Gladys Situma is a Nairobi-based business and lifestyle blogger who is passionate about writing. Her work has been published in various blogs and
magazines in the country including Newsday.com, Msanii Kenya, the Founder Magazine, theleagle.com, nextbride.com and BiznaKenya.com.
She is also a mentor at Ajira digital where she has mentored youths on how to create successful careers to help better their lives.
She spoke to Nation.co.ke about her literary favourites.
Which two books do you hold so dear that they can’t possibly be lent out?
Those will be Too Big to Fail by Andrew Ross Sorkin and Me Before You and After You by Jojo Moyes.
Your favourite childhood books? Why?
ThinkBig and GiftedHands by Ben Carson. I felt motivated reading these two books because I wanted to be a brilliant neurosurgeon just like Ben Carson!
SikuNjema by Ken Walibora was also a favourite. His story was inspiring and the fact that the book is written in Swahili meant I could easily interpret it and enjoy each detail. Stories My Grandmother Told Me by Adino Blessings is also on the list.
The book contained several short stories on morals and misfortunes which happened to children who didn’t respect their elders.
If you were to dine with three writers dead or alive, who would they be and why?
JK Rowling. I think she is a genius story-teller. She is a deep writer and narrator whose work is written with highest creativity as evident in her Harry
Potter series. I have always been a big fan of her work and I would really like to learn a thing or two directly from her.
Secondly, there is Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye. Through her work, she made me realise how we as women can have successful careers as writers.
Lastly, Ngugi wa Thiong'o. He is one of Africa’s best writers, whose stories covers Kenya’s colonial and pre-colonial period. The set-up for most of his stories is Kenya, and reading his stories you will realize just how beautiful Kenya as a country is.
Which book do you wish you had written and why?
TheFour by Scott Galloway. This is because the author explores why and how Amazon, Apple, Facebook, and Google became so successful.
He explains why Jeff Bezos' willingness to experiment and kill off projects that aren't working has influenced its growth and how the seemingly crazy decision to open an Apple store helped the company totally dominate Samsung.
If you were sent off to Robben Island for a year, which three books would you take with you?
The Four' by Scott Galloway, Me Before Youby Jojo Moyes and The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
Do you think book festivals, literary prizes and writing workshops are important to a writer’s growth?
Yes. They make writers feel appreciated for their incredible work, this, will in turn motivate them to work harder so as to positively transform lives through their writings.
Most unforgettable character from a book? Why?
Ben Carson in ThinkBig, because it showed the struggles he had to go through before becoming a surgeon. This book has inspired me in every angle in life.
Among your contemporaries, who would you consider the most exciting newcomer in the writing world and why?
Ellen Pao because in her new book Reset, she writes about discrimination in a venture capital firm where she lost the suit, but the litigation brought attention to the overwhelmingly white, male culture of Silicon Valley.
What are you currently writing?
I'm writing an article on how young women can create successful businesses with minimum capital.
What inspires you to write?"
I normally inspiration from the world around me, including lots of tiny little interactions that might mean very little to anyone else.
Writers are professional observers, whenever I hear or see something that makes me think, and I jot it down in my notebook or on some random
scrap of paper to squirrel away for later. Alternatively, I'll make a voice note of something.
After your writing is finished, how do you judge the quality of your work?
As a writer, I am not necessarily a good judge of my own work. I can either be too fond of it or overcritical. In short I let my reader be the judge.
What is your advice to inspiring writers?
Always stick with it. Keep on writing. Believe in yourself and pay no attention to rejection. But learn to take criticism positively because that’s the only way you will learn to do better.
BY THE BOOK is a literary series that covers authors, bloggers, actors, academics and poets of note in the African continent. For comments or inquiries, e-mail: [email protected]