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Personality of the Week: Edward Mwangi, Author Who Wrote an Award-Winning Novel Within 28 Days

Edward Mwangi (provided)

Writing a novel is not easy. It’s a daunting task that could take years.

But then we meet an extraordinary writer who went ahead to challenge himself and wrote a novel within 28 days. And that’s not all. The novel, unedited, clinched first runners up in the 2012 BURT awards and was published by Moran Publishers.

Edward Mwangi, the author of 5 novels, is our author of the month of April. We (Positively African Book Club) will be discussing his recently self-published novel The Delegate’s Friend on the 27th of April 2022, at The Chat Room, Kilimani.

I had a chat with Edward Mwangi where he drew back the curtain on his life and gave me a glimpse into who he is.

A Human Resource professional and passionate storyteller

Edward Mwangi first pursued a bachelors in Psychology before going for a higher diploma in Human Resource Management. He then did his Master’s degree in Business Administration, majoring in Strategic Management.

The award-winning writer whose creative writing traces back to his primary school days currently works as the Human Resource Director at the County Government of Nyeri. He has previously worked in the private sector as an HR officer.

A passion to motivate and inspire people through storytelling

“As a Human Resource Officer, you deal with people,” Edward says. “This means that you get to know what they go through. You hear many stories.”

It was these interactions with people while in his line of duty that drove Edward to write novels. He realized that most of the people he interacted with had been bludgeoned by life and lacked drive and motivation. Edward decided to write relatable stories that would inspire and challenge people, or as he puts it, “tell people that it is possible to achieve”

During his secondary school days, Edward had written a couple of manuscripts but they never went to print. There was a particular manuscript, however, which had bolstered his confidence. He wrote it after finishing his secondary school education and submitted it to a publisher in Nairobi. The publisher sprinkled praises on his writing style and the pace of his relatable storyline. But they couldn’t publish it at the time because they had “set eyes on other themes.”

Writing a book within 28 days

In 2012 when Edward was holding down an 8 to 5 job, he came across a newspaper Ad by BURT Awards calling for writers to submit their manuscripts. The CODE Burt Award is a literary award and readership initiative that recognizes excellence in young adult literature and provides young readers with engaging books that they want to read. The call-out was specifically looking for stories written by Kenyan writers, targeting young people. The stories had to inspire young adults and encourage them to read.

But Edward did not have a manuscript that met the guidelines. Taking note of the submissions deadline, he knew that if he was to create something new, he only had 28 days. Edward accepted the challenge.

“I would wake up very early in the morning and get to the office by 6 a.m. That gave me about two hours to write. In the evening I would then stay longer after 5 p.m. and write more chapters. My family was also supportive, for they understand my passion. During my off days, I would request them to give me some time at night to write.”

Within the next 28 days, Edward wrote The Delegate. Since the submission deadline was quickly closing in on him, he had to enter his manuscript, unedited. Over 400 writers submitted to BURT Awards that year, and a panel of judges drawn from literature lecturers and professors took time to examine the works. The Delegates won the first runners-up and was assigned to Moran Publishers for printing.

Edward Mwangi would later write The Tissue Boy (winner of Text Book Center Jomo Kenyatta Prize for Literature 2017), Doctor In A Mirror, and My Friend, Jade.

Self-publishing ‘The Delegate’s Friend’

In October 2020, he decided to go down the self-publishing road for the first time.

“I wanted to publish my new novel, but traditional publishers were at the time focusing on curriculum (CBC) books. I decided to self-publish.”

Having worked with traditional publishers to bring out four of his novels, Edward has a comparison to make between traditional publishing and self-publishing.

“The challenge with self-publishing is that you lose the marketing and distribution advantage you get with traditional publishers who have established networks. However, you get to enjoy control of the book, and that self-ownership is satisfying. But you must ensure that you are guided by independent professionals.”

The Delegate’s Friend follows the story of Fransciscar, a teenage girl troubled by the secrets her single mother keeps. She vows to unravel them, but then a terrible event strikes her and her sister. Their mother falls into depression when she comes to terms with what has happened to her daughters. How will the girls reconcile their former lives with the new turbulent one? How will they balance between pain and survival?

In the author’s own words, “it’s a story of perseverance and resilience when faced with challenges.”

Edward Mwangi loves reading and writing, taking walks to keep physically fit (and stave off stress), and talking to people.

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The Positively African Book Club will be discussing The Delegate’s Friend, on the 27th of April, 2022, at The Chat Room, Kilimani.

Copies of the book are available for purchase at All African Bookshop, our partners. They are located at Hazina Towers, Nairobi, Ground Floor, Suite 2A. For inquiries or deliveries, reach them via 0748055879.

Copies will also be available for sale at the book club. To book your slot, contact: 0743-235997 or 0748-055879

Lesalon Kasaine
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