What you need to know:
- It is a dream I have nurtured since I was 17 after reading Robert Ludlum’s Road to Gandolfo.
- I read that book and I told myself I would like to one day fuel people’s imaginations the way he fueled mine, and create beautiful characters the way Ludlum did in that book.
- I have since read hundred if not thousands of books that further fueled my desire to write.
Jacob Aliet is the author of Shoreline Origins, Magnolia Flower, First Encounters, The Photographer, and Levant Church which is his latest work of fiction. When he’s not writing, he works part time as an IT project manager, business analyst and Trainer. Apart from fiction books, Jacob has written several newspaper articles and has been published in academic journals. With the evolution of technology and social media, Jacob says the internet cannot be ignored when it comes to book publishing and selling. He shares his story with Nation.co.ke
Hardly do we find people in IT sector writing novels. What inspired you to be a writer?
It is a dream I have nurtured since I was 17 after reading Robert Ludlum’s Road to Gandolfo. I read that book and I told myself I would like to one day fuel people’s imaginations the way he fueled mine, and create beautiful characters the way Ludlum did in that book. I have since read hundred if not thousands of books that further fueled my desire to write. I always say IT is what I do for a living but writing is my work.
Among the five novels you’ve written, which one is your favourite and why?
My favourite is Shoreline because it begins in a rural setting, which is full of beauty and wonderment. The heroine’s story is an unlikely story, just like mine and she emerges as a surprise from the depths of darkness. It also has a lot of potential and its sequel is coming out in September this year.
What type of issues do you intend to address with your novels?
First is to tell a good, engaging and entertaining story. As I tell a good story, I also want to address issues of love, family, religion, fear, hope, determination, courage and the power of possibility. I have a Science Fiction book scheduled for 2021 which will blend the paranormal and artificial intelligence. At some point, I also want to write religious fiction which is an area I have a lot of expertise in.
How do you balance between being a family man, your job, and writing?
I go to bed early and wake up early. I stopped watching television and ensure that I use all the time I have towards my work. I strive to get a balance – it is not easy. Fortunately, I am home every day so I get to spend some time with my wife and kids.
Who is your favorite Kenyan author, and why?
Meja Mwangi. Carcase for Hounds made a big impression on me. The way he portrayed the Mau Mau fighters, how he described the struggle General Haraka had with his injury and later the fever when the wound got infected. I also loved Binyavanga Wainaina, particularly Discovering Home. Hot on their heels is Ngugi Wa Thiongo.
Why do you opt for self-publishing instead of working with a publishing house?
First it’s because of my content. My readers are mainly young adults and older people. The Kenyan publishing industry heavily favours educational books, so from the get go; they look askance at my work. Secondly, the disruptive power of the internet has reached the publishing industry, whether the publishing houses realise it or not. With social media, I can reach readers far and wide.
Your latest book, ‘Levant Church’ is an intriguing title. What drove you to write the book?
I was in the middle of writing Shoreline Evolution when I came across a drawing of a mermaid by Haitian artist Kendy Joseph. I wrote a short post about it on Facebook and it caught fire immediately. This was the spark that inspired me to create the antagonist, the demoness called Anita. For the storyline, I thought of the situation today in our society where we have self-styled prophets who purport to perform miracles to draw people to their churches. I pushed it further and have such a pastor engage in occultist rituals and how he struggles with the unforeseen consequences of crossing lines.
What’s your advice to young, upcoming authors about publishing and book selling?
They should never give up on their writing dream and putting their work out there. When people read your work, you get feedback and stay grounded. Readers hook you to the networks you need.
Also, your work will be rejected. Don’t let that discourage you. Stephen King was rejected. Back in 1995, J.K. Rowling wrote a synopsis of the first “Harry Potter” book to send to publishers, and it was flatly rejected. It’s the name of the game. When your time comes, if you stay the course and keep getting better at your work, you will also get the accolades you feel you deserve.