Ndinda Kioko is a Kenyan writer. She was listed and published in the Africa39 project, a selection of 39 writers under the age of 40 from Africa.
Her works have also appeared in several other publications, including The Trans-African, Fresh Paint – Literary Vignettes by Kenyan Women and Jalada Africa.
Her short story, "Jagged Edges Of A Disappearing Woman", was adapted for radio by BBC Radio 4.
She has produced a TV show for M-net Africa. Ndinda is a Miles Morland scholar for 2014 and is currently in the University of Oregon completing her MFA in Creative Writing. She won the Wasafiri New Writing Prize for Fiction in October this year.
1. Congratulations on winning the Wasafiri New Writing Prize. What does it feel like to be here? Is going to school, doing your writing and teaching everything you have ever wanted?
The win was a much-needed confidence boost. We all need that from time to time. We all need someone who says, “I see you and the work you’re doing. Keep doing it.”
I wouldn’t say teaching, writing and getting an MFA is the sum of everything I have ever wanted. I am here now, and now is good enough.
Grad school has afforded me time and formal skills, but I am far away from that place where I want to be. There’s so much more, but all these are necessary steps towards something.
2. What are other ways that writers can receive validation apart from prizes?
It would be great if there were many more publishing platforms and readings where writers could share their work. I have constant nostalgia for that time in Nairobi when there’d be readings like Wamathai Open Mic, Bar Stool Poetry, and others, though lately, I’ve been complaining less about the state of the publishing industry in Kenya thanks to the work that is already happening on online platforms like the Enkare Review and Jalada.
3. Speaking of another prize you won, how is the Miles Morland-funded book going?
I don’t know when the book will out, but you will get it. I’m working with ‘soon’ for now. I want to give this project as much time as it is asking for. We are a couple of drafts in, and I’ve started working on another project. I think you know the end is approaching for one project when you start working on another one. That’s as much as I can say for now. Will it be available in Kenya? One expects so, otherwise what’s the point?
4. Who are some of your favourite Kenyan writers, and why?
Oh, that’s a long list. Okwiri Oduor, Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor, Clifton Gachagua, Shailja Patel, Wairimu Muriithi, Grace Ogot, Troy Onyango, Bethuel Muthee, Keguro Macharia, Wambui Mwangi, Michael Onsando and many more. Why? They are brilliant writers, and they belong to a creative imaginary that reminds me these stories matter too.
5. Do you think the era we live in now allows for writers to truly live off their writing?
I don’t know, but I hope so. You know, if people looked at writing as work, which it is, and paid writers for it, that would be a start.