By the Book: Ruth Mwongeli

Ruth Mwongeli is a wife,  mother, and a bibliophile.

What you need to know:

  • Courage to Love is a romantic suspense novel set in Nairobi, Kenya.
  • I had to get creative with my time and write around my duties as a mother, a wife, and an employee.
  • Describing the domestic violence scenes in detail was particularly difficult for me.


Ruth Mwongeli is a wife, a mother, and a bibliophile. She says that her love for reading developed from a young age. She remembers Peter Abrahams’ Mine Boy as one of the books she enjoyed reading as a child. She discovered her passion for writing while in high school where she began by penning stories for her friends. Her debut self-published novel, Courage to Love is a story she began writing while still in high school, under the guidance of her teachers.

Courage to Love is a story she began writing while still in high school, under the guidance of her teachers.

Photo credit: Courtesy

“It has grown with me and evolved over the years. The plot has changed a little bit but in many ways, it is still that story that I used to write at school during my free time,” she remarked during a chat with Life & Style.

Briefly tell us about your book.

Courage to Love isa romantic suspense novel set in Nairobi, Kenya. The novel follows the life of Zora, a business mogul’s daughter being groomed to take over her father’s multi-million shilling business. She reunites with Bryan, a childhood friend who has morphed (from a gawky teen) into an Adonis and jumps headfirst into a relationship with him. She is quickly sucked into his lifestyle. Before she knows it, she is battling with addiction and loses grip on everything she knows. Zora slips further and further away until she disappears from the face of the earth.

Any chance your personal experiences influenced the writing of “Courage to Love”?

Yes, they did. In high school, it was all about love but through the years I chose to highlight themes that have affected me or the people around me. These include domestic violence and addiction. I have been in two violent relationships and I suffered nicotine dependence for over thirteen years.

How did you balance family engagements and writing?

When you have a family and a day job that is not connected to writing you have to fit in your writing in a way that will not affect either. I had to get creative with my time and write around my duties as a mother, a wife, and an employee. It helped that my favourite time to write is in the wee hours when everyone is asleep. However, this did not always work because there were times when a story came to me during the time you have set aside for family. It is during such times that a phone comes in handy as I can make notes on my phone and refer to them later. I also write on my phone during my commute to and from work and even while cooking.

Are there parts of the book you found challenging to write?

Yes. Describing the domestic violence scenes in detail was particularly difficult for me because I was reliving my past experiences. At times I had to stop for a while to regain my composure.

Convincing people to buy any product is not easy.

While writing, what lesson did you learn? 

Writing this book has been a journey of self-discovery plagued by indecision, self-disparagement, and self-doubt that so many times I thought that writing was not for me. In completing this book and publishing it, I have learned that I can achieve anything that I put my mind into.

Why did you pick on self-publishing?

I wanted to remain in control of my story even after it went to print. The direct interaction with my readers is also quite fun and informative.

Do you ever have a feeling that it would have been easier if you had published traditionally?

Convincing people to buy any product is not easy; convincing people to buy during these tough times is even daunting. I believe marketing and distribution would have been easier with traditional publishing. However, if I was to publish again, I would still self-publish if only for the freedom to sell my art directly to my readers without the bureaucracy that comes with traditional publishers

Are you writing anything at the moment?

Yes, I am working on my second book. It will be about marriages and relationships and the uniqueness of each particular case.

As a bibliophile, what three books have you enjoyed reading in 2020?

Dust by Yvonne Adhiambo Owuor

Love and War by Patricia Hagan

The Cock Never Crows by Ben Murigu

Which book are you reading currently?

I just started Term Limits by Vince Flynn.

Ruth Mwongeli studied Finance. Her novel, Courage to Love, is available at Nuria Bookshop, The One Building—Moi Avenue, Nairobi at Sh 900 or through direct contact via mwongelidavid@yahoo.com .

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