntary basis twice a week. I judge dressage 4-5 times a month, which takes me into some fabulous English country estates in the south, and keeps me in touch with horses, which are my passion.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I learned an important lesson with my first book – never again would I write a book which is controlled by a Committee! Writing Museum Mixtures was sheer delight (and it also introduced me to that amazing tool, the computer). But the editing and production were a nightmare. I’ll say no more.
How many books have you written?
Which is your favourite and why?
Breath of Africa. Writing it has been therapeutic at a difficult period of change in my life. So much of myself has gone into that book. It is my own work of art, and Crooked Cat believed enough in the book to make a valuable commitment. I hope it will turn up trumps for them. The other two were bespoke and did not require the same intensity of emotion and effort, even though I am also very proud of them.
As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?
To travel round the world was my dream. And I did it. In my 60th year. I did once want to be a ballet dancer –but most girls of my generation had that aspiration, I think. And anyway, my thighs grew too big too quickly.
What are you working on now?
Do you call it work? A novella – the cry of a carer trapped in a no-win situation. It’s a story that must be told, and I want to get it over with quickly. Then I will tackle the sequel to BOFA. But it will require lengthy research, which means going back to Kenya, where two of my children are now living. Did I tell you my family are the most important thing in my life? Only one member lives in England, which gives me an excuse to travel.
Jane Bwye has been a businesswoman and intermittent freelance journalist for fifty years, mostly in Kenya. She has six children and seven grandchildren, scattered over three continents, so has developed a taste for travel and has “walked” round the world, buying a bird book in every country she visits.
List of Published Works
Museum Mixtures, Published by Kenya Museum Society, Nairobi
Breath of Africa, published by Crooked Cat
St. Wilfrid’s A History, published by St. Wilfrid’s Church, Eastbourne
Short Stories, articles, newspaper columns, and reviews too numerous to mention, in a variety of publications in Kenya, and in Magnet Magazine, East Sussex, from 1960 – 2008.
Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Flash Fiction Competition
Flash 500 Humour Verse Competition