Nyana Kakoma is in Nairobi for the Storymoja Festival that begins on September 27. She'll be part of the children's book club dubbed the Fireplace Tot Takes that will take place this week on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
She is a Ugandan writer and editor who started a literature blog called Sooo Many Stories which grew into a print publishing house in 2016. Before venturing into fiction writing, she worked for two of Uganda’s leading dailies, The New Vision and The Daily Monitor as a reporter, sub-editor and columnist.
She has been published in The Suubi Collection, The Caine Prize Anthology (2013), Jalada, and The Storymoja blog. Some of her fiction and non-fiction work can be found under her pen name, Hellen Nyana. She is a member of Femrite and one of the founding members of Jalada, a PanAfrican collective of writers.
She spoke to nation.co.ke about her favourite books and her literary fantasies.
Which one book do you hold so dear that it can’t possibly be lent out?
All my Toni Morrison books. They are actually in one section of my bookshelf and everyone knows that they can't borrow them.
Your favourite childhood book?
I can't recall but I have taken on Oh! The Places You'll Go by Dr Seuss as my favourite children's book.
Who is your literary crush? (Not a book character but a real person you admire in the lit world).
What’s your greatest fear?
Most embarrassing stage or writing mistake ever?
I used the phrase "spoilt for choice" in a newspaper article I once wrote. I thought it meant the opposite of what it actually means. Thankfully, my editor caught it before it was published.
If you were to dine with three writers dead or alive, who would they be and why?
I am really terrified of meeting people I really admire; I am often awkward or just stunned into silence but if I had to and somehow managed to be cool about it? It would be Toni Morrison because of her wisdom. Junot Diaz for his humour and Philippa Namutebi Kabali-Kagwa because she makes me feel calm and grounded.
Most unforgettable character from a book?
The contract worker in the poem A Letter From A Contract Worker by Antonio Jacinto
Which book do you wish you had written and why?
Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi because of how well it was written, the compelling story and how it made it made me feel; proudly Ugandan, visible and fascinated about who I am.
If you were sent off to Robben Island for a year, which three books would you take with you?
Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison, Zenzele:A Letter for My Daughter by J. Nozipo Maraire and Kintu by Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi.
If you weren’t an artist or writer, what would you be?
A housewife...who doesn't do housework.